August 13, 2022

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Grading the Padres' first month of the season

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This story was excerpted from AJ Cassavell’s Padres Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The Padres wrap up April in Pittsburgh this weekend, and it’s hard to view the first month as anything but a success.

Sure, they could’ve won an extra game or two against the Giants and Dodgers. But their 13-7 record is among the best in baseball, and they’ve mostly taken care of business against sub-.500 teams like the Reds and D-backs. (Lest we forget just how much the Padres struggled in that department last season.)

Without further ado, here are some April awards and grades for the 2022 Padres:

April MVP: Eric Hosmer
Strong case for Manny Machado, too. But Hosmer has done it all. He’s leading the Majors with a .415 batting average, and if he keeps that up through Saturday, he’d be the first qualifying Padre to finish April hitting above .400 since Tony Gwynn in 1999. Hosmer’s biggest area of improvement from 2021 is that he’s laying off breaking pitches outside the zone. But he’s also hitting the ball in the air more often. Defensively, Hosmer has played a steady first base and has been particularly clean with his scoops. Remember, just last month the Padres were close to dealing Hosmer for what seemed like pennies on the dollar. Considering the way he’s helped carry a slumping offense, probably a good thing they didn’t.

Pitcher of the Month: Joe Musgrove
Musgrove’s breaking pitches are generally very, very good. But the most impressive aspect of Musgrove’s performance is the way he consistently delivers, even when his stuff isn’t quite there. He’s begun the season with four consecutive quality starts. In two of those starts, he was dealing. The Padres won ’em both. In two of those starts, however, Musgrove truly had to battle. The Padres won ’em both.

Reliever of the Month: Steven Wilson
Some people in the Padres’ organization think Wilson’s stuff is closer material. But they wanted to see how he would handle the big league stage in his rookie season. Well, Wilson retired 21 straight before he surrendered a solo Tommy Pham homer on Wednesday. Taylor Rogers has been similarly excellent at the back end. But it’s Wilson who has stepped up to cover high-leverage set-up innings, while a handful of other relievers have dealt with injuries.

Offense: B-
This offense needed a week in Cincinnati, facing a bad team in a hitter’s park, to get itself on track. And it did exactly that. It’s important to remember that offense is down across the league. The Padres had posted a 109 wRC+ entering Thursday, meaning they’ve been 9% better than league average offensively — even if they struggled against their two primary NL West rivals, the Dodgers and Giants.

Defense: A+
The Padres’ defense hasn’t just been good. It’s been, perhaps, the best defensive unit in baseball. Their 16-game season-opening errorless streak set a record for the modern era (since 1901). And it’s not just errors — they’ve been rangy and well-positioned, too. San Diego’s 24 defensive runs saved entering Thursday were tops in the Majors.

Pitching: A-
Only a couple poor outings — Yu Darvish against the Giants, Sean Manaea against the Dodgers, the bullpen’s Opening Day implosion — hold this group back from getting an ‘A.’ Because, otherwise, the Padres’ pitching staff has been outstanding. It’s a formidable rotation that might even have too many options. The bullpen, with Rogers and Wilson leading the charge, has done its job, too.

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