San Diego Padres utility man Cory Spangenberg took a step back in 2018.
Believe it or not, San Diego Padres hitter Cory Spangenberg recorded the fourth-highest sprint speed for all major league third basemen in 2018, averaging 28.9 feet/second. The utility fielder may be fast, but how much did he produce at the plate this year?
The 27-year-old left-handed hitter appeared in 116 games for the Padres, hitting .235 with seven home runs, nine doubles, four triples, and 25 runs driven in across 298 at-bats. His on-base percentage dipped below .300 for the first time in his career, finishing at .298, pairing with a .362 slugging percentage and .661 OPS, both significant dips compared to his 2017 numbers.
Spangenberg even made his debut on the pitcher’s mound this year, appearing in two games and giving up three earned runs on four hits while walking three and striking out none. Sorry Cory, but hopefully we don’t have to see any more position players taking the mound in 2019.
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A former first-round pick of the Padres, Spangenberg recorded a strikeout rate of nearly 33%, a near 7% increase from 2017. His walk rate remained consistent at 7% for a third-straight season. When looking at his monthly splits, both of these numbers peaked in the final months of the season as Spangenberg drew a walk in 15% and 14% of at-bats in the months of August and September, respectively. His strikeout rate reached a peak at 41% to end the season in September.
There were some positives to take away from Spangenberg’s season at the plate. His batting average against breaking pitches took a near 100 point jump to .244, he became a bit more patient by swinging at the first pitch about 8% less, and he started to find the barrel of the bat more consistently. Unfortunately, Spangenberg’s average against fastballs took a massive dip from .316 to .226.
Looking ahead to 2019, expect to see Spangenberg back in the same role he served in 2018. He is a left-handed bat with speed who can play multiple positions (second, third, short, left last year), a hot commodity across the league.