The San Diego Padres Are More Interesting Than You'd Think
Look, we all know the San Diego Padres aren't competing for a wild card spot in 2017. That ain't what this is all about.
Like a number of other National League franchises, San Diego is in full-on rebuild mode, and this coming season will be about the kids. Which ones have a future? Which ones don't? Which ones are useful bench pieces? Are there any stars?
If you're not a devoted fan of the Friars, you might take a gander at their MLB.com depth chart and think to yourself...
Of course, San Diego was not without their moments last year. From June 28 to July 27, the team hit at least one home run in 25 straight games, equaling a National League record. And even though this roster doesn't have much star power, there are some intriguing pieces that could make going to baseball games in San Diego a pretty enjoyable experience.
If you can get past the starting rotation. Egads.
Wil Myers is the name everyone is going to know. The 25-year-old first baseman made his first All-Star team last year after a first half in which he put up a wRC+ of 134 (league average is 100) and a slash line of .286/.351/.522. He tailed off pretty badly in the second half, though, with a wRC+ of 91 and a slash line of .223/.316/.381.
It's hard to know if Myers is the real deal or if he had a fortunate first few months.
Ryan Schimpf is perhaps the most fascinating player on the roster. He was a 28-year-old rookie in 2016 and hit .217/.336/.533 in 330 plate appearances, with 20 homers in half a season and a wRC+ of 129. Not too shabby.
Ryan Schimpf was a 28-year-old rookie who had a 71.8% fly-ball rate from August 1st on. They're such a weird, beautiful, confusing team. https://t.co/hUb5HomByn
— Jim Sannes (@JimSannes) December 29, 2016
Third baseman Yangervis Solarte, now 29, isn't a star, but he did post an fWAR of 2.8 in 2016 by hitting 15 home runs in 443 plate appearances, while slashing .286/.341/.467 with a wRC+ of 118. He's joined on the left-side of the diamond by underwhelming shortstop Luis Sardinas, who had an fWAR of -0.2 in 66 games.
The youth movement in San Diego continues with Alex Dickerson in left field, who put up a wRC+ of 112 with 10 dingers in 285 plate appearances and hit one of the most impressive home runs of the season back in July.
Renfroe played in just 11 games with the big league club, but mashed in Triple-A, hitting .306/.336/.557 with a 131 wRC+, 30 homers and 105 RBI. He's just 24 years old and will be high up on a lot of NL Rookie of the Year lists heading into 2017, although his 3.9% walk rate in the minors last year is a major source of concern.
In center field is 25-year-old Travis Jankowski, who put up a 2.1 fWAR in 383 plate appearances as a rookie. Unlike his corner outfield mates, he doesn't have much power, with an isolated power (ISO) of .069, but he stole 30 bases and had an 11.0% walk rate while hitting .245/.332/.313. His wRC+ of 82 was below league average, but he's strong with the glove.
And that doesn't include the team's top prospect, Manuel Margot, acquired from the Boston Red Sox in the Craig Kimbrel deal last winter. Margot is MLB ready after hitting .304/.351/.426 with 30 stolen bases in 566 plate appearances for the Padres' Triple-A affiliate.
He hasn't done much in his 64 career MLB games, but the team's 24-year-old catcher, Austin Hedges, had a solid season in Triple-A where he posted a .326/.353/.597 line with 21 homers and 82 RBI in only 334 plate appearances. However, like Renfroe, his walk rate (3.9%) leaves a lot to be desired and could result in some growing pains.
Needless to say, given the potential power output of the Padres lineup and the suspect starting, Petco Park could see more offense in 2017 then it has in its entire history.
The Padres have elevated their top minor league guys to the big leagues and are going to play them a lot this year. Many of them showed some serious pop last season, either with the big club or in the minors, and while the pitching staff could be a disaster, the young position players could make 2017 far more interesting than one would initially think.