SAN DIEGO — It's a day 14 years in the making. The San Diego Padres are back in the postseason taking on the St. Louis Cardinals on September 30. The team ended the coronavirus shortened season with a 37-23 record. The team's .617 winning percentage is the highest in team history!
Although the Padres are back in the postseason dance, winning it all won’t be easy. The Padres' opening-round opponent has been their kryptonite over the last few postseason appearances. The St. Louis Cardinals hold a 9-1 postseason record over the Padres dating back to 1996. Most recently the Cardinals ended the Padres postseason runs both in 2005 and in 2006.
However, it is not all doom and gloom. This Padres team is far different from the ones back in the early 2000s and we will show that to you here, by breaking down the numbers put up by the 2006 Padres starting lineup versus the 2020 starting lineup.
Starting pitchers- In 2006, the Padres trotted out Jake Peavy, Chris Young and Clay Hensley as the team's top arms. In 2020 the Padres top three arms included Dinelson Lamet, Zach Davies and Mike Clevinger who was acquired at the trade deadline. Although 2020 was a shortened season the starters had a much higher win percentage and an ERA a full point less than that of the 2006 squad.
2006: 33-31 record (.516) – 3.75 ERA
2020: 13-7 record (.650) – 2.55 ERA
Catcher- The 2006 team turned to a 37-year old Hall of Famer in Mike Piazza to guide the pitching staff while 2020 ended up being a bit of a carousel. The shortened season started off with Austin Hedges doing the majority of the catching, but midway through the year Hedges was shipped off in a trade to the Indians and the Padres brought in Austin Nola.
2006 Piazza: .283 batting average in 439 plate appearances
2020 Hedges: .158 batting average in 71 plate appearances
2020 Nola: .222 batting average in 74 plate appearances
First Base- This position was one of the strong ones for both the 2006 and 2020 clubs. In 2006 the team had a 24-year old Adrian Gonzalez in his first year with the Padres after a trade from the Texas Rangers. In 2020 the team had a resurgent Eric Hosmer for the majority of the time except for a short stint after Hosmer broke a finger on a bunt attempt.
2006 Gonzalez: .304 batting average in 631 plate appearances
2020 Hosmer: .287 batting average in 156 plate appearances
Second Base- The 2006 team had Josh Barfield playing second while the 2020 squad had 26-year old rookie, Jake Cronenworth playing the position. Early reports from many baseball writers are that Cronenworth is the odds on favorite to win the National League Rookie of the Year award for the numbers he put up in 2020. Oh, and did we mention, Cronenworth can pitch too!
2006 Barfield: .280 batting average in 578 plate appearances
2020 Cronenworth: .285 batting average in 192 plate appearances
Shortstop- This has long been an area of need for the San Diego Padres, but both in 2006 and in 2020 the team had some studs manning the position. In 2006 the team had Khalil Greene and in 2020 the team had all-world phenom, Fernando Tatis Jr. Many people throughout the major leagues think Fernando Tatis Jr. will win the Most Valuable Player in the National League.
2006 Greene: .245 batting average in 460 plate appearances
2020 Tatis Jr.: .277 in 257 plate appearances – He was also one home run behind the National League leader with 17 on the shortened season.
Third base- This is the one position that the 2020 Padres have the most significant upgrade from the 2006 squad. In 2006 the team had a third base platoon of Mark Bellhorn and Geoff Blum. In 2020 the team had another Most Valuable Player candidate in Manny Machado.
2006 Bellhorn: .190 batting average in 288 plate appearances
2006 Blum: .254 batting average in 299 plate appearances
2020 Machado: .304 batting average in 254 plate appearances – Machado was two home runs behind the National League leader with 16 on the shortened season.
Left Field- The 2006 team had Dave Roberts, the current Los Angeles Dodgers manager, roaming left field. The 2020 team saw Jurickson Profar playing left for the majority of the season due to Tommy Pham being out with a broken bone in his hand.
2006 Roberts: .293 batting average in 567 plate appearances
2020 Profar: .278 batting average in 202 plate appearances
2020 Pham: .211 batting average in 125 plate appearances
Center Field- In 2006 Mike Cameron patrolled center field in Petco Park. He took home a gold glove and was 21st in MVP voting for his season. In 2020 the team had their first year of Trent Grisham who proved to be an incredibly reliable and clutch player for the 2020 squad.
2006 Cameron: .268 batting average in 634 plate appearances
2020 Grisham: .251 batting average in 252 plate appearances
Right Field- Brian Giles was the man in right field for the 2006 Padres team. It was the right fielder's third full season with the team. 2020 saw Wil Myers return to his all-star level form with many insiders saying he is the front runner to take home the Comeback Player of the Year award.
2006 Giles: .263 batting average in 717 plate appearances
2020 Myers: .288 batting average in 218 plate appearances
Designated Hitter- One more unique thing about the 2020 season was the addition of the designated hitter to the National League. This means the pitchers no longer had to hit. The Padres didn't have the luxury of having a DH back in 2006, but in 2020 the spot was taken by Mitch Moreland. Moreland was traded to the Padres from the Boston Red Sox right before the MLB trade deadline.
2020 Moreland: .266 batting average in 152 plate appearances
Full team breakdowns:
When it comes down to full team batting average, the 2006 squad was 23rd in the MLB, hitting at a .263 clip for the season. The 2020 team was 10th in the MLB hitting .257 on the season.
The Padres have been remarkably consistent on the mound, and the team hopes that consistency equates to wins this postseason. The whole staff ERA in 2006 was second-best in the majors at 3.87 while logging a 1.27 WHIP. The 2020 team was 8th in all of the majors with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP.
Instead of giving you an overall score for each team to determine which was better - we will let the 2020 playoffs decide!