San Diego Padres: Pitching Still Key No Matter What Hoyer Says
Even though the excitement of the Cubs have created a widespread misconception, the San Diego Padres must still rely on dominant pitching to turn the organization around.
A recent New York Post piece made the argument that past experiments by the San Diego Padres have led to the recent success of the Chicago Cubs and the New York Mets. In the article, the writer Ken Davidoff claims that Cubs’ general manager Jed Hoyer is responsible for the booming Chicago and New York organizations.
In short, Davidoff details Hoyer’s tenure in San Diego, and emphasizes the importance of young position players on a rebuilding roster.
In 2010 and 2011, Hoyer and San Diego built their roster around pitching, as Mat Latos was their clear ace. The problem came when Latos and the rest of the pitching staff suddenly disappointed, causing the Padres to lose 19 more games in 2011 than they lost in 2010.
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Hoyer doesn’t exactly belittle the importance of pitching, but he certainly lacks respect for it. After all, the Cleveland Indians got to the World Series with pitching, striking out the fifth most hitters and recording the seventh lowest team ERA in 2016.
When looking back at recent World Series champions, this remains the case. The Kansas City Royals won it all in 2015 with one of the lowest bullpen ERA in history. The San Francisco Giants won three titles in five years thanks to Madison Bumgarner and an elite pitching staff.
Even the Cubs themselves have their pitching to thank more than their exciting young position players. In the regular season, Chicago topped all of baseball in ERA, as their pitching staff surrendered just 3.15 per nine innings. They also had the league leading starter in ERA, Kyle Hendricks, who was the team’s third starter in the postseason.
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Somehow, it seems that pitching does win championships. Sure, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, and Kris Bryant are elite young baseball players. But it is undeniable that pitching ended the drought. After all, Chicago’s offense only scored 11 runs in the first five games, yet their pitching kept them in the series. This was only because John Lester, Jake Arrieta, Hendricks, and John Lackey proved to be the most dominant rotation in the playoffs.
As for what did make Hoyer successful, it appears that it has been a combination of various factors. To chalk it all up to his style as a director of baseball operations is silly though. If it was that simple, general managers wouldn’t get paid as much as they do. Pitchers probably wouldn’t either.
So no, it wasn’t a failed San Diego experiment that led to the Cubs success. In fact, the way San Diego’s roster was put together in 2010 and 2011 set them up for possible long term success. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. Sometimes it just does work out. For the Cubs, it did. For the Padres, it didn’t. Chicago can only hope that their fortunes continue, and San Diego can only hope that their fortunes turn around. But the fact that having a dominant pitching staff is what will win championships still holds true, and will never change.