No seriously, Jackson Merrill has a strong case as the Padres’ 2024 MVP

San Diego Padres v Boston Red Sox
San Diego Padres v Boston Red Sox / Jaiden Tripi/GettyImages
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The San Diego Padres have had a lot of positive storylines during the 2024 season. Despite being late additions to the team, Dylan Cease has stabilized the Padres' rotation after a ton of offseason losses there and Jurickson Profar has been one of the best outfielders in baseball despite never looking remotely this good in his career. No one should take anything away from those guys as they deserve all the love they are getting.

However, there is a real argument that neither of them have been the Padres' true MVP in 2024. Instead, that honor may belong to rookie Jackson Merrill, who has surpassed every expectation that was placed upon him and has given the Padres a ton of clarity of where they are headed as a franchise.

The case for Jackson Merrill's ascent being the most valuable addition to the Padres this season

If we are looking strictly at a metric like WAR, Profar's 2.9 fWAR is higher than Merrill's. However, Merrill's 2.5 fWAR is not far behind, and he has done so as a rookie outfielder who was an infield prospect by trade just a few months ago. The counting stats have the race very close as well, with Merrill now having the edge in homers after his latest power binge. However, the only thing that is holding Merrill back is a low walk rate, but that feels likely to improve now that pitchers need to worry more about keeping him in check.

More importantly, Merrill slipping into the everyday outfield role after a strong spring training cannot be understated. The kid switched positions during big league camp and has become a cornerstone of the Padres' lineup in his first season in the majors. Profar's performance has been remarkable, but that feels like San Diego caught lightning in a bottle. Merrill, on the other hand, feels like he has carved a permanent place on the roster by sheer force of will at a position that they desperately needed clarity with.

When the dust settles, we will see where these two guys stand. Profar's lingering knee issues could hold him back in the second half and allow Merrill to make this a clear choice ... or Profar may just keep mashing all year long. The Padres are winners either way, but Merrill becoming such a key piece of their present and future this season still could be considered the most valuable development of all.

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