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John Dewan's Stat of the Week


The Downside of the Recent Padres Acquisitions

December 19, 2014

The Padres have had a lot of trouble in recent seasons adding power to their lineup. Current division rival Adrian Gonzalez has four of the team’s five seasons with 30 or more home runs since 2002. The other belongs to recently re-signed Yankee Chase Headley, who was unable to replicate his 2012 power for the Padres in the year and a half he remained with the team before being traded.

This offseason, the team has made several moves to attempt to correct that recent deficiency. Matt Kemp was an expensive player stuck in the outfield logjam in Los Angeles. After injury issues limited Kemp to 179 games from 2012-2013 and dramatically decreased his numbers, he showed signs of a return to his 2011 MVP runner-up production with his 17 second-half home runs. Wil Myers dealt with his own injury issues in 2014. Specifically, his broken wrist sapped the power that he showed in the minors and likely contributed heavily to his six-homer season, but he remains one of the best power prospects in baseball. The Padres' most recent acquisition, Justin Upton, has been more consistent with 27 and 29 home runs in his two seasons with the Braves.

All three hitters will have to contend with PETCO Park, which the Bill James Handbook 2015 indicates allowed 19 percent fewer home runs than an average park in 2014, but they seem like solid bets to add the pop the Padres have been missing. However, that power spike may come at a price in terms of team defense.

For the bulk of his career, Kemp has been a center fielder. And in recent seasons, he’s been one of the worst defensive center fielders in baseball. From 2009-2013, Kemp cost the Dodgers an average of 13 runs per season based on Defensive Runs Saved. Last season, the Dodgers played Kemp at all three outfield positions, but he did not see an improvement in his Runs Saved totals in the corner spots like many outfielders do. In all, Kemp cost the team 23 runs in 2014, the worst total of any outfielder in baseball.

Myers is younger and has less of a track record defensively, but he cost the Rays 11 runs in right field in close to a full season of playing time split over 2013 and 2014. Historically, Upton had been an above-average defensive right fielder, but he cost the Braves eight runs between 2013 and 2014 as a left fielder. In contrast, Padres’ outfielders saved the team 21 runs in 2014, alone. Here is how Kemp, Myers, and Upton compared last season:

Outfielders Runs Saved
Kemp, Myers, and Upton -30
Padres 2014 Outfield 15


Based on an estimate of 10 runs equaling a win, the defensive difference between the Padres’ previous outfielders and their new outfielders was worth about four or five wins in 2014. In all likelihood, Kemp, Myers, and Upton will provide a major upgrade to the team’s lineup, but they will have to in order to make up for the downgrade they represent defensively.

The team does have some options to help mitigate that defensive hit. Cameron Maybin has saved about six runs per season in his four seasons in center field for the team. Will Venable saved 10 runs split between left and right field last season. Perhaps the team can get creative with their lineups, such as by putting one of their new outfielders at first base in some starts. Even so, the team is unlikely to approach their 43 Runs Saved across all positions from 2014. They’ll just have to hope Kemp, Myers, and Upton can hit enough home runs to counterbalance their defensive decline.

Search Archived Stats of the Week

Published Date:

 TitlePublished Date
Edit The Downside of the Recent Padres Acquisitions Dec 19 2014
Edit The Flat Bat Award 2014 Dec 04 2014
Edit Mark Buehrle – One of the Most Durable Pitchers of All Time Nov 25 2014
Edit Is Madison Bumgarner the World's #1 Starting Pitcher? Nov 14 2014
Edit Giants Defensive Positioning a Big Assist in Game 7 Victory Nov 05 2014
Edit The 2014 Fielding Bible Awards Oct 30 2014
Edit Who Gives a Shift? Oct 23 2014
Edit Who are the 2014 Fielding Bible Award / Gold Glove Contenders? (Part II) Oct 06 2014
Edit Who are the 2014 Fielding Bible Award / Gold Glove Contenders? (Part I) Oct 01 2014
Edit Pitchers with the Best and Worst Run Support Sep 18 2014
Edit Which teams have come on in the second half? Sep 09 2014
Edit Instant Replay Sep 02 2014
Edit Top Defensive Players for 2014 Aug 20 2014
Edit Who Are The 2014 MVP Candidates? Aug 08 2014
Edit How Do Shifts Affect League-Wide Batting Averages? Jul 25 2014
Edit The Best and Worst Baserunners in 2014 Jul 18 2014
Edit The White Sox Blow Another Lead Jul 10 2014
Edit Shifts Against Right-Handed Hitters Jun 26 2014
Edit Cannon Arms in 2014 Jun 10 2014
Edit The Most Improved Defensive Teams Jun 06 2014
Edit How Many More No-Hitters This Year? May 29 2014
Edit Rookie of the Year – Tanaka or Abreu? May 16 2014
Edit Can the National League Reverse a 10-Year Trend? May 09 2014
Edit Who Are the Best and Worst Defensive Teams So Far? Apr 25 2014
Edit Shifts Still on the Rise Apr 18 2014
Edit Can the First 10 Games Predict Playoff Chances? Apr 11 2014
Edit Who Will Be The 2014 Statistical Leaders? Mar 31 2014
Edit Can Spring Training Statistics Predict Breakout Power Seasons? Mar 25 2014
Edit Who Will Be The Best Defenders In 2014? Mar 11 2014
Edit Sochi Olympics - Dominant Countries Feb 25 2014
Edit United States on Track for Most Olympic Medals Feb 17 2014
Edit Sochi Predictions Feb 10 2014
Edit Super Bowl Predictor System Jan 30 2014
Edit Throwing Strikes Jan 20 2014
Edit Cannon Arms in 2013 Jan 10 2014
Edit Teams that Best Controlled the Running Game Dec 30 2013
Edit Opponent OPS and the Cy Young Award Dec 20 2013
Edit The Flat Bat Award 2013 Dec 09 2013
Edit Tim Lincecum Breaks Our Defensive Rankings Nov 19 2013
Edit Who Was the Real AL MVP? Nov 15 2013
Edit Making a Great Defensive Play Then Leading Off the Next Inning Nov 05 2013
Edit The 2013 Fielding Bible Awards Oct 28 2013
Edit Boston-St. Louis World Series Oct 21 2013
Edit Who are the Fielding Bible Award / Gold Glove Contenders? (Part II) Oct 07 2013
Edit Who are the Fielding Bible Award / Gold Glove Contenders? (Part I) Oct 04 2013
Edit Simmons Has Company Sep 23 2013
Edit Who are the Slowest Players in Baseball? Sep 12 2013
Edit Does Playing Shallow Work? Sep 06 2013
Edit Easy and Tough Saves Aug 30 2013
Edit Best Single-Season Runs Saved Totals Aug 19 2013
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