Baseball is a team sport and blaming specific players for a team’s struggles isn’t always the best course of action. For the San Diego Padres though, the fact is that they would hold a better record than 19-20 if these players were performing up to their usual standards. Think of this article as more of a challenge to these players rather than criticizing them while they are down. Even manager Bob Melvin recently issued a stern challenge to his players, so perhaps that will help the Padres get things going in 2023.
Before discussing the three players to blame for the Padres tough start in 2023, it needs to be said that Juan Soto is not on this list. His 2023 struggles were well-documented early in the season, but Soto is still getting on-base at a high rate and holds a respectable .884 OPS.
Without further ado, here are three players to blame for San Diego’s underwhelming start in 2023.
* Stats via Baseball Reference.
Jake Cronenworth’s underperformance has flown under the radar for the Padres. However, people also forget he’s a two-time All-Star capable of adding important value to the offense. His defensive versatility helps matters as well. Cronenworth is a really good ball player when he’s going right, but 2023 has been a struggle so far for him.
Through 158 plate appearances, Cronenworth is slashing .229/.344/.389 with a .733 OPS. There are positives for Cronenworth, however.
His career high in stolen bases is four. He already has two in 2023, so he’s on pace to set a new career high in steals. He’s also never been much of a batter who hits for average, holding a career high batting average of .266 in seasons where he’s played 100 or more games. The low .229 batting average should even out at some point.
His OBP is right in line with his career average, while his slugging is right where it was a season ago. However, he did slug .460 back in 2021, so there is potential for more power.
There isn’t much reason to be worried about Cronenworth moving forward, but keeping tabs on the Padres infielder will be important as the season continues on.
Blake Snell has unquestionably endured his ups and downs over the past few years. After winning the AL Cy Young in 2018 with the Tampa Bay Rays, Snell has battled inconsistency. Through 41 games in 2023, Snell has labored mightily for San Diego.
The left-hander currently owns a 4.61 ERA and 1.537 WHIP. He has recorded 43 strikeouts, but he’s also walked 25 hitters. Base-on-balls have always been problematic for Snell, often forcing him to be removed from games earlier than he would prefer. He’s still capable of recording an impressive number of strikeouts, but the walks are an issue.
Additionally, Snell has also already allowed seven home runs in 2023. And when you are putting runners on-base, surrendering home runs is obviously not the best strategy.
Manny Machado finished second in MVP voting in 2022, and there were people around the league who felt that he deserved to win the award. After all, he carried the Padres to the playoffs despite Fernando Tatis Jr’s absence and Juan Soto’s struggles after the trade.
In 2023, Machado hasn’t performed anywhere near his same level of MVP-caliber production. The Padres superstar is currently hitting just .243/.288/.392 with a lackluster .679 OPS. He’s tallied five home runs and 18 RBI to go along with seven doubles.
If Machado was hitting .243 with better on-base and slugging numbers, there wouldn’t be much of a reason for concern. But his OBP, slugging, and OPS are extremely low for his lofty standards. For example, he slashed .298/.366/.531 with an .898 OPS in 2022. For his career, Machado owns a .281/.340/.490 slash line with an .830 OPS.
Manny Machado’s quality track record suggests he will rebound. His underwhelming start in 2023 has been a major reason for San Diego’s mediocrity though.
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