As of today, the Padres are the worst team in the National League this season.
Worse even, than the rebuilding Marlins and the forgettable Reds. When you’re a bottom of the barrel team it’s easy for the little bright spots to get brushed by the wayside or go completely unnoticed since the entire season often feels pointless. But it’s definitely worth noting some of the recent power that we’ve seen from Christian Villanueva.
Villanueva currently has 20 home runs. And while it doesn’t come close to the most in the MLB, it’s still promising from a guy who the Padres are hoping can be one of their young core going forward. Back in April, (which seems like an eternity ago at this point) Villanueva made everyone’s heart skip a beat with his beautiful slash line: .338/.430 /.730 and an OPS of 1.160. However, as soon as the calendar switched to May he came crashing back down to earth pretty hard. And throughout most of the summer it seemed as though we may have jumped the gun a bit on Villanueva’s potential.
Consistency hasn’t only been Villanueva’s problem this year. It can be considered the theme of the Padre’s season. For a team with one of the highest strikeout rates in baseball it’s important to note that Villanueva has mostly stayed on the lower end of the team’s strikeout rate, at around only 27% of the time. And despite his summer dip, he still managed to knock the ball out of the park. His 20 home runs still lead the team, with Hunter Renfroe being the second closest on that list with 14.
Since August began, we’re starting to see a bit more of that same player from April, his slash line for the month so far is currently .366/.458 /.512 with an OPS at .971. In his last seven games alone he’s batting .353 with a .421 OBP, which shows he’s becoming more patient at the plate.
It’s going to be crucial for Villanueva to finish strong this year, especially with Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias arriving to the show soon. I would love to see Villanueva become that bat that the Padres are still hoping he can be in the middle of the lineup.