Jurickson Profar had a breakout year in 2018 but regressed considerably last year. Is there reason to believe he can bounce back with the San Diego Padres in 2020?
If there’s an area on the infield – not named catcher – that could potentially be a weak link in the San Diego Padres chain of armor, it’s Jurickson Profar. Still just 27 years of age, Profar had a breakout year with the Texas Rangers in 2018, in what seemed like a decade in the making. He was a highly-touted prospect but took forever to materialize.
However, it all came crashing back down as Profar batted just .218 in 139 games with the Oakland Athletics last year. I’m not entirely sure what Padres general manager AJ Preller had in mind when he acquired Profar in the offseason. Perhaps he is banking on Profar rebounding to 2018 numbers, but is there enough evidence to support that?
Statcast Batting Statistics
Last season saw Profar record the lowest barrel percentage (4.9) since the 2014 season. Coincidentally, it was also the worst launch angle (11.8 degrees) since 2014. He struggled mightily against every pitch; .222 off fastballs, .210 off breaking balls, and .217 on offspeed pitches. And while he smacked 11 home runs off fastballs, he also whiffed 27.0 percent and 27.6 percent on breaking and offspeed pitches, respectively.
Per Fangraphs, Profar reverted to some rookie tendencies, pulling nearly half of all balls put in play (49.9 percent). For reference, he was well-balanced in 2018, hitting 39.8 percent to left field, 33.0 percent to center, and 27.3 percent to the opposite field. And while his groundball rate was relatively the same as 2018, his flyball percentage increased from 34.3 to 37.0 percent.
Furthermore, 18.9 percent of his flyballs were infield pop-ups, which was a substantial increase from 12.6 percent in 2018. Profar’s contact rate was relatively the same between 2018 and 2019, but he was incredibly unlucky with a .218 BABIP (.269 in 2018).
Profar has generally been a solid base runner, and last season he converted on 9-of-10 opportunities. He’s fairly smart once on base as well, as he recorded just three outs on base, one better than 2018.
The one area where the Padres seem to have a legitimate concern about his ability to stick at second base this season, Profar is a below-average defender at the position. Last season, he recorded a .973 fielding percentage – league average was .981 – while committing 13 errors. In 2018, he logged a .940 fielding percentage at shortstop, .919 at third base, and .978 at second base while committing 25 errors across the diamond.
Goals for 2020
- Increased barrel percentage
- Reduce the number of infield pop-ups
- Utilize this downtime to improve his defense
Profar doesn’t come cheap this year as the Friars are now on the hook for his $5.7M contract this year, after having the chance to cut him before the end of March and void themselves of his expense.