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James Davis

MLB Betting Preview - Can Machado save the pathetic Padres?

This is DFSR's MLB preseason series in which we'll highlight some season-long win/loss prop bets on a number of different teams. Look for these coming out over the course of the next few weeks, with 6-8 teams highlighted as potentially strong bets on projected win totals going into the season. We've already covered the Reds and how their new additions could lead to a strong season. Then there's the Diamondbacks who could be in line for a really rough season. And of course, the Phillies with the addition of Bryce Harper. Now let's take a look at the San Diego Padres and how Manny Machado changes the team's outlook.

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Padres San Diego Padres

2018 Record: 66-96
2018 Pythagorean Record: 65-97
2019 Over/Under Wins: 78.5

Key Additions
Manny Machado
Ian Kinsler

Key Losses
Nobody good.

Projected Lineup
Ian Kinsler
Wil Myers
Manny Machado
Hunter Renfroe
Eric Hosmer
Manuel Margot
Luis Urias
Austin Hedges

Projected Starting Rotation
Joey Lucchesi
Robbie Erlin
Eric Lauer
Matt Strahm
Jacob Nix (but there are a lot of options here).

Welcome back to our preseason MLB betting series. Hopefully, you’ve been following along, and you caught my piece on how we should bet the Phillies given their bevy of off-season additions. Well, I decided I’d go from one coast to the other and cover the other team that landed a $300 million dollar free agent: the San Diego Padres.

The 2018 Padres were about as unexciting as you could possibly imagine, netting the second worst run differential in the NL on the back of scoring the third fewest runs in the majors. Their 65-97 Pythagorean record was just a win lower than their putrid 66-96 record, so we’re looking at a team that was just as bad as their record appeared to be.

It’s interesting, though, with these truly terrible teams. When you have this many bad players, often times adding just league average production can mean a big improvement in the wins department. They added Machado, which is all well and good, but as we know by now no single player is worth a 14 win upgrade over his predecessors. So how many wins should we project the Dads for going into 2019? Let’s have a look.

We’ll begin by addressing the elephant in the room: Manny Machado. The Padres look ready to play him at 3rd base, shifting Wil Myers to left field, and Hunter Renfroe to right. It looks like promising rookie Franmil Reyes rates to be the odd man out here, which is sort of odd considering he posted an .838 OPS as a 22-year-old (better than both Myers and Renfroe, for what that’s worth).

Machado will thus be replacing one of the Padres’ better hitters, and moving Myers and Renfroe to different spots in the process. Steamer and Zips have Reyes providing roughly a 2.0 WAR in 135 games if he were to play this season, and have Machado as a 5.4 WAR player. An improvement to be sure – but not as significant as Bryce Harper replacing Nick Williams’ production in Philly.

After that, the Padres’ other big offensive addition was Ian Kinsler. Current depth charts have him playing 2nd base, with Luis Urias manning the shortstop position. These two will be replacing the uninspiring production of Freddy Galvis and Cory Spangenberg. These two were one of the worst up-the-middle infielder duos in all of the majors last season, netting 1.8 WAR on a combined 278 games. Steamer and ZiPS are somewhat split on how Kinsler and Urias will contribute, but one area where they agree completely is that the Urias/Kinsler duo should be an improvement over last year’s debacle. Urias is still very young, and his glove alone should carry him to being a 2 WAR player. Kinsler is not the offensive player he used to be, but he should be better than Spangeberg’s .660 OPS. Overall we’ll call this pair being worth 2 wins over last year’s guys.

Elsewhere, most projection systems see the improvement of guys like Manuel Margot and Wil Myers as an inevitability. That shouldn’t be hard for Margot, who was one of the least productive players in the majors last season, and a fully healthy Wil Myers could certainly return to his 2016 form in what is still just his age 28 season. Still, we’re not looking at especially profound gains here.
Speaking of some of the worst players in the league, the Padres still seem intent on playing Eric Hosmer, who managed to contribute below replacement performances both offensively and defensively for a dismal -.1 WAR last year.

And this is sort of the theme for the Padres – it’s just tough for a group of players to be this bad and keep their jobs. Is there a world where Franmil Reyes plays left field, and Wil Myers gets some first base reps? Sure. I’m just not sure if you should bet on it. Still, the case for the Padres over has to come at least in part from them getting sick of watching these guys suck it up every night, and making some addition by subtraction moves as the season progresses.

As for the pitching staff, you can’t really say a lot of nice things about what the Padres have done there. They’ve returned mostly the same group of young guys who look like never-will-bes or guys who aren’t quite there yet. There’s room for optimism with pitchers like Joey Lucchesi or Robbie Erlin, but given how shaky the back end of that rotation looks (and how little depth they have if anyone were to go down) it’s impossible to be bullish about any net wins coming from this group. Still, someone like Matt Strahm could surprise, and they got such poor production from the back end of their rotation last year that it would be tough for them to be much worse.

So where does that leave us? In spite of a flashy off-season splash, the Padres are going to have a tough time adding the 13 wins they need to hit the over on this total this year. There is some risk here because adding just about anyone to the back of their rotation, first base, center field, or catcher could lead to some instant improvements, but I think there is enough security here that I can confidently recommend to bet the under on 78.5 wins.

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