After an outstanding 2018 season, Jurickson Profar regressed in 2019. What can he do to improve with the San Diego Padres in 2020?
With Ian Kinsler set to retire, second base was a significant question mark heading into the offseason. San Diego Padres general manager, AJ Preller, acquired Jurickson Profar from the Oakland Athletics in December 2019. At the time, Profar was coming off a disappointing year in which he was expected to build off an impressive 2018.
His 2018 season with the Texas Rangers seemed like a decade in the making as the then 25-year-old was a highly-touted international free agent prospect signed in July 2009. In 2018, Profar posted a .254/.335/.458 line with 20 home runs and 77 RBI while significantly reducing his strikeout rate.
But while his strikeout and walk rates carried over, last year’s stats were terrible as Profar limped to a .218/.301/.410 line (89 wRC+).
Statcast Batting Statistics
After hitting .265 and .254 off fastballs and breaking balls in 2018, respectively, Profar struggled with .222 and .210 averages in 2019. He registered a career-best 6.2 percent barrel rate but at an average exit velocity of 86.7 MPH. His 14.2-degree average launch was easily a career-high as well.
Batted Ball Statistics
Profar’s batted balls did not deviate much from his career averages: 21.7 percent line drive, 41.3 percent groundballs, and 37.0 percent flyballs. However, and as noted by his launch angle, he popped up a lot of baseballs last year, 18.9 percent, which was well north of his previous career-high of 13.3 percent in 2016 and 2017.
In 2018, Profar hit to all parts of the field but reverted to being a pull hitter with nearly 50 percent of balls in play hit to the pull side of the field. He didn’t hit for relatively hard contact, with 62.3 percent comprised of soft and medium contact.
While never a significant stolen base threat, Profar swiped a perfect 10-for-10 bags in 2018. He followed that with 9-of-10 stolen bases, all at second base. He recorded just three outs on the basepaths as well, so he’s fairly smart once on base.
There was actually some discussion about whether the Padres might release Profar before March 26, which would have voided his contract for the 2020 season. In 2018, Profar committed 25 errors split among third, second, and shortstop. Last year was no revelation, as he continued to struggle in the field, logging a .973 fielding percentage at second with 13 errors.
Had the COVID-19 pandemic not shut spring training down, I do wonder if Profar would still be on the roster. I don’t expect him to have a substantial impact on the Padres when the season does begin, which is why Preller signed Brian Dozier so late into the offseason.
Was Profar the victim of bad luck last year? His .218 BABIP would suggest so, but his fielding remains to be a legitimate concern for a team that committed the third-most errors in baseball last year.