The 2011 season has been a roller coaster year for the Padres, a team that, despite a fantastic 2010 year, had absolutely no expectations for greatness this year.
Many on the team and in the city still had faith that the Padres could duplicate a breakout season. So far, their faith has been crushed, mostly by a lack of offense from those the organization paid big bucks to lure into America's Finest City.
Big offseason additions, including Brad Hawpe, Jorge Cantu, Orlando Hudson and Jason Bartlett have all faced struggles this year, some more than others. Hawpe and Cantu, who were designated to play first base (and Cantu at third base also), have both played poorly.
Hawpe currently finds himself on the DL with a .231 BA, four home runs, and 19 RBI's. Cantu fared worse then Hawpe, and was released earlier in the year due to his complete lack of ability to contribute to the team.
Hudson and Bartlett have struggled, but for different reasons. Hudson has struggled with injuries, which has kept him on the DL multiple times. Bartlett took some time to settle in, but has found a niche in the lineup, a place where he can perform at a good level.
While Ryan Ludwick and Will Venable continue to improve their play, Chase Headley along with Anthony Rizzo have led the offense for the Padres. Headley is now hitting over .300, and Rizzo continues to drive in runs for the ballclub. If these two can continue a strong showing in 2011, the Padres can continue to climb up the NL West ladder.
Currently. the Padres find themselves in fourth place, eight games back of the division-leading Giants. Still, the Padres have made up some ground. Only the Padres and Diamondbacks have a winning streak in the West. The Dodgers have dropped four straight, the Rockies three, and the Giants a pair of games.
The first half Report Card grade for the Padres: C-
In order to (I may sound crazy saying this) make a run at first place in the West, the Padres must continue to hit as they have in June and July. The teams has made a complete turnaround. When the team hits well, the pitching improves as well. Run support is the most important for Padre hitters.
If the Pads can plate four or five runs a game, the starter can afford to give up about three runs. However, if the Padres fail to create run support, a three-run outing looks terrible to the fans. The difference is night and day; the Padres must plate runners. How they do so does not matter.
I still believe the Padres have a small shot at giving the top two teams a run for their money. However, let me make this clear; the Padres will not win the Wild Card, due to the NL Central.
I believe San Diego finishes in second place in the NL West, seven games back, and fail to make the postseason.