The Pirates game against the Mets was rained out yesterday, so at least Pirate fans’ Labor Day was not ruined. With no Pirate Morning Report, I thought I would look at two teams that are battling for playoff spots but have totally contrasting personas. Yes, battling for a playoff spot, something that the Pirate faithful can only imagine. If the season ended today both the Cleveland Guardians and the San Diego Padres would be in the playoffs. Of course, that is the problem, the season does not end today and both teams may or may not make the playoffs. From a statistical standpoint the teams are very similar. From a perception standpoint they are totally opposite.
Let’s look at how they compare statistically. In scoring runs the Padres have the edge ranking 15th compared to 22nd for the Guardians. The Guardians are better at preventing runs ranking 9th to the Padres 12th. The Guardians pitch better and field better than the Padres. The Padres are the better hitting team. Overall, the Padres have the better record standing at 74-62, compared to the Guardians 69-64. The Guardians have a 1 game lead in the AL Central but are 5.5 games behind for the last wild card spot. The Padres have no chance to win the NL West but have a 2-game lead over the Brewers for the last wild card spot. They are only one ahead in the loss column. Since the All-Star break the Padres are 22-20 and the Guardians are 23-20. That is where the perceptions of these teams become polar opposites. Things looked so much different for these teams after the trade deadline.
The Guardians are considered the surprise team of the year. When the season started no one thought they would be contending for the division title. Everyone figured it would be a two-team race between the White Sox and the Twins. The Guardians were 20-24 on May 30th and then went 16-4 to move into 1st place. They have been either 1st or 2nd since. They did nothing of significance at the trade deadline. They just snapped a 5-game losing streak yesterday to maintain their 1 game lead. If they do not make the playoffs it will not be considered a shock. Contrast that with the San Diego Padres. They made the biggest splash at the trade deadline. The acquired Juan Soto, Josh Bell and Josh Hader. Those trades seemed to make the Padres a lock to make the playoffs and were considered to be a real threat to knock off the Dodgers and the Mets in those playoffs. At the time, Fernando Tatis was getting ready to return to make them even more formidable. Then on August 12 Tatis got suspended 80 days for PED use and not 1, not 2, but all 3 trade acquisitions have crapped their pants. This is a relatively a small sample size, but it is amazing. To cut to the chase Josh Hader before the trade had an ERA+ of 96, after the trade 23. Juan Soto is doing better lately but he is only slugging .394 with the Padres compared with .485 for Nationals and his OPS+ has dropped 22% points. Josh Bell can’t stop having diarrhea as he watches his OPS+ drop from 152 with the Nationals to 72 with Padres. After the trades the Padres payroll just topped the 200 million mark. The current Guardian payroll is around 46 million. The Milwaukee Brewers payroll is around 108 million. It would only be fitting if the Guardians win the division, and the Brewers knock the Padres out of the playoffs, after being highly criticized for trading Josh Hader. If that does happen the media will be all over the Padres for making them look so bad. If the Guardians don’t make the playoffs the media will be relieved just saying they ran out of luck. If the Padres don’t make the playoffs the media will say they were horribly mismanaged, and all the players hate their mothers. It can be tough when you try to win. Not so much, when you try to lose. Just ask the Pirates.