Clayton Richard Has Been Much Better Than Advertised for the San Diego Padres

In a Padres season with more forgettable moments than memorable ones, Clayton Richards has provided a reason to smile.

There are only five teams with fewer wins than the San Diego Padres this season, which isn't surprising since they don't have a single player with an fWAR above 2.0.

Needless to say, there haven't been many things for Padres fans to smile about. However, pitcher Clayton Richard provided a reason to flash the pearly whites on Sunday afternoon.

Even though the home run was a wall-scraper that barely made it over the 335-foot sign in right field, it's difficult to watch Richard's grin and not smile yourself.

The soon-to-be 34-year-old had every reason to be thrilled. Not only was this his first tater of the season, but it also tied the game. Richard only has one other career home run, which occurred way back in 2012, making the moment all the more special.

Despite helping himself out with the bat, Richard ended up taking the loss after allowing three more runs -- two of which came on Giancarlo Stanton's 50th home run.

Following that performance, his current 4.96 ERA is 10th worst among qualified starting pitchers, but a deeper dive suggests he's been unlucky on the mound.

Better Than the Traditional Stats Say

Richard's elevated ERA is supported by a 3.80 xFIP, which ranks 21st among qualified starters. Coincidentally enough, what's really killed him this year has been the long ball.

Entering 2017, the southpaw's home-run-to-fly-ball ratio (HR/FB%) was just 11.6%, but it's currently at 20.6% this year (second highest among starters). If we look solely at his 6-13 record and an ERA that's nearing 5.00, we'd think that Richard has suffered through a horrendous year. But similar to his xFIP, there are other stats that help tell a different story for the left-hander.

Of the 20 qualified hurlers that have posted a walk percentage better than Richard's 6.6%, none have fewer wins. Additionally, Richard's BABIP allowed of .347 ranks second highest, again suggesting that luck has not been on his side since he's paired that with a 59.4% ground-ball rate. For reference, the league average BABIP is .297 and the average ground-ball rate is 44.0%.

Lackluster counting statistics have made this season not too memorable for Richard, but he's clearly been better than advertised. Besides his home run on Sunday, the peripheral stats he's produced while on the mound should also give him a reason to smile.