hotcake hot takes power rankings
I imagine Trey would have something to say about these power rankings.

In the first of many Hotcake Hot Takes, we’ll examine why the Padres rank so low in early power ranking lists despite having the most wins in the NL.

I woke up this morning to find one of our friends to the blog Greg retweet a power rankings list from a notable east coast biased major sports network.

In case you haven’t guessed it yet, it was the latest ESPN Power Rankings for the still very early 2019 MLB season. Go ahead and take a look here to see where the Padres rank. Did you feel like you had to scroll down a fair bit too much to see the Padres, who currently lead the National League in wins? I’ll save you some pain: here’s who ESPN ranked higher than the Padres and my takes on the lot:

ESPN

  1. Houston Astros – They’ve won 9 in a row against some really convincing teams, I can buy that.
  2. Tampa Bay Rays – The Rays are pretty good so far this season, no? Best in the AL East says a lot, I can buy this.
  3. Milwaukee Brewers – Beating the Dodgers is a plus for us, sure. I’ll buy it.
  4. New York Mets – Here’s where the bias is starting to show. Sure the Metropolitans are 9-6, but they split the last 4 against the Braves (who rank lower) and have split the season series so far against Washington. Meh. Something something rookie doing really well.
  5. Seattle Mariners – Owners of the hottest start in baseball just got swept by number 1. Still pretty good, though.
  6. Los Angeles Dodgers – Ok, really? 9-8 after dropping 6 in a row before last night and they’re 6th? Hard sell.
  7. ┬áSt. Louis Cardinals – They swept the team ranked just above them and split the Mexico Series against the Reds. Makes total sense, right?
  8. Atlanta Braves – Split the last series against the Mets. Have otherwise beat up on the Rockies and Cubs. Meh.
  9. Philadelphia Phillies – BRYCE HARPER IS ON THIS TEAM. Does it make sense that they’ve owned the Braves so far and Atlanta is a spot higher? Nah. East Coast.
  10. New York Yankees – Now we’re really stretching the east coast thing. The Yanks are 6-9. The Yanks are injured. Hard hard sell.
  11. Washington Nationals – The Bryce-less Nats are 7-7. Their bullpen ERA is 7.75. I hear Anthony Rendon is doing stuff, though.
  12. Boston Red Sox – Off to one of the worst starts by a defending champion. They’re currently losing a series to the Orioles. The Orioles. Boston has been beaten by teams ranked far lower on the “power rankings” list. Big sell.
  13. San Diego Padres

Oh, finally! We’ve finally arrived at the Padres, current holders of the National League’s best record at 11-6. Despite a 7-3 road trip, ESPN sees the Padres are still less deserving of a higher ranking than teams with much lesser records and teams they’re currently ahead of in their own division.

Before you think I’ve taken a full swig of the Kool-Aid and am being a full-blown homer, we can step back and look at the facts. Yes, the Padres have played relatively inferior competition as of late (mainly beating up on the hapless Giants) though they have a series win against St. Louis, who ranks higher than the Pads and below…the team they swept. The Padres currently own a -3 run differential…which isn’t even the worst in the National League for a 1st place team. That belongs to the Brewers with a -6 and they’re 10 spots higher. The peripheral stats aren’t promising or indicative of a dominating team outside of the pitching, and we’re starting to see the seams fray on the overused bullpen.

Even I’ll be the first to admit the wins have felt precarious…but that’s the beauty of this year’s Pads cast. Even when the team is down, they’re not out. We’ve seen plenty of comeback wins and just got done scrapping out some Ws against the Diamondbacks. The real test probably won’t come until the Mariners arrive and start the gamut of contending teams (Nationals, Braves, Dodgers, Mets). We may have a real temperature on where the Padres stand in the baseball landscape for the season come the middle of May.

Look, I get it. These power rankings mainly rely on past trends, history, and where teams are supposed to be. MLB.com’s power rankings at least admit it but don’t go as far as to really explain some of their picks (the Dodgers one is especially flimsy). The Padres reside in the 14th spot on that particular ranking, which feels like one spot more of a slight.

For now the collective fanbase has a first place team on its hands, and no amount of east coasting can take that away.

 

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Jay Stokes
Member
Jay Stokes

I trust the peripherals more that wins and losses. Though often not discussed much, I think BP’s adjusted standings show the team’s inherent quality the best.
https://legacy.baseballprospectus.com/standings/index.php?dispgroup=all&standings_sort=pct2

By this measure, on the “second order”, we are 18th in MLB (23rd for “third order”). This is not a top five team. We are winning almost all of the close games and losing by large margins. I doubt this is a controllable feature set. Arguably you can use your best reliever assets in close games, so perhaps some is in control, but not much. Generally W/L in close games is a lot of luck, both good and bad. We have had a lot of good thus far.

The most exciting parts are seeing the OF look like it might gel into something really good and seeing FTJ making a pretty smooth transition to the bigs. And Machado looking good. Our pitching is still reliant on young, soft tossing pitchers which is not a recipe for dominance, though would obviously exclude Paddack from that conversation.

The future still looks pretty good once we cut Hosmer and swap in Myers back at first (or he starts hitting, though feel the former more likely than the latter, though neither look very likely right now) and the young pitchers develop. But I doubt we are a serious playoff team. Maybe the good keeps being good and the bad changes, so the team improves, but if we play anything like what we have seen thus far, we are probably a near .500 team. Which is a big step in a good direction but not the top of any rankings.