Stop-and-go offense defines Padres' first half

Upton Jr. racks up highlights; Pomeranz anchors rotation

Stop-and-go offense defines Padres' first half

SAN DIEGO -- Five days in, the 2016 season was already a roller-coaster ride for the Padres. After being shut out in their opening series against the Dodgers, the Padres scored 29 runs over the next two games -- their highest total ever for a two-game stretch.

That roller-coaster ride continued through the entirety of the first half. And while the Padres have certainly put forth their share of highlights -- many of which have come courtesy of Melvin Upton Jr. -- the reality is that they sit well out of reach of the Giants (18 1/2 games) in the National League West.

General manager A.J. Preller has begun to acquire young talent for some of his veterans, flipping right-handers James Shields and Fernando Rodney in pre-break deals to contenders. In the meantime, the Padres are stocking their farm system with some premium talent.

Upton Jr. robs homer in the 2nd

Here's a look back at the first half of the Padres' 2016 season:

WHAT WENT RIGHT
It took some time, but the offense has developed into one of the top units in the NL over the past month and a half. San Diego finished third in the league in runs and batting average during June, largely the result of a resurgent Wil Myers and Matt Kemp (along with Yangervis Solarte's return from injury). Off the field, the Padres made a significant investment in amateur talent. They boasted six of the first 85 picks in June's Draft -- the most in the Majors -- and they also made a splash by signing seven of the top 30 international prospects.

WHAT WENT WRONG
Injuries ravaged the rotation from the get-go, as Opening Day starter Tyson Ross was placed on the disabled list after just one start. Four other members of the rotation spent time on the DL, (Robbie Erlin, Cesar Vargas, Erik Johnson and Andrew Cashner -- the only pitcher in the group who has since returned to full health). On top of that, the offense struggled mightily in April and May, and a beleaguered pitching staff simply couldn't withstand the lack of support. The Padres accrued a double-digit deficit in the West before the bats finally came alive.

WHAT WE LEARNED
When he's healthy, Myers is capable of doing some pretty incredible things. He could be a piece for Preller to build around in the future, as the GM continues to bolster the system ahead of the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline. In the meantime, youngsters Austin Hedges and Hunter Renfroe (the Padres' No. 3 prospect) are mashing at Triple-A and could warrant a big league callup soon.

FIRST-HALF TOP PLAYER: MYERS
After battling wrist injuries the past two seasons, Myers broke through this year. He made a slight tweak to his swing at the end of May and thrived as a result, taking home NL Player of the Month and setting a franchise record with 11 homers in June.

Myers' five-RBI game

FIRST-HALF TOP PITCHER: POMERANZ
Apparently, all he needed was a chance. The Rockies treated the big southpaw with kid gloves, and the A's viewed him as a reliever. The Padres, on the other hand, have allowed Pomeranz to flourish, giving him free rein to throw his filthy curveball as much as he'd like. Pomeranz's .184 batting average against leads the NL.

Pomeranz's dominant start

FIRST-HALF TOP ROOKIE: BUCHTER
The Nationals, Cubs, Braves and Dodgers all passed on Ryan Buchter, in large part because of his reliance on one pitch -- his fastball. But, as the Padres projected, Buchter's high-spin-rate heater has been devastating at the big league level, and he's striking out nearly 1.5 per inning as the club's setup man.

Buchter strikes out the side

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.