San Diego Padres: Speed Demons

jgoehring
Sep 28, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres center fielder Manuel Margot (70) dives back to first during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 28, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres center fielder Manuel Margot (70) dives back to first during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /
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If there is one hidden strength the San Diego Padres have entering 2017, it is on the base paths. Speed can change games, and this group can use this ability to their advantage.

The youth movement of the San Diego Padres has multiple effects, some positive, and some negative. The national media and baseball experts everywhere seem to like to focus on the negative impact of having such a young roster, evident based on the consistently low expectations the Padres have for 2017.

But for fans who are sick of the same old narrative, focusing on the positives is a better alternative.

One of these positive aspects of the 2017 Padres which is so often overlooked is their speed. The Padres ranked sixth in baseball in stolen bases last season, averaging approximately .77 per game. This was even without Manuel Margot or Hunter Renfroe in the lineup for the majority of the season, two capable base stealers.

It is safe to say that Margot is the fastest player on the roster, and the most natural running the bases and in the outfield. Swiping 162 career bags in the minors, the 22-year-old is poised to add another element to San Diego’s offense which fans have been missing for quite some time.

But it’s not just Margot who will make a difference on the base paths this season. Even players who don’t have the physical makeup of track stars can run. First baseman Wil Myers stole 28 bases last season and was only caught stealing six times. The intelligence and efficiency of such a young club on the base paths is encouraging, and is one very easily overlooked strength.

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San Diego also had .16 triples per game in 2016, another indication that their roster is full of speedsters and/or solid base runners. In his minor league career, Margot legged out 35 triples, as taking the extra base even when a close play will undoubtedly ensue is a strength of the rookie.

Plus, what is especially encouraging about this team is that they haven’t lost much speed. Luis Sardinas is still the shortstop, Margot is an upgrade over Jon Jay in center, and Renfroe will hold his own in right. Alexi Amarista is the only player who may be missed due to his speed, but the additions of young players such as Margot and Carlos Asuaje should easily compensate for this.

Next: Spring Training Week One Recap

The bottom line is, the Padres are already a strong base running club and are only getting stronger as a new wave of young speed demons work their way into the majors. No matter what happens in the coming seasons, fans are sure to see some excitement on the base paths.

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