There is something about baseball that keeps bringing you back. The instant entertainment of bone-crushing hits in football and high flying dunks in basketball leave the crowd in complete fascination, but baseball has an aura stemming from the unending stream of summer nights on a perfectly manicured diamond.
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The hope your team will make it all the way builds throughout the entire offseason with surges of excitement as each deal is made. Padres General Manager AJ Preller has done his job signing big bats and keeping the pitching staff intact, so there is reason to have the postseason on one’s mind.
We could talk all day about what stars like Matt Kemp and Justin Upton are going to do in the lineup. All I ask is they stay healthy and help the Padres become an above average offense. What I really want to talk about is what a resurgent Will Venable and Jedd Gyorko would mean for the Padres.
In 2013, Venable hit 22 home runs and Gyorko hit 23 home runs. In 2014, Venable hit 8 home runs and Gyorko hit 10. The decrease of 27 home runs will easily be made up by Kemp and Upton who combined for 54 home runs a season ago. However, can you imagine a scenario where Venable and Gyorko regain their power at the plate?
Gyorko will have ample opportunity to showoff his power. He is the Opening Day starter at second base, and should be healthy after a bout with plantar fasciitis last year. Venable on the other hand will have to work to be an Opening Day starter, but he should get his fair share of plate appearances because he is a left-handed bat and can be used as a good defensive replacement in the outfield.
The reason why I am hopeful Gyorko will regain his power is the protection offered by Matt Kemp and Justin Upton. The pitchers on opposing teams will have their focus on the new bats in the line-up and Gyorko will take advantage of being overlooked.
A different scenario may unfold for Venable. His ability to crack the starting lineup depends on how the other outfield acquisition, Wil Myers, plays during spring training. Thankfully, Myers is a right-handed bat so the Padres might resort to a platoon between Myers and Venable a la the Denorfia-Venable platoon that worked well in 2013. In the games where Venable begins on the bench, he will eventually come into the game to take on a right-handed reliever. Bottom line, Venable gets a chance to produce in 2015.
Kemp and Upton have the fan base excited, but Venable and Gyorko are the players who can tip the scales in favor of a playoff run.