No projection model believes the Padres will win more than 73 games this year. That doesn’t mean this year will be void of excitement, though. Let’s discuss one player who may be the spark for a fun stretch in 2018: Manuel Margot. Can he become just the 10th player in San Diego Padres’ history to record a 20/20 season?
The San Diego Padres have themselves a future All-Star and Gold Glove winner in Manuel Margot. An expected cornerstone of the franchise moving forward, Margot’s rookie campaign was good enough for a sixth place finish in Rookie of the Year voting. Looking ahead to 2018, Margot has the potential to join very rare company in Padres‘ history.
A calf-injury limited Margot to just 126 games last year. After rebounding nicely from the set-back, he finished with a .263 batting average, .313 on-base percentage, .146 ISO, and a 92 wRC+.
What surprised a lot of people was the power numbers. Through seven minor league seasons, Margot hit just 29 home runs, 12 of those coming in 2015. He launched 13 over the fence in his rookie season for San Diego.
The question now becomes, can Margot avoid the sophomore slump?
Can Manuel Margot become the next member of the San Diego Padres 20/20 club?
Over the last few years, Major League Baseball has seen a decreasing number of players hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases. From 2011 to 2015, the total number of players to do so dropped from 12-10-9-5-4. The last two seasons have seen a slight uptick with nine players achieving the feat in 2016 and 2017.
Only nine players in San Diego Padres history have a 20/20 season under their belt.
- Dave Winfield (’78, ’80)
- Joe Carter (’90)
- Derek Bell (’93)
- Steve Finley (’96)
- Reggie Sanders (’99)
- Ryan Klesko (’00, 01)
- Mike Cameron (’06)
- Will Venable (’13)
- Wil Myers (’16, ’17)
Is Manuel Margot capable of hitting 20 home runs? Absolutely.
Eno Sarris, now of The Athletic, took a look at Margot’s drastic difference in launch angle from the first and second half of last year. His average launch angle in the first half was 4.5. Margot turned that into a 14.3 degree average launch angle in the second half, a MLB-leading difference of 9.8 degrees (tied with Trevor Plouffe).
According to Sarris’ research, a hitter that experiences a launch angle surge like Margot won’t maintain it, but will still show growth the next season. Here are his beliefs on Margot in 2018,
"The group suggests he’ll keep 60% of his gains and have something like a 10.3 degree launch angle next year. That’s between Lorenzo Cain (10.2) and Yasiel Puig (10.6) and absolutely sounds like someone who could put up better-than-average power numbers in 2018."
If the injury bug can stay away and Margot appears in another 25-30 games, seven home runs is doable. The Padres as a whole hit a league-low .234 and were the only team that failed to reach a .300 on-base percentage (.299). Both of these factors significantly lowered the number of at-bats for Margot, along with the time he missed for injury.
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Manuel Margot will lead the San Diego Padres in stolen bases.
Reaching 20 stolen bases won’t be an issue for the 23-year-old. Margot has stolen base totals of 33, 42, 39, and 32 in the minors. Combining his low on-base percentage and leg injury resulted in just 17 last season. Five of those came in September, showcasing full recovery from his set-back.
Margot’s speed isn’t just a threat on the basepaths. His 29.3 ft/sec sprint speed was good for seventh fastest in Major League Baseball. Those ahead of him on that list (who were regular starters) posted stolen base totals of 29, 59, 60, and 21.
With a 70 grade on his speed Margot is sure to improve on his moderate number of steals from last year. The only issue then becomes his power. While he won’t be a guy who regularly hits for 20 home runs, he’s not incapable of doing so. Let’s see if Margot can put all of his tools together and join rare San Diegan air as a member of the 20/20 club in 2018.