Padres’ forgotten All-Star has keyed their domination of Braves

San Diego's demolition of the Braves over the weekend got a big boost from a guy that hasn't gotten nearly enough love in 2024.
San Diego Padres v Atlanta Braves
San Diego Padres v Atlanta Braves / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

When someone thinks of the San Diego Padres' lineup, they usually think about the big names, or at least those getting a lot of exposure. From the emergence of Jurickson Profar after Will Smith poked the bear, to Fernando Tatis Jr. doing Fernando Tatis Jr. things — some guys just don't get the love they deserve. Even among those who are struggling, the focus has been on the supposed stars like Xander Bogaerts and Manny Machado, both of whom haven't quite hit their stride yet.

Given the chaos that has surrounded the Padres this season, something that has seemingly been lost is how good Jake Cronenworth has been after struggling mightily in 2023. Currently third on the Padres in fWAR (1.4), just behind Tatis, Cronenworth has posted a .275/.344/.485 line with eight homers.

More importantly, Cronenworth has been a key reason why the Padres have dominated the Braves through the first three games of the series.

Padres News: Jake Cronenworth helps San Diego destroy Braves over the weekend

The Padres' pitching staff has made things pretty easy in allowing just two runs total through the first two games (good job, Matt Waldron and Yu Darvish), but the team's offense is just a different animal when Cronenworth is on a roll. In Friday's game, Cronenworth had three hits while driving in a run and helped prolong innings against Braves' ace Max Fried, which forced Atlanta to go to their bullpen much earlier than they planned.

After Saturday's game was rained out, Cronenworth got in on the fun again on Sunday along with the rest of the lineup. He only had one hit, but it was a big one as his two-run homer in the first inning quickly exposed Braves starter Bryce Elder and gave San Diego a lead they would never relinquish thanks to a great start from Darvish.

Then came Monday's doubleheader, which featured an incredible comeback from down 5-0. The Pads emerged victorious 6-5 and Cronenworth's two-run single in the top of the eighth made it 5-4 before Manny Machado's two-run double sealed it.

Will Cronenworth be able to maintain a 140 wRC+ pace throughout the rest of the 2024 season? Probably not. Even at his best, Cronenworth is generally a 120 wRC+ sort of hitter. However, the Padres are happy to enjoy this while it lasts and he definitely deserves more credit than he is currently getting.

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