The San Diego Padres were the biggest surprise of the 2010 season, as they led the NL West for most of the year only to fall just short of the playoffs. Solid pitching, consistent defense, and timely hitting were the recipe for success for a team with only one true superstar in Adrian Gonzalez.
As spring training quickly approaches, the team has numerous unanswered questions, including how well will the offense will perform without Adrian Gonzalez. Will the acquisitions of Brad Hawpe, Jason Bartlett, and Cameron Maybin fill the void that Gonzalez left when the team traded him to the Red Sox this off season?
In addition, will the young pitching staff continue to provide the league’s best ERA, despite receiving some of the worst run support in the National League?
Jason Bartlett (SS)
Brad Hawpe (1B,OF)
Cameron Maybin (OF)
Orlando Hudson (2B, SS)
Adrian Gonzalez – Traded to Boston
Miguel Tejada – Signed with San Francisco
Players to Target
The two players who have the most fantasy value in 2011 are closer Heath Bell and starting pitcher Mat Latos. Bell had a career best 47 saves in 2010, posting an impressive 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings with an ERA of 1.93.
Latos emerged as the team’s ace in 2010, posting a 14-10 record with a 2.93 ERA in only his second major league season. I look for Latos to have similar stats in 2011, as he will likely have close to 200 K’s with double digit wins.
I am a little concerned that Bell will not have as many save opportunities due to the overall struggles the team will likely endure. Bell will still be a top 10 closer, however I would be surprised if he has a third straight season of 40 plus saves.
Cameron Maybin was drafted tenth overall in the 2005 amateur draft by the Detroit Tigers, and was ranked by Baseball America as the third best hitting prospect in that draft. That promise has yet to come to fruition in the majors, and Maybin was traded to the Marlins as part of the Miguel Cabrera deal. The Marlins in turn traded Maybin to the Padres for a couple of pitchers after the 2010 season.
The primary reason why Maybin is my sleeper choice for the Padres is his ability to steal bases and score runs. Although he has yet to display his speed in the majors, Bud Black and the Padres are a running team that will utilize Maybin’s speed. Look for him to steal 25 bases this year while scoring close to 100 runs, making him a decent sleeper in NL-only leagues.