After Lincecum No-Hitter, Are Padres Officially Worst Offense in a Generation?

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After Lincecum No-Hitter, Are Padres Officially Worst Offense in a Generation?
Eric Risberg/Associated Press

After throwing a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres for the second time in as many seasons on Wednesday, it's safe to say Tim Lincecum likes facing the Friars.

Then again, these days, so does everyone else.

Even before they were stymied yet again by Lincecum—almost exactly a year after he twirled a no-no in San Diego—the Padres couldn't hit water if they stumbled off a Carnival cruise liner.

Entering play Wednesday, the Padres were dead last—30th out of 30—in batting average (.216), on-base percentage (.275), slugging percentage (.340) and runs scored (238).

Four regulars—Chase Headley, Carlos Quentin, Will Venable and Yasmani Grandal—are hitting below the Mendoza Line, while Seth Smith leads the team in home runs and RBI—with eight and 24, respectively.

Despite a pitching staff that ranks among the top 10 in ERA and opponents' batting average, San Diego is 34-45, 12.5 games out in the National League West.

"Obviously, when you're not scoring runs consistently it makes it tough to really get anything going," skipper Bud Black told NBC San Diego.

"It will come," Black added. "There will be a time when we start swinging the bats, the runs will come, the pitching will start clicking and you'll see those consecutive wins."

If it does come, general manager Josh Byrnes won't be around to see it. On June 22, San Diego axed Byrnes, who was hired in October 2011, saying in a statement that "expectations have not been reached," per MLB.com.

Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

That's one way of putting it. Another is that the Padres are on pace for a historically feckless offensive performance.

The worst in a generation? Could be.

San Diego's stiffest competition, if you want to call it that, might come from the recent past: The 2013 Miami Marlins also finished dead last in virtually every major offensive category. Their collective batting average (.231) and OBP (.293) were a tick better than those of the 2014 Padres, though their slugging percentage (.335) was a tad worse.

The Seattle Mariners, another recent contender for the futility crown, put up back-to-back punchless seasons in 2010 (.236 AVG, .298 OBP, .339 SLG) and 2011 (.233 AVG, .292 OBP, .348 SLG).

It's tough to compare numbers much further back than that, as we begin to tread into the steroid years, but park- and era-adjusted sabermetrics stats such as wRC+ (see FanGraphs for an explanation) place the 2004 Arizona Diamondbacks, 2003 Los Angeles Dodgers and 2001 Montreal Expos among the lightest-hitting clubs of the 21st century.

Are the 2014 San Diego Padres the worst-hitting team in a generation?

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Speaking of adjustments: Petco Park is, admittedly, one of the most pitcher-friendly yards in baseball. Doesn't that at least partially explain San Diego's struggles?

Maybe. But get this: The Padres are hitting .213 on the road compared to a "robust" .218 at home, and they've hit nearly as many home runs (26) in spacious Petco as they have away from it (29).

All right, that's a lot of numbers. To truly appreciate how dreadful these Padres have been at the plate, though—to fully grasp their utter haplessness—you've got to watch them in action.

Wednesday versus Lincecum was a microcosmic case study.

Not to take anything away from Timmy—his command was good and his off-speed stuff was working—but against a Padres team that flailed at changeups, missed a few mistakes, hit almost nothing hard and pounded pitch after pitch into the dirt, he looked like the Cy Young Award winner of old.

Yet even after his no-hitter, Lincecum's ERA stood at 4.42. No doubt it'd be a good deal lower if he could pitch against San Diego every five days.

Eric Risberg/Associated Press

There's still a lot of season left. Guys such as Venable and Quentin—solid contributors last season—could rebound and elevate the Padres from terrible to merely mediocre. Before Linceum's gem, the Padres scored 13 runs in two games—and won both—against the first-place San Francisco Giants.

Heck, San Diego could even rip off a winning streak, as Black predicted. Stranger things have happened. If it does happen, it'd be a fitting tribute to Mr. Padre himself, Tony Gwynn, whose otherworldly stroke the team could desperately use right now.

If things continue like this, though, the Padres will go down in history in the worst way possible—as the team everyone wanted to face.

 

All stats are courtesy of ESPN.com or Baseball-Reference.com except where noted.

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