Padres could be lethal if Wil Myers stays hot this season

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

With a roster dripping with All-Stars and ludicrous star power, there’s one guy in San Diego who put it all together last season who could be a huge key for this year’s team.

Since winning AL Rookie of the Year honors back in 2013 as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays, Wil Myers hasn’t quite lived up to expectations. A career .254 hitter, the former third-rounder especially fell flat with the Padres in 2018 and 2019, slashing a disappointing 245/.320/.430 in 833 plate appearances.

Those numbers essentially made him a league average offensive player – hardly what San Diego envisioned when they acquired him in December 2014 in the three-team deal that saw Trea Turner head to Washington.

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But in 2020, Myers looked like his old self. No, actually, he looked better than his old self. He ranked in the top seven percent of the league in barrel rate, WOBA, XWOBA and XWOBCON, posted a career-best 45.8 percent hard-hit rate and shaved nearly a full 10 percent off his strikeout rate from the year prior.

All this culminated in a .288 batting average – his highest since his rookie campaign and a .606 slugging percentage – another personal best and the fourth-highest mark in the Senior Circuit. It didn’t matter where he was playing, with Myers posting an OPS north of .900 both at and away from Petco Park.

With runners in scoring position, he put up a 1.267 OPS and with men on, in general, he clocked in at 1.078. In clutch situations, this was the guy you wanted at the dish. He hit .370, slugged .926 and struck out just three times in 28 plate appearances.

Like I said. He put it all together in every sense of the phrase. But now the question becomes: can he do it again?

We know the depth of this offense. We’re talking about a minimum of two All-Stars in Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado. But it’s pretty easy to see Eric Hosmer, Myers and even someone like Tommy Pham in that conversation. And let’s not forget last year’s NL Rookie of the Year finalist Jake Cronenworth.

But when you hit opposing pitchers with a combination of Tatis Jr., Machado and Myers, you’re talking about a downright fearsome heart of the order. With guys like Jurickson Profar and Trent Grisham there to lengthen the lineup, the Padres will have the best offensive team in the league if everyone’s clicking and firing on all cylinders.

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For years, Myers was looked at through the lens of playing under a contract (six years, $83 million with a team option in 2023) that he didn’t deserve. This season represents a chance to put that narrative in the ground and establish himself as the core presence the Padres have been hoping he’d be for so long.