The San Diego Padres have a bit of a dilemma with under performing first baseman Wil Myers. Diagnosing the problem is the first step.
In 2016 Patrick Brewer of Baseball Essential noted that Wil “Myers has simultaneously had an easy career and a difficult one.” Unfortunately, that curious trend has continued in his tenure with the Padres.
Drafted in the third round (91st overall) by the Kansas City Royals, Myers had played for three teams by the ripe old age of 24. So far, his first year has been his best. Called up in June of 2013 he batted .293/.354/.478 and won rookie of the year for the American League.
Since then “Myers has shown flashes of brilliance overshadowed by constant injuries and a failure to meet somewhat overwhelming expectations,” wrote Brewer. The injuries started in 2014 with a right wrist fracture and continued with the Padres. However, after surgery to remove a bone spur in his left wrist in 2015, Myers has been healthy.
The Padres obtained Myers (as well as pitchers Gerardo Reyes, Jose Castillo, and catcher Ryan Hanigan) in general manager A.J. Preller’s initial frenzy of trades beginning in November of 2014. In a three-team trade, the local team sent catcher Rene Rivera (a favorite of San Diego pitchers), outfielder Jake Bauers and pitcher Burch Smith to the Rays, and pitcher Joe Ross and shortstop Trea Turner to the Washington Nationals. In other words, the Padres gave up a lot to get Myers.
Padres’ manager Andy Green has recently tried sitting Myers for three days and then moving him down in the lineup to get his bat going. He started the year with promising numbers which have declined precipitously in successive months, from 310/.325 .593 in April to .195/.287/.390 in July.
Myers currently leads the national league in strikeouts with 131. His walk rate stands at 10.6 percent and strikeout rate at 29.4 percent, the latter being the highest in his career.
While his defense at first has certainly improved since moving from center to first base, he ranks 26th of all first baseman in WAR (0.6). Diamondback first baseman Paul Goldschmidt ranks first with a WAR of 5.5. Myers’ -04 drs (defensive runs saved) does not impress either.
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And finally, Myers’ lack of hustle has been criticized by Andy Green and noted by reporters following the team. Preller cannot have been ignorant of this reputation. After the Rays traded him, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Bay Times, reported that “Myers was moved partially because he just didn’t fit into the Rays Way. His work ethic, the way he rubbed some of his teammates wrong made him a hard fit in the Rays clubhouse.”
The Padres have to be rethinking the contract awarded Myers in the off season which made him the highest paid player in team history, to say nothing of naming him the face of the franchise.
However, the team has few options at first, as the depth chart lists Hector Sanchez and Yangervis Solarte as backups at the position. Minor league first baseman Josh Naylor, obtained in the Andrew Cashner trade and ranked 10th in the farm system by Baseball America, just moved up to the San Antonio Missions.
Andy Green can counsel Myers, move him around in the lineup and give him days off, but only Myers can prove he deserves the contract and the designation as the face of the franchise. Certainly, he has the talent, but so far he has not lived up to the potential demonstrated in his rookie year.