Looking ahead to 2019, Travis Jankowski is a player the San Diego Padres need to keep.
The San Diego Padres have a lot of dead weight on the roster. Many fans have come to appreciate mediocre players or flat out bad players because they are the best this team has. I get it. If you watch these guys night in and night out, you find reasons to love certain players. However, it’s time to start deciding whether certain players are here to stay or go. Travis Jankowski is one of those players that many fans have come to love, but unlike many of his teammates, he brings a few different skill sets to the team that will be highly beneficial, if this team starts competing by the set goal of 2020.
To begin with, Jankowski should not be an everyday player, moving forward. He is, however, the ideal fourth-outfielder, late-game substitute that can have a big influence on whether or not the Padres win a ball game.
He is the only Padres hitter with a 10% or higher walk rate, among all batters with at least 300 plate appearances. His strikeout rate is at 18%, a very respectable number. The on-base percentage is currently at .334, the highest mark on the team, other than A.J. Ellis.
Sure, his wRC+ is just 88 and he’s a 1.0 WAR player, according to FanGraphs, however, a few of his splits tell us a much more positive story.
Jankowski leads all of Major League Baseball (among qualified hitters) with a .435 batting average in the ninth inning of ball games. Five of his 28 plate appearances have ended in a walk and he ranks seventh in wRC+ (226), eighth in OPS (1.188), and second in on-base percentage (.536).
The one aspect of the game that Jankowski brings to the table, and no other current Padre does, is elite baserunning. Per FanGraphs, he is worth 3.2 runs above average on the basepaths (BsR), which would rank him in the top 30 (just behind Dee Gordon, Ozzie Albies, and Addison Russell) if he had enough at-bats to qualify.
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Baseball Prospectus ranks Jankowski 8th in the league in their baserunning metric, BRR, with a 4.0. For comparison, Billy Hamilton, Tim Anderson, and Eddie Rosario lead the league in BRR with a 7.9 and 6.6, respectively. BRR is calculated using a few components including GAR (advancement on non-hit ground balls), AAR (non-hit balls in the air), HAR (hits), SBR (stolen base) and OAR (wild pitches, passed balls, and balks).
He’s aggressive, but is successfully aggressive, for the most part. Jankowski has been credited with four Outs On Base (three at second base, once at home plate), slightly below the league average of five. As for stolen bases, he has 20 swipes, stealing bases at an 80% success rate. All of the baserunning numbers add up to create a late-inning game changer.
But wait, there’s more! His 29.1 feet/sec sprint speed (according to Statcast), is one of the fastest speeds in the league (38th among all MLB players). That speed in the outfield has translated to seven Outs Above Average, tied for ninth most in MLB and a 93% catch percentage, 10th highest in the majors.
While he hasn’t made any five-star catches this season, he does lead the league in four-star catches with 10.
Lock this man up and keep him on the roster for the forseeable future. There aren’t many players on this current roster who have earned themselves a spot on the team moving forward, however, Travis Jankowski is one who has.