Travis Jankowski is really enjoying his extra playing time for the San Diego Padres the second half of 2016. He is sparking the team leading off, on the bases, and with his defense in center field. What will his future hold?
Coming into the season the Padres had a plethora of outfielders so Jankowski was kept as the 4th/5th outfielder. With the departure of Melvin Upton Jr. Matt Kemp, and Jon Jay injury, Jankowski is tearing up the bases and hitting much better to boot.
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In the first half of the year (up to the All Star break), Jankowski managed to score 22 runs in 101 AB’s, 26 hits and 14 stolen bases in 63 games played.
In the 32 games since, he has 21 runs in 112 AB’s, 30 hits and 12 stolen bases.
In other words, his production has remained largely the same but he has done it in HALF as many games.
Teammate Alex Dickerson, directly after the game he played hero with his 8th inning double, talked about the difference Travis makes in the Padres lineup: “He uses his speed in so many different ways. It has to be disruptive for a pitcher to have him on base or even in the batter’s box.”
Last night Jankowski had a career high 4 hits and has 6 multi-hit games in his last 16. He has a .523 OBP when leading off a game. Those are impressive numbers, but maybe not surprising considering over his minor league career he had a .293 batting average with a .360 on-base percentage to go with it.
When his college Stony Brook stormed into the College World Series in Omaha in 2012, they were led by Jankowski. He is making them proud and the Padres look smart for drafting him in the first round that year.
The Padres have several outfield prospects waiting in AAA, Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe chief among them, but Jankowski is doing his part to play into a full time role. The Padres will have some difficult decisions for the future, but for those who did not think that Jankowski could be an everyday player he is proving those doubters wrong with a strong second half.