Padres Report Cards: Cory Spangenberg

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Previous report cards on Derek Norris (link), Austin Hedges (link), Yonder Alonso (link), and Jedd Gyorko (link)

Entering the season, Cory Spangenberg had had only a cup of coffee in the Major Leagues. But his performance was good enough to have some (including me) arguing that Spangenberg should be a starter. It took a Jedd Gyorko slump for the rookie to get an opportunity to play everyday at second base; and he won it. 

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After a poor showing in April and a lukewarm batting line in May, Spangenberg took off in June hitting .300/.338/.386. In the wake of a continually struggling Gyorko, it was looking like the Padres had found a middle infielder who could hit his weight. But after a game against the Diamondbacks, he was put on the disabled list with an injured knee.

He was out until mid-August.

Upon returning the 24 year-old not only kept pace with his batting in June but bettered it in each of the season’s final two months. Spangenberg’s slashline was .294/.373/.460/.834 in his 41 games after coming off the disabled list. The .373 on-base is the equivalent of hitting .300. And a .460 slugging for a light-hitting second baseman is surprisingly high.

In Spangenberg’s 108 games this year, he hit .271/.333/.399/.733 with a 106 OPS+. But considering where he started and how he finished, those numbers appear even better. Only Yonder Alonso and Justin Upton had higher on-base percentages than the Padre rookie.

Despite being one of the faster Padres, Spangenberg stole only 9 bases in 13 attempts. He created 2 runs through base running, according to BaseballProjection. For some context, the MLB leader, Billy Hamilton, had 11 and Dee Gordon, who stole 58 bases created 2 as well. So, above average, but lackluster.

In the field Spangenberg was actually a little disappointing. At second, where he played 70 of his games, his range was statistically below average: 4.21 range factor per 9 with the league posting a 4.78 mark. Unlike Gyorko, this was not compensated for by making all the plays that came his way as his fielding percentage was right with the league average. However, Spangenberg was not a total liability. Ultimately, BaseballProjection estimated he only cost the Padres 4 runs all year whereas Baseball Info Solutions projected he neither saved nor cost the Padres runs. The conclusion: he’s ever so slightly below average; look for him to improve and become the good defensive player he was said to become while still a prospect. He’s simply too fast not to be better than an average second baseman in terms of range.

All of the same essentially applies for his 19 games at third.

Considering Spangenberg’s continuing improvement over the season, there should be quite a bit of hope for his 2016 performance. He has a compact swing that is not prone to having holes. Spangenberg will never have great power, but the native of Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania should be penciled in as a good on-base hitter. While Spangenberg has more power against right-handed pitching, he has a higher on-base percentage against lefties, meaning platooning won’t be necessary.

There is room for improvement on the bases and in the field. But his talent should allow for swift progression.

Despite being very poor out of the lead-off spot, Spangenberg has been excellent out of the two-hole, hitting for a .383 on-base percentage. Granted, he has also been productive hitting sixth, seventh, and eighth. But considering how right-handed heavy the Padres are now and the fact that there are few other players on the roster for 2016 who even have the prospect of hitting for a higher on-base than Spangenberg, there is no doubt where his place on the lineup card should be.

Durability: B-

On-Base: B

Power: C

Running: C+

Fielding: C

Throwing: C

Total Defense: C

Total Offense: B- (bump for that second half)

2015 Season: C+

Hope for 2016: B+

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