- Dave Cameron, FanGraphs
On July 1, the San Diego Padres stood at 29-50, worse than every team in baseball other than the Chicago Cubs. They'd been outscored by 80 runs and simply looked like a team that was far from being competitive.
Since that day, however, the Padres have won 42 of 70, a .600 winning percentage that is tied for the fifth-best mark in baseball. The addition of top catching prospect Yasmani Grandal and a resurgent Cameron Maybin have the offense clicking, and their second-half success has people talking about the Padres as contenders in 2013.
Certainly the Padres do have several interesting young players, and their farm system was rated as the best in the game by Keith Law before the season started, so there are reasons for Friar-related optimism. However, before we get too carried away by their recent string of strong play, it would be helpful to know whether these kinds of second-half surges have actually carried over to the following season.
Over the past five years, I found eight examples of teams that posted losing records before July 1 who had a winning percentage at least 100 points higher in the final three months of the season than they did in the first three. While the Padres' midseason turnaround seems unexpected based on how they played in the first three months of the year, this phenomenon happens pretty much every season, and sometimes multiple teams pull off large second-half improvements in the same year.
So, how often did those gains carry over to the following season? Well, Padres fans, you might not want to read any farther or look at the chart to the right, because you're probably not going to like the answer.
Dave Cameron says a strong second half means little in assuring a team will be successful the next season.