The San Diego Padres ended last season tied with the Braves and Reds for the worst record in the NL at 68-94. Heading into this season, several projection sites have the Padres as the worst team in baseball. I ranked them last in my pre-preseason power rankings. So the expectation is that they’ll be a bad team. 

Of course, I love San Diego. It’s one of America’s best and most aesthetically-pleasing cities. Not to mention, I’m generally a very positive person. So why would I want to talk about how much the Padres are going to suck for 1,000 words? 

Instead, I’m going to run down some of the reasons Padres fans should be interested in this team -- aside from the obvious “Petco Park is awesome and your city is gorgeous.” 

The vitals

Myers and Renfroe lead the youth charge

Wil Myers -- thanks in part to some advice from James Shields -- is fresh off his first full season and it could be considered a breakout campaign. With 28 home runs, 94 RBI and 28 doubles, it’s safe to say that Myers is the face of the Padres. Perhaps a 30-30 season is coming next. Regardless, he’s the anchor of the offense and an exciting all-around player. 

Myers is San Diego’s face of the Padres right now. USATSI

Maybe Myers is joined this season in stardom by Hunter Renfroe, who will be a fine prediction for NL Rookie of the Year. The Padres’ 2013 first-round pick (13th overall) out of Mississippi State got a cup of coffee last season and excelled, hitting .371/.389/.800 with three doubles and four home runs in 36 plate appearances. In 133 Triple-A games, he hit .306/.336/.557 with 34 doubles, five triples, 30 home runs and 105 RBI. 

If things break right with these two, it gives the Padres a very good 3-4 punch in the lineup for years to come.

Myers is 26 and Renfroe is 25, but they are far from alone in a youth movement in San Diego.

Catcher Austin Hedges was considered a top-100 prospect for a few years, and he’ll get a shot at the everyday job. He hit .326/.353/.597 in Triple-A last season. 

In 120 plate appearances last season, shortstop Luis Sardinas -- who is only 23 -- hit .287 with a .353 on-base percentage. He’s also a former top-100 prospect, so there’s potential with him as well. 

Outfielders Travis Jankowski (25) and Manuel Margot (22) also qualify as young players who could be very exciting this season. If all six of the players in this section see some positive development, Padres fans will at least see some glimpse of a promising future for the offense. 

The perfect place to get a speed fix

Stealing bases is fun, right? The Padres stole 125 bases last season, good for fifth in the majors. They look to be in line for more this time around. 

Jankowski got only 383 plate appearances last season but stole 30 bases. Myers can surely go for 20-plus again. Margot once stole 42 bases in a year in the minors and swiped 30 in Triple-A last season. Sardinas once had consecutive 32-steal seasons in the minors. 

Travis Jankowski stole 30 bases last year.  USATSI

Certainly for some, base-stealing chops in the minors don’t translate to the majors, but there’s some serious speed on this ball club. 

Further, speed doesn’t only play in baseball when it comes to stolen bases. It’ll help the range on defense, too, notably in the outfield with Renfroe and Margot flanking Jankowski. The Padres were league average in defensive efficiency (the number of balls in play converted into outs) last season, and there’s a decent chance they get better there this time around. 

Piggybacking in the rotation?

Throughout baseball history, there’s always been a penalty for pitchers the more times they go through the order. It’s no secret that as the pitcher goes deeper into the game, the opposition becomes more familiar with his stuff as he’s also tiring. Last season, NL pitchers allowed a .709 OPS the first time through, a .757 OPS the second time and a .784 OPS the third time. The latter is a better OPS than Marcell Ozuna and Matt Holliday had, while it’s close to that of Buster Posey and Wil Myers. 

Needless to say, going to a reliever instead of sticking with a non-frontline starter the third time through the order is beneficial. We’ve seen a lot more of it in the playoffs, with good reason. 

The Padres appear set to tinker with this during the regular season. An article on the team’s website mentioned Christian Friedrich and Paul Clemens as examples of those capable of of “piggybacking,” which would be having two pitchers combine for six or seven innings, with the starter being removed after, say, the fourth inning. 

In looking at the possible rotation, the Padres could really use it, too. Guys like Clayton Richard and Trevor Cahill are much better suited in smaller doses than trying to make them get through six innings on a nightly basis. Jarred Cosart and Luis Perdomo could fit right in this mix. 

If you can start getting something like Cahill for four, Richard for three and then turn it over to the late-inning guys on a semi-regular basis, this can cover up a lack of top-shelf pitching talent. 

If nothing else, a season without expectations is the perfect time to try it. 

One exciting possibility at closer

Carter Capps can throw 100 miles per hour and has a unique delivery that is pretty fun to watch (more on that here). He’s coming off Tommy John surgery, but if he rounds back into form, the Padres will have an outstanding closer. In 2015, he threw only 31 innings, but he struck out 58 while boasting a 1.16 ERA and 0.81 WHIP. 

Carter Capps brings over an unorthodox delivery and elite stuff. USATSI

So there you go, San Diegans (in my best Ron Burgundy voice): Get excited! 

Probable lineup

  1. Travis Jankowski, LF
  2. Manuel Margot, CF
  3. Wil Myers, 1B
  4. Yangervis Solarte, 3B
  5. Hunter Renfroe, RF
  6. Ryan Schimpf, 2B
  7. Austin Hedges, C
  8. Luis Sardinas, SS

Bench: C/OF Christian Bethancourt, C Luis Torrens, IF Erick Aybar, UTIL Cory Spangenberg, OF Alex Dickerson

Probable rotation

  1. Jhoulys Chacin (R)
  2. Jered Weaver (R)
  3. Clayton Richard (L)
  4. Trevor Cahill (R)
  5. Christian Friedrich (L)

ALT: RHP Jarred Cosart and all the other potential piggybackers

Probable bullpen

Incumbent closer Brandon Maurer likely opens the season in the same role, but he should eventually be handing the keys to the dynamic arm of Capps. A pair of lefties in Ryan Butcher and Brad Hand join those two in late-innings roles along with righty Kevin Quackenbush. Some of the long relief types will come from the pool of potential starting pitchers. See the “piggybacking” section for more. 

SportsLine projection: 72-90, fourth place in the NL West