Padres’ 2024 All-Star showing bodes well for the rest of season with one caveat

When the 2024 season started, expectations for the San Diego Padres were understandably lower than in previous years. Yes, they went out and traded for Dylan Cease which helped, but the fact remained that the Padres had lost Juan Soto, Blake Snell, Josh Hader, and a host of other players last offseason as they scaled back their payroll and regrouped after the 2023 dumpster fire season.

Against all odds, the Padres have instead found a way to thrive this season. Thanks to key contributions from some unexpected sources as well as the timely trade for Luis Arraez, San Diego finds themselves nicely positioned in the NL wild card race and within sight of the division-leading Dodgers.

Their results have shown in more than just the wins column as San Diego has five All-Stars in 2024 with Jurickson Profar, Jackson Merrill, Fernando Tatis Jr., Luis Arraez, and Robert Suarez all receiving the honor. Having that level of talent on one roster bodes well for the Padres’ chances, but exactly when one of those stars, Fernando Tatis Jr., returns will determine if they can actually take advantage of all this talent.

It is honestly remarkable that the Padres have gotten to where they are this season. Jackson Merrill started 2024 as one of the league’s best infield prospects and is now an All-Star outfielder. Jurickson Profar came back to the Padres on a one-year deal that many thought was a nice, but minor signing, and he has been one of the better hitters in baseball this season. In the grand scheme of things, San Diego has been very lucky even with injuries to guys like Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove.

However, their season still depends on how long Fernando Tatis Jr. is going to be out. While the Padres are going to be able to be a pretty good team without him on the field assuming that they can get Darvish and Musgrove back relatively soon, there just is no replacing a guy like Tatis Jr. who is one of the best outfield defenders in baseball and can play at an MVP level when he is right.

Projecting when he could return is tricky. Stress reactions in femurs just don’t really happen to baseball players, meaning there’s a lot of uncertainty. If he can come back by the end of July, the Padres will be in great shape. If it takes much longer than that, they could find themselves in a dogfight at the end of the season for a playoff spot.

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