The San Diego Padres are hanging on for dear life in the playoff race. With a 78-65 record, the Padres' lead for the third and final NL Wild Card berth over the Milwaukee Brewers is at a mere two games. The blockbuster addition of Juan Soto near the trade deadline was supposed to catapult the Padres into title contention, but Chicago White Sox legend Frank Thomas, in particular, is worried about how Soto hasn't hit the ground running in San Diego.
Speaking on Fox Sports' MLB Show, Thomas, who had a .301 lifetime batting average to go along with 501 career home runs, had this to say about Soto's struggles and what it means for the Padres' playoff push.
“I think the fans should be worried. I mean, Soto and Bell has not worked out. And Soto has not played like the young superstar that we've seen with the [Washington] Nationals. It's important for them to get it going if they're gonna make it to the playoffs,” the first ballot Hall-of-Famer said.
"I think [Padres] fans should be worried. Soto and Bell has not worked out, and Soto has not played like the young superstar that we've seen with the Nationals."@TheBigHurt_35 & @DTrainMLB are concerned about San Diego's playoff chances: pic.twitter.com/2oyP78yN47
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) September 15, 2022
While Juan Soto is still getting on base at an elite level (20.7% walk rate en route to a productive .382 on-base percentage in San Diego), his output while swinging the bat has been below par. He's only hit three HRs and has seven RBIs in 145 plate appearances as a member of the Padres, hitting only .212 with a disappointing .336 slugging percentage.
The ball just hasn't exploded off Soto's bat for the Padres, who needed him to replicate his level with the Nationals, especially after Fernando Tatis Jr.'s PED suspension. The Big Hurt noted that the Tatis drama took the wind out of the Padres' sails in recent weeks.
“Tatis' situation really took the air out of that locker room. And I don't know if they can recover. I really don't,” Thomas added. “I'm concerned with the Padres. It's gonna take one hell of a winning streak at the end of the season to get them into the playoffs.”
Juan Soto and the Padres look to turn it around in their next series against the Arizona Diamondbacks as they set out to increase their wild-card lead over the grinding Brewers.