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Let’s look at the Padres by Wins Above Replacement

There are a few standouts, not a lot of surprises

MLB: San Diego Padres at Colorado Rockies Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

As a disappointing season draws to a close, it’s a good time to look backwards then ahead with an eye to better baseball. There’s a crop of prospects banging on the door, and at the major-league level, people whose auditions for the 2022 season are worthy of attention.

This week against the San Francisco Giants, they managed to split the series, including big contributions from several of this season’s most valuable Padres in the two wins:

  • Fernando Tatis Jr was 6-for-8 in the last two games with a home run
  • Manny Machado was 3-for-10 with three RBI;
  • Jurickson Profar helped greatly with three hits and home run
  • Adam Frazier, the main trade acquisition AJ Preller made at the deadline, had seven hit in 10 at-bats
  • Joe Musgrove had another quality start, his team-leading 15th

Here, in order, are the Top 10 Padres in value to the team, measured in Wins Above Replacement (WAR), per Baseball Reference:

  1. Fernando Tatis Jr – 6.5
  2. Manny Machado – 4.9
  3. Jake Cronenworth – 4.7
  4. Joe Musgrove – 3.3
  5. Trent Grisham – 2.6
  6. Mark Melancon – 1.9
  7. Ha-seong Kim – 1.8
  8. Blake Snell 1.3
  9. Craig Stammen – 1.3
  10. Tommy Pham – 1.2

Pierce Johnson (1.1 WAR), Wil Myers (0.9 WAR), and Eric Hosmer (0.9 WAR) are next in line.

If you’re wondering, the worst players on the team are: Chris Paddack (-0.8 WAR), Luis Campusano (-0.5 WAR), Tim Hill (-0.4 WAR) and Daniel Camarena (-0.4 WAR).

Surprises? Certainly not Tatis and Machado. But it’s great—and maybe unexpected—to see Craig Stammen in that list.

What do these individual WAR totals mean in absolute terms? Below is Fangraphs’ chart decoding WAR over a season.

Source: What is WAR? Fangraphs

There’s good news and bad. The good news: with his 6.6 WAR, Tatis is the team MVP, confirming what we all already believed. Machado and Cronenworth are All-Stars. Musgrove is a “good player” and Trent Grisham is a “solid starter,” which is a reassuring level of performance to see from him over the course of a season. Melancon and Kim are sniffing around the same level.

Let’s put WAR totals in a little greater perspective. The current MLB WAR leaders are Zack Wheeler (7 WAR), Robbie Ray (6.8 WAR) and Marcus Semien (6.7 WAR), with Tatis ranking fourth and Machado 29th.

In Padres historical terms, 8.6 WAR season is what Tony Gwynn achieved in 1987, leading all-time Padres WAR, he is alto fifth with a 6.7 WAR in 1986 season. Tatis ranks 6th in Padres history with his 6.6 WAR só far this season, Chase Headley comes next with a 6.4 WAR (2012).

Tatis is now 24th in Padres franchise history in career WAR, passing Will Venable.

Now here’s the bad: according to Fangraphs, the rest-of-the-best clock in somewhere between “Role Player” (1-2 WAR) and “Scrub” (0-1 WAR). That includes Melancon, Kim, Snell, Stammen, Pham, Myers, Hosmer. In other words, the sixth-best Padre is a replaceable piece on another team.

If you want to be optimistic about it, though, there’s an argument to be made that the No. 6-10 bunch (except Stammen) have more to show, none having hit their season-best performance.