The San Diego Padres have a couple of hitters who have started off the season hot. One resides at the shortstop position in the Friars’ infield. The other has spent most of his time directly behind him, and he’s been nearly as locked-in.
After his second straight three-hit game (and third in his last five games), San Diego Padres’ left-fielder Jose Pirela has his batting average above .300 (.302) and has a respectable .742 OPS.
Pirela, 28 has five RBI already, mostly coming from the two-hole in the Friars’ batting order, and four doubles. After shortstop Freddy Galvis, Pirela has become the next guy Friars fans want to see come to the plate in a big spot.
We all kind of saw this coming last season, though. In 83 games (312 at-bats), by far the most time he’s seen at the major-league level in one season since making his debut in 2014 with the New York Yankees, he slashed .288/.347/.490 with 10 homers, 40 RBI, and a hefty accumulation of 25 doubles.
Through exactly a quarter of the at-bats he saw last year (312 in 2017, 53 so far in 2018), Pirela is on a similar doubles-pace once again. With him playing every day, there’s a great possibility that he’ll get 600 at-bats and push for 40-45 doubles this season. That would be nice, huh?
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An advanced look at Padres’ Jose Pirela
Jose Pirela has been slaughtering inside pitches so far for the Padres, according to his heat charts on his player page on MLB.com.
Five of his thirteen hits so far have come on the inside third of the plate and two of those have been in the upper inside corner of the chart, off of the plate completely.
His hardest hit balls, again per MLB.com, have come on pitches a little high in the zone and center-to-outside (100.9 MPH exit velocity high-middle; 102.3 MPH high-outside).
He’s averaging over 94 MPH exit velocity in six of the nine boxes directly over the plate in his chart so it’s clear, he’s crushing the ball wherever opposing pitchers are putting them.
Any different way you slice it, Jose Pirela has become a vital part of this team’s offense. They go as he goes, it seems. Hopefully, this continues. As the rest of the team heats up (read: Eric Hosmer) and we see the full capability of this offense, Pirela could be right in the middle of everything.