Do any of you remember the hit television show, that turned into a board game, a computer game, and a video game called “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?” Well I am not going to talk about that television series, but I am going to talk about something in San Diego other than the Chargers and the world-renowned San Diego Zoo.
For those of you who are unaware, the team that currently has the best record in the entire National League is the San Diego Padres. Yes, the team out of San Diego. And if you are not a Padres fan, it is very unlikely that you can name more than 3 players on this team. This team is not exactly lighting up the scorecard. They are not in a huge market. They are on the West Coast so many of their games go into the wee hours of the night for the East Coasters. People like to watch the teams that put runs on the board. Teams that hit the long ball. Teams that provide shootout type contests on a nightly basis. Well the Padres fit into none of those categories. But they do one thing that people really like. They keep winning.
Everyone has been waiting for this team to collapse. I am included in this group. And they still have not shown any signs of letting up. They only have one offensive force on the entire team. And that is Adrian Gonzalez. He is leading the team in batting average, HRs, RBIs, OBP, and hits. He is the team offensively. And sadly, Gonzalez, though he is having a wonderful year, is not even batting over 300. So this Padres team as you could guess from those stats, rank near the bottom of baseball in nearly every offensive category. But pitching is another story. And the age-old saying has always been, “Pitching wins championships.” Just ask the Braves of the 1990s how much pitching helped.
The Padres are currently 1st in baseball in ERA, 2nd in Strikeouts, and 4th in Saves. My question for you is can you name one pitcher on the staff? I bet you have not heard of their ace, a 22-year-old from Virginia named Mat Latos. He was called up in the middle of last season and has really turned it on this year. He leads the team in ERA (2.45), wins, and strikeouts. The “kid” has been doing it all. The other members of the staff are Clayton Richard, Wade LeBlanc, Jon Garland, and Kevin Correia. Garland and Correia are the old men of the bunch sitting at the ripe ages of 30 and 29. The other 3 guys are all under the age of 26. In addition to solid starting pitching, the Padres bullpen has been outstanding led by the closer Heath Bell. Guys like Joe Thatcher, Mike Adams, and Luke Gregerson have been simply outstanding. And I will admit that I am not all that familiar with any of these pitchers other than Heath Bell.
It is simply an amazing story as the team continues to march on towards an improbable NL West Title. They say baseball has a team every year that nobody foresees contending. Well the Padres seem to be that team this year.
You may have an easier time finding Carmen San Diego than figuring out who is on this Padres team and how they have the best record in the National League. And believe me, they are just fine with that.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.