The offense struggled all season long, however, the San Diego Padres need to see more production coming from the leadoff spot.
The offseason is officially here after the Boston Red Sox took down the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games in this year’s World Series, a pleasant sight for many San Diego Padres fans. All of the attention now turns to free agent negotiations, setting 40-man rosters, and preparing for the upcoming winter meetings. We have already discussed a few possible trade scenarios and free agent targets, so until offseason news starts rolling in, let’s continue with our player review series and take a look at a few key improvements the Padres must make in 2019.
Unfortunately, San Diego Padres leadoff hitters finished with a .237 average last year, ranking 25th in the league ahead of Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles (Angels), Baltimore, and Detroit. For comparison, the Red Sox finished first in baseball in this category, hitting .332 from the leadoff spot. The league average was .260.
Looking at on-base percentage, the story gets even worse. San Diego leadoff hitters reached base at a .301 clip (26th best in MLB), 32 points below league average.
Travis Jankowski was slotted atop the Padres batting order 70 times in 2018, more than any other player on the roster. Manuel Margot was second with 35 games, followed by Freddy Galvis with 18 and Jose Pirela with 17.
Jankowski experienced moderate success in the top slot, hitting .261 (one point above average) with a .340 on-base percentage, a healthy number. His ability to successfully steal bases at a high percentage (81%) and hit for extra-bases (16 of 72 base hits) were positives, however, when looking at the big picture, Jankowski was right at league average from the leadoff position.
On the other hand, Manuel Margot was disastrous from the leadoff spot. In his 35 games, Margot hit an embarrassing .180 with a .210 on-base percentage. His tOPS+ was just 52 (100 is league average). He racked up just 47 total bases and a 30/5 K/BB ratio. From the seventh position in the order, Margot hit .292 with a 14/13 K/BB ratio and .373 OBP in nearly 50 less at-bats.
Will Luis Urias slot in as the leadoff hitter next year? The career .306/..397/.405 minor league hitter appears to have the patience, plate awareness, and skill set to have a long, successful career at the top of the batting order.
Or will San Diego look to fill their shortstop need with someone suited to hit leadoff? Either way, for the rest of this lineup to work, there needs to be a lot more production from the leadoff spot.
Looking at the current roster, who are you putting in the leadoff spot?