Morning Coffee with Mark Whelan: What If The Padres’ Regulars Don’t Hit?
The Padres’ Everth Cabrera, Yonder Alonso, and Jedd Gyorko all returned from the DL this week. That’s great news, right?
Hopefully that’s great news. Cabrera is the Padres’ table-setter who stole 81 bases over the last two years. Alonso was a .280 career hitter coming into this year. Gyorko led the Padres in HRs last year with 23. They’re important pieces of the offense.
Of course, that’s not what they were doing this year.
Cabrera, whose success rests largely in his ability to get on base, has a league-worst .256 on-base percentage among qualified hitters. It’s important to add “among qualified hitters,” to that last sentence, because both Alonso (.255) and Gyorko (.216) were actually worse then Cabrera. They just don’t have enough plate appearances to be qualified.
But that was before the injuries. We’re all hoping that somehow, the few weeks off got all three hitters out of their collective funk, and will all start to hit more like the guys we remember from the last couple of years.
Because the players who filled in for them have performed better than they have.
Tommy Medica is driving in a run every 8.4 ABs, better than Alonso’s rate of one every 10.8 ABs. Medica and Jake Goebbert are both hitting .250 – higher than Alonso’s .216. Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera both saw some time at first base, too, and they’re second and third on the team in RBI. And Bud Black keeps looking for ways to keep them in the lineup.
Alexi Amarista is hitting .272 with three steals and 9 runs scored in July, and has a higher OBP than Cabrera. He’s also got a higher fielding percentage and better range factor this year than Cabrera. And he’s more popular with the fans.
Yangervis Solarte is hitting .280 and driving in nearly a run a game at second base. Chris Nelson hit .250 in limited time there. Gyorko did manage to hit better than Jace Peterson and Brooks Conrad though.
The Padres’ regulars have got their work cut out for them. Because there are plenty of guys ready to step in if Cabrera, Alonso, and Gyorko don’t find their stroke, and find it soon.