We now know Padres manager Bob Melvin to be an optimist.
For 2 1/2 weeks, the Padres’ offense has struggled. Their .221 batting average ranked 21st in the Majors entering Tuesday. Their .351 slugging percentage ranked 18th. And yet, San Diego is 10-7.
“We continue to win games, we’ve won series, and to do it without some offense — those are silver-lining type things you look for,” said Melvin. “… I try to look at it from a positive angle. We’re still winning some games without the offense, and I really believe it’s going to come.”
So how do the Padres get there? How do they break out of this season-long offensive funk? Here’s a four-step fix:
Step 1: Get Cronenworth (and Grisham and Myers) going
Jake Cronenworth’s track record is solid enough that the Padres shouldn’t be too concerned. He’s posted a .636 OPS this season, but he showed signs of a breakout on Saturday. If he hits like he usually does, the Padres have a solid middle of the order, centered around Manny Machado and Cronenworth. Perhaps more concerning is the performance of Trent Grisham and Wil Myers. Both have been streaky in the past and are batting under .200. Neither will be asked to carry the offense, but both need to be more productive.
Step 2: Trade for an outfielder
Entering the year with an outfield mix of Myers-Grisham-Jurickson Profar was always a risk. Even if Grisham and Myers get hot, the Padres could use another hitter in the mix. A corner-outfield bat would give Myers and Profar a few days off (and perhaps form something of a platoon). Plus, if both are clicking, San Diego has the designated hitter spot to work with.
Step 3: Keep doing what they’re doing everywhere else
“Good defense, good pitching, quality at-bats, and somehow find a way to win,” Cronenworth said, summing up the Padres’ early season identity. For the most part, they’ve nailed it. Their defense set a record with 16 errorless games to open the season. Their pitching has been excellent. And their situational hitting has been good enough. Plus, they’ll only need to tread water this way for so long, because …
Step 4: Fernando Tatis Jr. will be back
The Padres have gotten some of the league’s worst shortstop production this season. They also have the sport’s most productive offensive shortstop on the IL, expected to return in mid-to-late June. So yeah, Tatis will be quite an upgrade. Melvin summed the whole situation up thusly:
“We’re not at full strength right now either, and we’re still winning some games. I’ve talked often about putting a priority on: What’s our identity? It’s baserunning, it’s defense, it’s doing enough offensively, knowing we’re going to get some good pitching. For the most part, we’ve been pretty good about that.
“But we will have some guys coming too. One is a shortstop, a big part of this lineup. If we continue to play well, win games and win series, keep ourselves in a good position, then we’re going to add to this mix. … I think this team gets better as the season goes along. I think you’ll see some of these guys that have track records — Cronenworth, Wil Myers, Grisham — those guys are going to start swinging the bat better.”