While any MLB regular season is nothing less than a thrilling ride, it is the unpredictability of the postseason that never fails to deliver baseball fans instant electricity. A team that hits its stride at the right time is better suited to play spoiler than one who dominates early, but falters late. A balanced attack including pitching, power, team management, defensive efficiency, player health, and more are all needed to formulate the end goal: raising the trophy. The San Diego Padres have a star-studded roster more than capable of winning it all in 2023, and the exact formula to do so. Fans of the team have been waiting for this moment for decades, so how do they deliver next season and make it the most memorable one yet?
The first step is to have a healthy roster for the full 162 game season and beyond. San Diego Padres superstar Fernando Tatis Jr, the 23 year old who the team extended with an absurd 14 year/340 million dollar contract two seasons ago, has missed nearly half of his eligible games since entering the league in 2019. His on-field abilities have earned him the contract...but multiple issues have put a dark cloud over his short Padres tenure. In 2022, he did not appear in a game for the Padres due to multiple shoulder injuries from diving plays, wrist injuries from falling off a motorcycle, and the most notable setback, an 80-game PED suspension. Early in the 2023 season, Tatis Jr. will be able to make his long awaited return, and maturity must be shown by the youngster if he wants to be viewed as the face of the franchise. His impact on the game with speed, defense, power, passion, and electricity do not go unnoticed. In a press conference late last season, Padres manager Bob Melvin noted Tatis’ urge to return: "He's just looking forward to helping his team and getting back. I think he has a different perspective on things now, too. The hunger that he's going to have to come in and be part of this -- and help his team go farther than we did [in 2022] -- is pretty immense." Tatis’ goal is to bring home the first World Series in team history and fans are overjoyed. Getting the sport’s most valuable athlete back certainly does not hurt potential odds to win it all. However, if he or any other influential player cannot stay healthy for the Padres in 2023, that may pose an extremely tough challenge for the team and its high hopes.
There is no shortage of stars in San Diego. In particular, Manny Machado has been a leader and superstar since arriving in San Diego, posting multiple campaigns finishing top three in MVP voting. He brings an extra dose of composure and veteran presence that is so important for a club to reach its full potential. Opinion is one thing, but the numbers behind his 2022 campaign were video-game like–he batted a near .300 with 32 long balls and 100+ in RBIs and runs scored–and unmatched by any single player in baseball. Since signing a 10 year/300M dollar contract with San Diego, Manny Machado has allowed SD to go from worst to first. With his elite offensive abilities, defensive prowess, smart baserunning and leadership, Machado is ready to lead a steady charge for San Diego in 2023. He has also been one of the most durable players in baseball since entering the league in 2010, posting a resounding seven straight seasons of 150 games + (active streak). Nowadays, that is not something most players can boast. When his former manager, Buck Schowalter, was asked about why Machado is such a gifted player, he was clear to respond that Machado is "the type of kid who learns from things." On top of his top-notch skills, he possesses the ability to adapt and improve by each season. The numbers have clearly followed this notion. With age typically comes a dip in production, but Machado has proved time and time again that he rises up for his team. His presence on and off the field is practically a virtue.
Success in MLB (or any sport) starts from the top. Teams with a wise manager, GM, etc are most prepared and best-positioned for a great season. The San Diego Padres have an equipped staff that will get the most out of their talent. Padres manager Bob Melvin is entering his second season at the helm. He has been to the postseason many times and knows the recipe to win at the highest level. In 2021, Padres manager Jayce Tingler was incapable of righting the ship when the road got rocky, a big reason why the Padres fell late in the season and ultimately missed the postseason. In 2022, the Padres faced as much (if not more) adversity than they did in 2021; just consider the Tatis Jr. suspension. But this time, with a veteran manager, they were up to the task. A prime example of Padres leadership in 2022 occurred when they were shutout by a pitcher making his MLB debut midseason. It capped off the worst stretch of the long season, and it was the last straw for the Padres staff. Disgusted by the way his team had been performing, manager Bob Melvin called his team into the clubhouse and delivered a heated speech. Everything changed after that. Being able to bring over such a wise and respected manager to the Padres was a big time addition. At the helm of the team, general manager A.J. Preller has shown an aggressive willingness to spend loads of money and prospects to acquire top-tier talent. When asked about the team’s approach this off-season, he announced to the media, "We are always looking to continue to add." This is done with the mindset to bring San Diego closer to winning its first World Series, of course. However, he knows that execution must be the only outcome. Preller provides the tools, and the players go to work with them. The Padres would not be near the spot they are in now if it wasn’t for their well-constructed leadership. Having proper management is crucial, yet very overlooked. If the Padres want to get to the highest level, staff will play a distinct role.
Pitching has proved time and time again to be the main source of certainty in MLB. The Padres have more than enough to answer that call. They return a star-studded top of their rotation for 2023, one that carried the team through major offensive inconsistencies in 2022. It is easy for even the most loaded offense to falter on any given day, but having veteran arms who throw out consistent innings daily will always keep a team in the ball-game. The Padres edge almost every team in this department. Starting pitchers Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, and Blake Snell are as reliable and composed as any. MLB Statcast displays that more than 80% of teams who went on to win the World Series had better advanced pitching metrics than hitting metrics. Need more proof? Take the 2019 champion Washington Nationals (nothing more than average in the regular season) for example; their two headed monster with veteran aces in Max Scherzer and Steven Strasburg was the difference in a very lackluster battle against Houston. San Diego matches that with an array of high caliber arms ready to make an impact into October.
After making numerous moves in the offseason and retaining even more from the 2022 run, the formula to win a championship is all set, and this time backed with a proven method. Nonetheless, the San Diego Padres are ready to bring excitement in 2023 that has never been seen before. The team is set for success as currently constructed, and bound to only get better with Tatis Jr’s return and the addition of multiple quality players in free agency. In 2022, they got a taste of what making magic feels like. However, knocking on the door of a championship matchup was not all that the San Diego Padres have to offer. The first World Series in franchise history is well in sight!