A quick show of hands: Who envisioned the Padres, a team that lost 99 games in 2008, winning 90 games and coming within a game of making the postseason in 2010?
The Padres, to be sure, were among the biggest surprises in the Major Leagues. With a roster blended with veterans and youth, the team led the National League West virtually the entire regular season before fading late, ultimately doomed by a 10-game losing skid that spanned late August and early September.
Fueled by one of the best pitching staffs in the game, the Padres got 14 victories from Jon Garland, a breakout season by 22-year-old Mat Latos, who won 14 games and had a 2.92 ERA, San Diego quickly jumped to the top of the division. The bullpen was a key component to their success, as closer Heath Bell made his second All-Star team and saved 47 games.
Offensively, the Padres got another big season from All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who hit .298 with 31 home runs and 101 RBIs, all while nursing a shoulder injury for the final four months of the season.
The Padres may have taken a step back in 2011, but the emergence of newcomers Jesus Guzman, Cameron Maybin and rookie pitcher Cory Luebke - along with a rebuilt farm system - showed that there could be good days ahead for the team in 2012.
The Padres finished 71-91 and in fifth place in the National League West as they could not overcome a slow start or by injuries to key players, like catcher Nick Hundley, third baseman Chase Headley and second baseman Orlando Hudson.
There were several notable performances, though.
Maybin showed he could play Gold Glove caliber defense in center field. He also hit nine home runs and stole 40 bases in 2011.
Guzman, who played first base and the outfield, drove in 44 runs in 76 games after a mid-season promotion from Triple-A Tucson.
Luebke, in his first full Major League season, provided quality innings first out of the bullpen and then as part of the starting rotation. He finished the season 6-10 and had a 3.29 ERA.
Aaron Harang, in his return to his native San Diego, led the team with 14 victories while missing a month of time with a foot injury. Closer Heath Bell saved 43 games and earned a spot on his third consecutive NL All-Star team.
After the season, general manager Jed Hoyer was hired by the Cubs for the same post and Josh Byrnes was promoted to general manager. Byrnes had previously been GM of the D-backs before he was dismissed in 2010.
The Padres finished the season with a 76-86 record and were hurt early by a slew of injuries to many key contributors. That said, the team played better in the second half with an improved offense that was the best manager Bud Black presided over in his six seasons with the team.
The Padres ending the year with a 49-37 record (.570 winning percentage) over their final 86 games after getting some key players back from the disabled list, like outfielder Carlos Quentin.
Closer Huston Street was the team's lone All-Star Game representative. He saved 23 games but missed time with two disabled list stints.
Third baseman Chase Headley had a career season offensively, leading the NL in RBIs (115) while winning his first Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards.
Pitcher Clayton Richard made 33 starts and finished with a team-best 14 victories and a 3.99 ERA. Keeping starting pitchers healthy wasn't easy, as the Padres used 15 different starting pitchers during the season. Only Richard and Edinson Volquez (32 starts) made more than 16 starts in 2012.
Much like 2012, the Padres finished with a 76-86 mark. And much like the previous season, a slow start, coupled by several notable injuries, contributed to a rough beginning to the season (5-15 in their first 20 games).
The team played better thereafter, inching to 36-34 before a 10-game losing streak saw them tumble well out of contention in the National League West - just as their rivals, the Dodgers, took off and won the division going away.
Rookie second baseman Jedd Gyorko, despite missing 30 games with a groin strain, had a big year at the plate. He led the team in home runs (23) and RBIs (63) and impressed with his play defensively.
Right fielder Will Venable had a breakout season, hitting a career-high 22 home runs to go with 53 RBIs and 22 stolen bases.
Chase Headley, who led the NL in RBIs in 2012, struggled most of the season but finished strong, hitting .305 with five home runs in September.
On the pitching side, closer Huston Street saved 33 of 35 games. Veteran left-hander Eric Stults led the team in victories (11) and Andrew Cashner (3.09) and Tyson Ross (3.17) displayed dominant stuff in the second half, cementing spots in the rotation for 2014 and beyond.
Another pitcher, Ian Kennedy, who was obtained from the D-backs on July 31, will be a part of the rotation as well. He went 4-2 in 10 starts with the team after the trade.
The Padres won 77 games under manager Bud Black, their most victories since 2010 (90 wins). They did so on the strength of a solid pitching staff, both starters and relievers. And they did it with a team that hardly resembled the one they took to Spring Training in February.
Not only did the Padres trade third baseman Chase Headley and All-Star closer Huston Street before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but they dismissed general manager Josh Byrnes, hiring first-year GM A.J. Preller from the Rangers in August.
In terms of that pitching, Tyson Ross had a breakout season, winning 13 games and making his first All-Star team. Ian Kennedy surpassed the 200-inning mark and 200-strikeout mark. Rookies Odrisamer Despaigne and Jesse Hahn showed plenty of promise as well.
Offense was a struggle, as the Padres were shut out 19 times. Injuries and underperformance doomed the offense as several players missed time with injuries. Catcher Rene Rivera had a career year offensively and threw out the most would-be basestealers (29) in baseball. Newcomer Seth Smith had a strong first half. Gyorko's 51 RBIs led the team.
A season brimming with high expectations, fueled by several notable acquisitions by first-year general manager A.J. Preller, never got off the ground as the Padres won 74 games and missed the postseason for the ninth consecutive season.
After a slow start, the Padres dismissed manager Bud Black, who was in his ninth season, in June. Interim manager Pat Murphy didn't fare better, as the team was 42-54 under his watch, losing 21 of its final 31 games.
