The San Diego Padres must be very relieved now that their rookie third baseman has apparently broken out of his funk.
Despite a few small dips in productivity and another much larger one earlier in May, as per Fangraphs, San Diego Padres’ rookie third baseman Christian Villanueva still has the highest wins above replacement value of any other Friar on the team (0.9).
The fickle nature of the WAR stat is that it puts an all-inclusive.number on overall production, and that’s never an exact science. Actually, Joe Posnanski of The Athletic wrote a terrific piece on that subject today. If you have the ability to check it out (paywall) it’s well worth the read.
While Villanueva’s revelation of a season has been an unexpected but welcome development, it hasn’t been all peaches and cream for the 26-year-old Guadalajara native in 2018.
Villanueva made his MLB debut last season, hitting .344 with a 1.094 OPS in just 32 at-bats after rosters expanded in September. That gave us a peek at what could be in store for him. After all but winning the job out of the gate this season (Chase Headley started on Opening Day but only played sparingly at third afterward) is when he really went on a tear.
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Villanueva takes MLB by storm in April
Christian Villanueva hit .321/.411/.692 with eight home runs, nineteen runs batted in, five doubles, and eight walks over the first month of the Padres’ season.
Although his 24 strikeouts in 78 at-bats were a little worrisome, there was just too much to be happy about for any of us to pay much attention to that little imperfection.
Well, the holes in his swing did eventually catch up to him as opposing pitchers were able to really take advantage of him over the first half of May.
After hitting a homer on May 1 in a 3-2 win over San Francisco, Villanueva didn’t collect another base hit until May 14.
During that time, he struck out 13 times in 33 at-bats. Things needed to change, and the young slugger responded in spades. Since that single on May 14, Christian Villanueva is slashing .320/.346/.760 with three home runs, eight RBI, and just five strikeouts in 25 at-bats.
Although he went a combined 1-for-9 in the Friars’ last series in Washington, Villanueva has clearly worked himself out of the funk he was in earlier this month and his back to doing what he does. That’s a good thing for the San Diego Padres.