Last year, Will Venable hit .256/.323/.440 with 12 homers in 95 games.
He appeared to be more of a gap power guy with possible 20-HR power (in the Andre Ethier mold) than a real power threat.
Early this season, however, Venable is off to a huge start; he’s already clubbed three homers and is slugging over .600.
However, he’s traded his plate discipline for the power, as he only has one walk all year and a sub-.300 OBP.
I appreciate the power (the guy’s on my fantasy team, and who doesn’t love three homers and a .600+ SLG?), but it’s a small sample, and it’s doubtful that Venable is going to slug over .500, let alone .600, for the season.
That means that he’s going to need to get his walk rate at least back to its modest 2009 levels (7.7%) to get his OBP in the average range. If he can, he could hit .270/.330/.490 with plus defense in right, which would be valuable.
But the difference between .270/.300/.490 and .270/.330/.490 is huge. Right now, Venable has a walk rate around three percent, which means he’ll need to hit nearly .300 to be a solid regular, even with this level of power and his usual above-average defense.
Then again, it’s just 35 plate appearances, and Venable and everyone else is just getting into the groove of the season, so there’s no reason to be proclaiming final judgment on any of his 2010 skills just yet. Right now, it’s all about just trying to get a jump on where each player stands and if any of their core skills look to be dramatically different.
Venable’s power may well be way up. If he and Kyle Blanks can at least repeat their 2009 discipline numbers (Blanks isn’t either), the Padres lineup might not miss Adrian Gonzalez as much as it would otherwise. But the discipline numbers from both corner outfielders need to quickly improve for them to even be solid starters.