Justin Upton, one of Preller's key acquisitions, led the team with 26 home runs. Matt Kemp, acquired from the Dodgers, knocked in 100 runs but had one home run in the first two months of the season. Kemp did hit for the cycle against the Rockies in August, becoming the first player in club history to do so.
Another newcomer, catcher Derek Norris, quieted critics of his defense, as he led all of baseball in 38 CCS (catcher caught stealing). He also improved his framing behind the plate as well.
On the pitching side, James Shields had a 3.91 ERA and led the team with his 202 1/3 innings. Teammate Tyson Ross had another big season, striking out 212 over 196 innings while posting a 3.26 ERA.
In October, the Padres hired Andy Green as their new manager. Green spent the 2015 season as the D-backs' third base coach.
The Padres' 2016 season will be remembered for its midseason youth movement. San Diego traded six veterans from its Opening Day roster -- Matt Kemp, Melvin Upton Jr., James Shilelds, Andrew Cashner, Drew Pomeranz and Fernando Rodney -- for an assortment of top prospects. In doing so, the Padres cleared the way for rookies like Ryan Schimpf, Travis Jankowski and Luis Perdomo to take center stage. After a rough start, the Friars were essentially eliminated from contention by early June. That's when the first trade domino fell, in the form of Shields.
The youth movement quickly paid dividends, as the Padres posted a streak of 25 consecutive games with a home run in July -- tying a National League record. During the run, they were led largely by rookies Schimpf and Alex Dickerson. Meanwhile, 2016 also saw Wil Myers' first fully healthy big league season, and the outfielder-turned-first-baseman made it count. Myers took home the National League Player of the Month Award in June, when he batted .327/.529/.765 with a franchise record 11 June homers. A month later, Myers would represent the hometown Padres by starting in the All-Star Game. After falling in the first-round of the Home Run Derby, Myers went 1-for-3 with a double in the Midsummer Classic, and he received a raucous ovation from the San Diego faithful. Pomeranz also starred for the Padres in Petco Park's first All-Star Game -- but he was traded two days later.
Midway through September, general manager A.J. Preller was suspended for 30 days for undisclosed medical information in the trade that sent Pomeranz to the Red Sox. With a young roster, the Padres slumped to a last-place finish under first-year skipper Andy Green. On Sept. 17, the club was struck by tragedy with the passing of Yuliett Solarte, the wife of third baseman Yangervis Solarte. In an emotional moment the following day, backup infielder Adam Rosales -- who took Solarte's place in the starting lineup -- homered against the Rockies. He then executed an overhand clap while skipping onto home plate -- Solarte's trademarked home-run celebration. Solarte would return before the end of the season and cap a 14-game hitting streak, the longest by a Padre all year.
The Padres' 2017 season centered around youth, with four players in the Opening Day lineup having made their first Opening Day roster. The inexperienced Padres struggled early in the season, en route to a 15-30 start, before coming on strong in the middle of the season. Ultimately, San Diego faded down the stretch and finished the campaign with a 71-91 mark, an improvement of three victories over their '16 campaign.
With the youngest offense in baseball, the Padres received impressive performances from rookies Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe. Margot, who finished sixth in National League Rookie of the Year voting, batted .263/.313/.409, while shining defensively in center field. Renfroe, meanwhile, set the franchise's rookie home-run record with 25 dingers. He equaled the mark with a three-homer game against Arizona on Sept. 20, the club's first in 16 years.
On the mound, left-hander Brad Hand established himself as one of the best relievers in the game. Trade rumors swirled around the southpaw, but Hand remained in San Diego through the Trade Deadline, finishing the season with a 2.16 ERA and 104 strikeouts in just 79 1/3 innings. Meanwhile, rookie Dinelson Lamet burst onto the scene in the second half after some early struggles. His 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings set a record for Padres pitchers with at least 100 innings. Veterans Clayton Richard and Jhoulys Chacin anchored the rotation.
First baseman Wil Myers authored the most impressive single-game performance of the 2017 season, hitting for the cycle on April 10 at Coors Field. With an eighth-inning triple, Myers became the second Padre in history accomplish the feat.
On the same day the Padres' full squad reported to Spring Training, the club made a major splash, introducing first baseman Eric Hosmer with the biggest contract in franchise history (an eight-year deal worth $144 million). But the Padres, like their new first baseman, underwhelmed in 2018, finishing 66-96 and last place in the National League West. Hosmer slumped to a .252/.322/.398 slash line, and Wil Myers, meant to anchor the lineup alongside Hosmer, spent half the season on the DL with various injuries.
Still, in some respects, it was an important season of progress. By nearly every major publication, the Padres' farm system was ranked as the best in baseball at the start of the year. Then, 17 different rookies made their big league debuts for the club in 2018. Among the notable callups were catcher Francisco Mejia, outfielder Franmil Reyes, second baseman Luis Urias and pitchers Eric Lauer, Joey Lucchesi and Jacob Nix.
After a slow start to the season, the Padres rallied to within four games of .500 in mid-June. But things spiraled over the next month, forcing them to sell at the Trade Deadline. Lefty Brad Hand and righty Adam Cimber went to Cleveland in exchange for Mejia. Starters Tyson Ross and Jordan Lyles were moved in August. Those deals paved the way for the youngsters to take center stage, and they seized the opportunity. Mejia homered twice in his first Padres start in September, then he swatted a walk-off grand slam 10 days later. Reyes finished with 10 second-half homers and a .920 OPS after the break. By season's end, there was a palpable sense of optimism for a bright future in San Diego.