Early in 2024, Jurickson Profar is very much relevant for Padres

Apr 14, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; San Diego Padres outfielder Jurickson Profar (10) gestures to the dugout after a three run double in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

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Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Jurickson Profar has been a key contributor for the Padres early on this season.

When the Padres signed Jurickson Profar to a one-year, $1 million deal ahead of this season, much hand-wringing ensued about the Padres’ plan for left field. Profar, with his lifetime WAR under 5.0 in 10 years, with a career OPS+ of 93, couldn’t possibly be their everyday left fielder, right?

Profar seems to be proving the many doubters and skeptics wrong early on.

The 31-year-old provides much value as a switch hitter playing serviceable defense in left. What’s truly shocking is how effective Profar has been at the plate. He is a career .240 hitter. His batting average this season currently sits at a stellar .321,

Fernando Tatis Jr. has a solid .536 slugging percentage, tied for the team lead. He’s tied with Profar.

Profar also leads the team in OPS (.960) and OPS+ (168). His 13 RBI is second only to Jake Cronenworth. He also paces the team with six doubles.

This past weekend at Dodger Stadium was a culmination of what Profar has been for the Padres early this season. After starting something of a kerfuffle with Dodgers catcher Will Smith in Saturday’s game when a pitch came in a little tight, Smith was later quoted questioning why the Dodgers would throw at Profar since he is “kind of irrelevant.”

It’s not for me to say if Profar was personally offended by the comment. Either way, he certainly played like it on Sunday.

For the whole world to see on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, Profar provided the key moment in a series-winning effort for the Padres. Thanks to a very sloppy day for the Dodgers that included their pitching staff issuing 14 walks to Padres hitters, Profar was gifted a moment to turn the tables on that little side-story.

He lined a 102.8 mph drive off the centerfield wall for a key three-run double, clearing the bases. That would be the difference in the Padres’ 6-3 victory, which also gave them the series win at Dodger Stadium. It capped off a 4-2 week for San Diego.

While Profar deflected media inquiries about Smith’s comment, Padres de facto captain Manny Machado certainly had a response after the win on Sunday night.

However you slice it, it was about as spicy and entertaining of a series in April as you will find. Profar, even with pedestrian career numbers overall, found himself in the spotlight. And he delivered.

In fact, he has delivered time and time again early this season. This was not just a one-off occasion. Profar has been one of the most valuable pieces to the Padres early this year as they stand right at .500 at 9-9.

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Don’t forget, just over a week ago, Profar delivered with the bases loaded as well. He smacked a grand slam in San Francisco in the first inning. That was the entire scoring for either team, as the Padres beat the Giants 4-0. He quite literally won them that game.

The Padres are likely far worse off so far this year without Profar’s efforts. Is it too early to crown him an All-Star? Of course. It’s still April. His numbers likely will regress back towards his career averages over time.

But thus far, with the Padres off to a better start than they had in 2023, Profar has been as relevant as any Padre on the roster.

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