Will Venable had a breakout year in 2013 with 22 home runs, 53 RBIs, and a .484 slugging percentage. All career highs in his sixth season with the Padres. Venable says he is hitting with much better rhythm, and his power numbers prove he has made substantial gains in his development as a hitter. Venable’s .268 batting average was slightly better than a season ago, and he maintained his speed on the base path with 22 stolen bases (his fourth consecutive season with 20+ SBs). The Princeton University product consistently brings a hustling-mentality to the ballpark, as he is always seen running out groundballs and his jersey is rarely free of dirt stains. His defense is above average, and his over the shoulder diving catch against the Giants on June 17th is one of the best plays by an outfielder all year.
The Padres signed Venable to a two-year $8.5 million contract extension in early September after setting a scorching pace since the All-Star Break. In August, Venable hit .367 with 8 home runs, 15 RBIs and a .697 slugging percentage. Venable cooled off considerably in September, and will need to have a better finish to the season in 2014. Venable’s contract gives him a healthy balance of job security and room for improvement. The Padres organization understands Venable provided the team with a good level of production, and he should be rewarded with a two-year deal that raises his annual salary by about $1.6 million. However, the team also knows Venable can improve his batting average, strikeout less, score more runs, and become a consistent force throughout the season before he receives a more lucrative deal.
Venable’s 2013 season showed a rare combination of speed, power, and hustle that we hope to see continue in 2014 and beyond. If number 25 can remain consistent throughout the season expect to see another improvement in his game, and possibly the first 30 HR 30 SB player in San Diego history.
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