San Diego Padres center fielder Manuel Margot is one of the hottest hitters in baseball.
Three weeks ago, San Diego Padres fans were begging for Manuel Margot to be sent down to El Paso to work through his struggles. It’s now June 23rd and Margot is having a phenomenal month of June. With a few mechanical adjustments paying dividends, fans are getting a pleasant glimpse into the type of player many believe he will become.
In 56 at-bats over 18 games, Margot is slashing .357/.429/.500 with a .929 OPS. He is producing a 156 wRC+ and .426 BABIP over the same time frame.
The first two months of the season for Margot were a disaster. He hit .192 in March/April with a .556 OPS. His production ticked up a bit in May, producing a .215 average and .583 OPS. Still, nowhere near the production fans were expecting of their long-term center fielder of the future.
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After hitting 11 doubles through the first two months of the season, Margot has six through the month of June, including three over his last two games. The over-the-fence power production hasn’t emerged with the rest of his game, but the Padres don’t need it from Margot. Any power production they get is a pleasant bonus.
Fangraphs ran a study last season, looking at players who showed a drastic increase in launch angle from the first half to the second half of the season. Margot improved from an average 4.3 degree launch angle to an average of 14.3 degrees. Eno Sarris, the author of the study, found that players with that drastic of an increase tend to retain about 60% of their production as they head into the next season. As of June 23rd, Margot is producing an average launch angle of 8.2 degrees.
The home runs may still show up. In the month of June, Margot ranks 12th in Major League Baseball in average exit velocity on balls in play, tying Mike Trout with a 93.9 EV.
Advanced metrics aside, Margot looks healthy and confident for the first time this season. He may not admit it, but the shot he took to the ribs has to be one of the primary reasons for his extremely slow start. Can you blame him, though?
The most encouraging number, his 11.1% walk rate. Unfortunately, moving around the bases has been an issue. He has zero stolen bases and has been caught three times. There have also been a few Pirela-like baserunning decisions. While it’s troubling, considering Margot has the potential to steal 30 bases a season, he’s hitting the ball well now. One step at a time.
For reference, the best month Margot put up last season (ignore his four games in the month of June last year), saw him post a 124 wRC+ and .851 OPS.