Could Padres' position switch be messing with Ha-Seong Kim and Xander Bogaerts?

So far, the Padres' preseason position switch is definitely not paying off.
San Diego Padres v San Francisco Giants
San Diego Padres v San Francisco Giants / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

The San Diego Padres, like every other team, are still knocking the rust off from the offseason. Real regular season baseball games play a lot faster after a long layoff, and while spring training helps, there is no real substitute for real game action. However, the Padres have had a longer start to their regular season than anyone after the Seoul series, and some troubling trends are already emerging.

With all of the usual small sample caveats and the delays in defensive metric reporting accounted for, the Padres have not looked great defensively so far in 2024. They currently rank 19th in MLB by FanGraphs' defensive rating, 12th in Outs Above Average, and 12th in Fielding Run Value. Considering how many high quality defenders the Padres have, this is far from normal.

A closer look shows that while Ha-Seong Kim is off to a decent start defensively, he isn't producing at quite the rate we have come to expect from him, especially when compared to last season. The numbers have also pegged Xander Bogaerts as fairly mediocre to start 2024. It is fair to wonder, then, whether or not the Padres made a mistake by switching Kim's and Bogaerts' positions this year.

The early returns on Padres' position switch have not been great

Up until this weekend, Kim's performance at short was making a strong case for why the Padres made the move to begin with. However, a defensive game to forget on Sunday that cost the Padres a series win was a reminder that as good as any guy can be as a defender, repetition still matters. Kim is still going to need some time at short to get fully comfortable back there, especially in those pressure moments.

The same is likely true for Bogaerts at second base. As of this moment, he has been net neutral both at the plate and in the field in 2024. The truth of the matter is that he has been far too good a hitter (120+ wRC+ the last six seasons) to think that will continue, and his work in the field the last couple of years has been too strong to think that he just won't be a productive defender at second base.

In short, there is a real chance that the position switch may be impacting both Kim and Bogaerts in a negative way to start the season, but there is no need to panic just yet. Kim's bad game was very costly, but it was just one game, and there hasn't been anything too glaring just yet. However, if Kim keeps booting balls that he normally handles or if Bogaerts struggles going forward, then San Diego may need to re-evaluate the move.

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