The San Diego Padres 2022 season was nothing short of spectacular. So many memorable nights, the ups and downs of it all have left the Friar faithful hungry for more. Once, the Padres lost to the Phillies, coming so close to a World Series berth. It was all about how Padres General Manager A.J. Preller can improve this team. Not only to make it back where they were but this time even farther.
For so long, the San Diego Padres were seen as the little brother to the Los Angeles Dodgers. After knocking them out in the playoffs, a great feeling. The Padres land in a territory they haven’t been in for so long. Entering the 2023 season, the Padres look to be one of the clear-cut World Series contenders for the first time in a while. Now with the addition of Xander Bogaerts, a full season of Juan Soto, and the return of Fernando Tatis Jr, it’s time to officially welcome the dawn of the World Series-contending Padres. Let’s dive into the offseason and why the Friar faithful should be ecstatic for what’s on the horizon.
1. Xander Bogaerts
Let’s start things off with the elephant in the room, the addition of Xander Bogaerts. The 30-year-old shortstop signed with the San Diego Padres for a whopping eleven-year, $280,000,000 deal that included a five million dollar signing bonus. The former Red Sox infielder, mostly known for his contact ability, also brings strong defensive play at the shortstop position for San Diego. According to Baseballsavant.mlb.com, Xander Bogaerts ranks in the eighty-eighth percentile for outs above average, a significant sign of how valuable Bogaerts’ defensive game can be. Last season with Boston, Xander had a .307 batting average, fifteen home runs, and seventy-three runs batted in over five-hundred and fifty-seven at-bats. Without a doubt, this is a game-changing addition for the Padres and one that fans should be looking forward to.
2. Pitching Rotation
The next reason San Diego Padres fans should be excited heading into 2023 is how deep the Padres’ pitching rotation will be. It’s no doubt the Padres’ pitching was a huge factor in why the team got so far, but another season of Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, and Blake Snell should have fans excited. Now what makes this a little more unique than usual is what happens with the back end of the rotation. After signing veteran right-hander Seth Lugo from the New York Mets this offseason, the Padres look to have gotten another intriguing option to add to the back end. Paired up with Nick Martinez as the four and five starters, it’s clear A.J. Preller plans on relying heavily on the front three in 2023. However, don’t underestimate what Lugo can bring to the Padres. The 33-year-old right-handed pitcher ranks in the eighty-sixth percentile for HardHit percentage per Baseball-reference.com and has promising metrics in walk percentage, fastball velocity, and fastball spin. The Padres’ new arm generates lots of soft contact, relying on the Padres’ infield to make the routine plays. With Ha-Seong Kim, Manny Machado, and the newly signed Xander Bogaerts. This looks like a setup well fit for this Padres infield.
3. Return of Fernando Tatis Jr.
The third and arguably the biggest reason that Padres fans should be excited about the 2023 season is the return of Fernando Tatis Jr. The 24-year-old shortstop has been one of the league’s most impressive stars since his debut year. Tatis missed the entire 2022 season, mainly due to a wrist injury that was suffered in the 2022 offseason, but also an eighty-game suspension for the use of a banned substance. Now the relationship among most fans with Tatis Jr. may still be fragile, the arguable face of the franchise broke the hearts of the Padres fan base after being suspended. It may take some time before San Diego fans forgive Fernando still, but there is no denying Tatis is one of the best players in the league. Tatis ranks in the ninety-eighth percentile in HardHit percentage, eighty-fifth percentile in expected batting average, and in the ninety-ninth percentile in Barrel percentage, according to Baseballsavant.mlb.com. The Padres shortstop looks to be coming back as an outfielder, joining Juan Soto for the first time since the massive acquisition. After a year removed from the Padres, fans can often forget how much Fernando Tatis Jr. means to the franchise. In 2021, Tatis had a .282 batting average, forty-two home runs, and ninety-seven runs batted in. The Padres’ 24-year-old star looks to make his much-anticipated return on April 20th.
It’s safe to say I’m absolutely pumped for what’s to come in 2023, hopefully, after reading this, you are as well too. Padres General Manager A.J Preller has faced a lot of criticism in his time with San Diego, but man, has he built a potential super team here. The future couldn’t be more exciting for the Friar faithful, and opening day can’t come soon enough. With the franchise being guided by superstar Manny Machado, the additions of Juan Soto and Xander Bogaerts on top of the return of Fernando Tatis Jr, get ready, Padres fans, because this team is for real.
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