Not too much has gone right this season for the San Diego Padres, however, they have improved in a key statistical category.
Trying to find positive storylines to write about this season is a lot like trying to find a way to get my students to turn in their homework, nearly impossible. With just two months left in the season, it’s time for a number of players to make a case for their future role with this team. There are two players who have made their case loud and clear, looking more and more like future stable pieces of 2019 San Diego Padres, and beyond.
Manuel Margot and Wil Myers have been two of the only positive storylines over the last month. Margot hit .197 in April and .215 in May, failing to record an OPS over .600 in either month. He made great strides in June, having one of the best months of his very young career. Margot hit .309 with a .378 OBP in July, before falling to .274 and .326 in July.
Margot did progress in one area of his game that has been lacking this season, the stolen base. Comming into July, Margot had just six stolen bases and was caught six times. He was caught just once in July, stealing four bases.
Myers hasn’t played very much this season but he announced his healthy return last month. Of his 27 hits, 16 went for extra-bases, including seven home runs. The goal for Wil Myers the rest of the way out is to remain healthy and continue to flash his bat. His strikeouts are up, in part to a much higher chase rate, however, he’s clearly been the best hitter on this team, when healthy.
San Diego Padres with runners in scoring position.
The offense of the 2017 Padres was disgraceful. The Friars finished dead last in team batting average (.234) and on-base percentage (.299). They were the only team in baseball to not reach at least the .300 mark in on-base percentage.
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You probably don’t have to be reminded that those numbers are even worse in 2018. Never say “it can’t get any worse” when referring to the Padres. Before beginning their series with the Cubs on Thursday evening, San Diego was hitting .231 with a .295 OBP. The New York Mets are the only team hitting worse than the Padres, who join the Baltimore Orioles as two of the only teams with under a .300 OBP.
The Padres don’t get on base very often and their baserunning is equally as atrocious. Using Fangraphs’ baserunning metrics (BsR), the Padres rank 27th with a -7.6 BsR. It’s a rare occasion to see baserunners in scoring position for the Padres, however, this lineup has stepped up in a big way, once runners are 180 feet or less away from scoring.
In 2017, San Diego hit .230 with RISP. That number has jumped to .247, this year. While that mark remains below league average (.252), it’s good enough for 19th best in MLB.
Two of the biggest contributors to this progress has been Margot and Myers. Margot is hitting .349 with RISP, after hitting just .194 with RISP last season. The sample size for Wil Myers is much smaller, due to injuries, but he’s still hitting .406 in the same situation. Myers hit just .222 with RISP in 2017.
This lineup hasn’t had a reliable leadoff hitter for a very long time. If the Padres can target a true table setter in the offseason, it should have a positive domino effect on the rest of the lineup. As we see above, if you dig a little deeper, you can find a few improvements that they can build on going forward.