San Diego Padres: 2020 player profile, Tommy Pham

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

Acquired to help the San Diego Padres get on base more, Tommy Pham is coming off a tremendous year. Where can he improve?

When the San Diego Padres connected with the Tampa Bay Rays the first time in the offseason, they acquired one of the more prominent on-base guys in Tommy Pham. The 32-year-old came up through the Cardinals’ minor league system and experienced a breakout season in 2017 with regular playing time.

He was traded to the Rays mid-season in 2018 and posted a .818 OPS last year, including a .369 on-base percentage. Pham was potentially expected to begin the year on the injured list, recovering an elbow injury that he sustained last year. However, if there’s any benefit to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has allowed Pham to return to 100 percent health.

Statcast Batting Statistics

Despite posting impressive numbers last year, Pham posted a career-worst barrel percentage (7.9) last year. It was also his worst exit velocity since 2017, which is astonishing, given that he performed so well in both years. Balls left Pham’s bat at an average exit velocity of 5.1 degrees, easily a career-low, but he also posted a career-low in strikeout percentage (18.8).

Pham saw a fairly even split of 60/30/10 for fastball/breaking/offspeed pitches. He had tremendous success off fastballs and offspeed pitches, posting .472 and .532 slugging percentages, respectively. With regards to breaking balls, Pham hit them with relatively weak contact and at a low launch angle.

Batted Ball Statistics

Pham posted a career-high 53.4 percent groundball rate and the lowest home run to flyball ratio (19.1) since his rookie season. Was he the recipient of some good luck? His .316 BABIP would suggest he was, with league-average being .300; however, that number was a career-low for Pham.

He’s generally done well hitting to all parts of the field, and last year as no different. Pham spread it out 38.7 percent to left, 36.2 percent to center, and 25.2 to right field. He likely experienced so much success, even in a down year, because of a 15.3 percent soft contact rate. That obviously means that balls put in play were hit, and hit hard.


Pham made the majority of his starts with the Rays in left field, which is where he’ll be set up when the Padres’ season eventually gets going. He played perfect defense with league-average at the position being a .983 fielding percentage. Pham tied his career-best with eight assists from the position as well.

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Pham was the most active on the basepaths since 2017, swiping 25 bags and being caught just four times. He successfully stole second base 18 times in 21 chances and third base seven times in eight chances. That said, he needs to clean up his baserunning, as he recorded 12 outs on bases.