I hate to beat a dead horse Friars fans, but from an Offensive standpoint, the Padres have been simply woeful as a whole over the season’s first month and a half. San Diego ranks 29th in Team Batting Average (.221), 29th in Runs Scored (109 in 35 Games or just over 3.1 RPG), and dead last in Slugging Percentage (.324). In spite of the Padres’ inability as a whole to get the job done at the plate, there have been some like Chris Denorfia doing their part in substitution roles, and Yonder Alonso beginning to scratch the surface of their awesome potential. In addition to Denorfia and Alonso, Jesus Guzman has been hitting consistently over the last couple of weeks, and appears to be finally getting things back on track.
As we all remember, Guzman was the Padres “diamond in the rough” surprise from a dismal 2011 season. His .312 Batting Average, coupled with his 5 Home Runs, 22 Doubles, and 44 RBI’s, likely earned Guzman a roster spot for this season, and with it came a good amount of expectations. After Carlos Quentin was injured in Spring Training, it was thought that Guzman would take his place in Left Field, and with a chance to produce and play on a consistent basis, Guzman would continue his hot streak from 2011 into 2012. Unfortunately, things did not seem to work out for Guzman during the season’s month of April.
After the Padres May 1st Win over Milwaukee, Guzman carried a stat line of a .206 Batting Average, a .250 On Base Percentage, and a measly .265 Slugging Percentage. It appeared that the gap-hitting and jack-of-all-trades in the field Guzman we knew from 2011 had trouble in his new starting role. To be fair however, almost all of San Diego’s hitters struggled through the first month, and it seemed like everybody not named Denorfia or Chase Headley was able to get good wood on the ball in the month of April. To his credit though, Guzman has been on a bit of a tear since the first of May, and appears to have put his sluggish start behind him.
Over his last 11 games (7 starts), Guzman has gone 12 for 26 (almost a .462 Batting Average) to improve his season total to .277. In addition, Guzman has hit 4 Doubles, knocked in 6 Runs, drawn 5 Walks, and raised his On Base and Slugging Percentages to .337 and .372 respectively. Granted, the 11 game sample size should not be taken as a be all and end all sign that Guzman will produce at that rate over the season. Nevertheless, Guzman now appears to have got himself on the right track, and is hitting on a more consistent basis than he did during the first month of the season.
In spite of Guzman’s recent hot streak, I am wondering what San Diego will do with him when Quentin finally arrives healthy and ready to play. Because Alonso is mashing the ball now and looking like the team’s best Offensive weapon, and Quentin (despite suffering a minor setback on his road to return according to Corey Brock of the team website) likely not being sat on the bench, Guzman will become blocked at both of his main positions in the field. Luckily in June, Interleague Play will start and Guzman will likely take over as the Designated Hitter. Yet even with some extra At-Bats at the DH, the Padres cannot afford to sit guys like Guzman for games at a time that can put the ball in play and put it where the fielders are not positioned on a consistent basis.
Whatever ends up happening, I hope that Guzman ends up staying here in San Diego and continues to finish this season strong. The more Guzman continues to produce, the more playing time he should ultimately earn. The Padres are going through a rebuilding process and will be looking for players in the present which will be worth keeping when the talent from the Minors arrives during the next few seasons. Having a guy like Guzman on their roster now and into the future is great for depth and Jesus’ versatility and consistent bat. Plus, any extra help is needed to raise the collective .221 Batting Average the team is hitting now.