The San Diego Padres were finally eliminated from playoff contention on Friday night, the unofficial end to a season that was thoroughly disappointing but also downright confusing. They were a high-priced, star-laden team with grand expectations they did not come close to meeting -- but it was often difficult to understand why.
The Padres' four superstar position players -- Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., Juan Soto and Xander Bogaerts -- have played in 92% of their games, and yet their offense ranks 16th in slugging percentage. Their defense is the fourth-best in the majors, based on outs above average, and their starting pitchers boast the lowest ERA in the sport -- yet they were the last major league team to extend a winning streak beyond three games. They employ one of the game's best closers, Josh Hader, and yet they hold the seventh-worst record in one-run games since 1900. They got a breakout season from Ha-Seong Kim and a Cy Young-caliber season from Blake Snell, and yet they still didn't have enough, the embodiment of a team significantly lesser than the sum of its parts.
The Padres' plus-98 run-differential is the third-highest in the National League, yet their 80-80 record -- the product of a hot stretch over these last two weeks, which put them at .500 for the first time since May 11 but came way too late to vault them into the postseason -- ranks ninth.
One rival coach who has seen the Padres often this season pointed to a lack of cohesion as a reason they didn't win more consistently, calling them "a bunch of hired guns" who don't know how to play together, particularly on offense. Another rival coach, though, believes that wouldn't be talked about nearly enough had the Padres benefitted from a little better luck.
"You can simulate this season a hundred times," the latter coach said, "and you'd probably never get another result like this."
But it happened. Three numbers in particular help to explain.