Neither player has won a starting job in the outfield outright. Neither player has performed up to expectations. Neither has shown they can perform consistently. However, going forward the Padres may have to make a choice. Do they keep Will Venable or do they keep Kyle Blanks?
In examining this question, it’s important to remember the expectations of both and their production to this point. Venable was drafted in the 7th round in 2005. The 7th round isn’t necessarily a life sentence to minor league play, but it’s certainly not a place someone wants to be drafted if they hope to make a quick splash in the league. Yet any player drafted in the 7th round can only be thankful they weren’t taken in the 42nd round. That was the case with Blanks in 2004 when he was drafted by the Padres with their first pick of the 42nd round. Based on draft position, there was more hope resting on Venable.
Since their draft days, both players have cracked the Major League lineup, but Venable has seen more action. He has played in 375 Major League games. And during that time, he has shown a split personality in the league. Venable originally showed signs of power, but he has since turned his game towards speed. In 2009, he hit 12 home runs in 95 games. In 2010, he hit 13 home runs in 131 games. But in 2011, he hit just 9. Venable stole one base in 2008 and six bases in 2009. Then in 2010, he broke out and stole 29, and in 2011 he stole 26.
Blanks is one of the largest baseball players I’ve ever seen, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to power. Blanks did flash some great SLG numbers in his first stint with the club hitting 10 home runs in 54 games to the tune of a .514 slugging percentage. Since then, though, he has battled injury and playing time. Blanks may very well be a power-hitting righty, but the lack of consistent time limits our analysis.
In the field, both Blanks and Venable have been assets. Blanks, in 3 seasons, has a DRS of 6. Venable on the other hand has a DRS of 27 in 4 seasons. Since Venable has seen more playing time, it’s important to compare him to Blanks on a per year average. Venable’s UZR/150 is 8.0. Blanks’ UZR/150 is 1.7.
Perhaps the biggest statistic of all is age. Venable is 29 and likely at his ceiling. Blanks is 25 with room to grow (offensively, not in size. God forbid he grows any larger). Age and projected years of production are important to any team, and Blanks’ youth may very well keep him in the organization.
If deciding which of the two to use, the decision is difficult. If we’re considering proven talent, you’d have to go with Venable. Yet, if we’re considering upside, you’d have to go with Blanks. Then again, neither one may pan out.