According to reports, the San Diego Padres have decided that their young infielder will begin the season with the team.
The 26-year-old Mexican native has had a fantastic spring. After an extremely hot start to the Cactus League schedule, Villanueva has cooled down a bit. Though, his numbers still sit at more-than-respectable levels.
In 41 at-bats this spring, he’s hitting .268 with three home runs, 13 RBI, and a .924 OPS. The quality of pitching that he’s faced, as measured by baseball-reference.com as Opponent Quality, is 6.8 out of a possible score of ten, ten being MLB-level pitching.
That’s an extremely encouraging number. The way he’s smashed left-handed pitching this spring is even more exciting. In 14 at-bats against lefties, Villanueva’s hitting .500 with two homers and ten RBI.
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Villanueva’s expected role with the San Diego Padres
The guy he’s most likely to share playing time with, Chase Headley, fares a bit better against right-handed hitters than he does against lefties.
In 358 at-bats versus right-handers last season, Headley hit .279/.373/.405 with eight home runs, 46 RBI, and drew 51 walks.
In less than half as many at-bats against southpaws (154), he still hit .260 with a .708 OPS.
In the Friars’ current situation at third, it seems that a platoon of Headley and Villanueva could be what we’re heading towards.
Christian Villanueva performed well in his first MLB stint toward the end of last season. In just 32 at-bats, he had eleven hits, four of which were home runs, with seven RBI.
His .344 and 1.094 OPS, while probably not sustainable, gave everyone with a rooting interest in this team a little bit of hope.
Now that he’s nabbed himself an Opening Day spot with this team, Christian Villanueva can continue down his path of development, build off of the positives, learn from his mistakes, and continuously get better.