Wil Myers is the longest-tenured member of the San Diego Padres. What does he need to rebound in 2020 and live up to his contract?
Acquired before the 2015 season, Wil Myers struggled with a wrist injury in his first year with the San Diego Padres. He posted big numbers in 2016 and earned himself a six-year, $83 million contract extension. Myers is under team control through the 2022 season with a $20 million club option in 2023 as well.
He’s posted down years in 2018 and 2019, with the latter being the most disappointing. Myers posted a .239/.321/.418 line with 18 home runs and 53 RBI in 155 games. It was his lowest batting average and slugging percentages since 2014.
He’s been the subject of trade rumors with the most recent linking him to a three-team trade with the Boston Red Sox. Let’s identify where he needs to improve in 2020.
Statcast Batting Statistics
Despite a .239 average, Myers recorded a career-best 11.2 percent barrel rate but at an average exit velocity of 88.9 MPH. The number was the lowest since 2016, which oddly enough, was a career-year for Myers.
His 11.1 average launch angle was in line with his 11.3 career-average and the MLB average of 11.2 degrees. Myers struggled the most with anything not named a fastball. For breaking and offspeed pitches, he posted a .154 and .179 average, respectively.
Myers’ 34.2 percent strikeout rate was easily a career-worst, heavily influenced by his 43.6 percent whiff rate on breaking balls.
Batted Ball Statistics
Myers hit 21.8 percent line drives, 43.1 percent groundballs, and 35.1 percent flyballs; all in line with his career averages. His 13.0 percent infield flyballs were considerably higher than his career average, which means he popped up a lot of baseballs in 2019.
Myers also reverted to some younger player tendencies. He pulled the ball at a 46.5 percent clip to go along with 32.0 percent to center field and 21.6 percent to the opposite field. For reference, in 2016, Myers had a relatively even split of 38.3/37.8/23.9.
And when he puts the ball in play, Myers has generally hit for medium or hard contact. Last year was no exception.
No longer the stolen base threat that he once was, Myers still converted 16-of-23 chances. All opportunities came at second base. Generally smart on the basepaths, Myers recorded just three outs while on base: one each at second, third, and home.
The jack of all trades, Myers saw time at five positions last year. He spent the most in left field after once serving as the everyday first baseman. In left, Myers recorded a .991 fielding percentage but also committed five errors. Right field is where he figures to spend the majority of 2020.
Myers is a prime candidate for a bounceback season. He posted a career-worst strikeout rate last year. And with exception to his infield pop-ups, Myers’ peripherals generally paralleled his career statistics. Reduce the number of strikeouts in 2020, and Myers’s slash line should normalize.