Grading the Padres: Infielders and Catchers

Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 season did not end as the San Diego Padres hoped.

Despite the fact the Padres did not hoist a World Series trophy, the season was still a success for a franchise that mainly laid dormant for the existence of its 50-plus years. The Padres are a very relevant team with a great future. That is exciting for the city of San Diego.

This infield and catching unit provided much joy, but there was also a lot of heartache from this group.

The absence of Fernando Tatis Jr. from the season was a massive hole for the Padres. Between a wrist injury from a winter motorcycle accident (or two) to his 80-game suspension for PED use, Tatis hurt the Padres. The franchise recovered and produced one of the best seasons in the organization’s history.

Here is a look at the infielders’ grades for the 2022 season. The catching corp was included in this group.

Catchers

 

Austin Nola  .251/.321/.329  .649 OPS/1.9 WAR     Grade- C-

The Padres finished 29th of 30 teams in defensive metrics from the catching group. Only the Kansas City Royals finished with a worse grade. Austin Nola caught most of the games behind the dish, and these numbers reflect him. Of the six defensive metrics (rSZ, rCERA, rSB, rGFB, DRS, FRM) used to rank catchers, the Padres finished with a minus grade in four of the categories. That is not good. His pitching staff may love Austin Nola, but his numbers are below average as for as defense is concerned.

With the bat, Nola has not produced like he did in Seattle. For the Mariners, Nola produced a .827 OPS and a 125 OPS+ in two seasons. For the Padres, Nola owns a .675 OPS with an OPS+ of 95. He has not hit well, but the backstop is signed for the next three seasons before hitting free agency in 2026. The Padres need players who aren’t making a ton of money on their roster. Nola fits that bill, but he must produce to save his starting gig.

In 2022, Nola produced a .649 OPS and an OPS+ of 91 in 110 games. The Padres expect more from Nola, who was thought of as an offensive weapon when acquired from the Mariners. His defense is average at best, and the offense is not improving. The Padres will likely explore other options but may remain with Nola for the 2023 season. He needs to improve to remain the number one catcher.

 

Jorge Alfaro   .246/.285/.383   .667 OPS/0.7 WAR     Grade- C-

This Colombian catcher was responsible for five walk-off hits during the season. The Padres were pleased with the offensive ability he showed at times. But Alfaro also looked lost at the plate, swinging at anything that was offered up to him by opposing pitchers. There is upside, but the Padres will need to see more from him in the batter’s box if he wants consistent at-bats.

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Defensively, Alfaro is a work in progress. Though he is athletic and has excellent footwork, his receiving skills are below average. You get a feeling that his future in the league is at another position or simply as a DH against left-handed hitters. There is one more year on his contract, and he needs to improve in both areas to remain a major leaguer. The Padres lost confidence in him in the playoffs as he failed to play one inning or get a single at-bat in the whole postseason.

 

Luis Campusano    .250/.260/.333    .593 OPS/-0.2 WAR    Grade- C

It is unfair to grade Campusano, who only earned 46 at-bats during the season for the Padres. He hit well in El Paso, but who doesn’t perform in El Paso? The Padres are pleased with his offensive ability, where the right-handed hitter shows power and ability to square up the baseball.

His defensive concerns have minimized, but work is still to be done. Campusano is a good pitch framer but can be stiff at times and looks as though he lacks concentration at the position. Some pitchers still had a hard time throwing to him, which is a concern for the Padres. He earns average grades for now.

 


First Base

Eric Hosmer    .268/.334/.382    .716 OPS/1.1 WAR   Grade- F

In 2022, the Eric Hosmer era ended in San Diego as the Padres traded their first baseman to the Boston Red Sox. The Padres wanted so desperately to rid themselves of Hosmer that the team will pay the remaining three years left on his deal. There is no way to justify that if you are a fan of Eric Hosmer. His time in San Diego was an epic failure.

Defensively, Hosmer never came to San Diego with his first baseman’s mitt. He, time and time again, showed horrific footwork around the bag. His swing regressed back to a ground ball machine in 2022, and that was the end for the club. Despite all the clubhouse leader talk, the Padres paid another team to employ him.

 

Josh Bell    .266/.362/.422    .784 OPS/3.0 WAR      Grade- C-

The switch-hitter was supposed to solidify the middle of the lineup for the Padres, but he did not. Bell was acquired with Soto as the Padres paid a hefty prospect haul to the Nationals. To make it worse, Hosmer vetoed the original deal, and the Padres were forced to deal Luke Voit, who was under contract for a few more years.

Credit: NBC Sports

Bell showed glimpses of production during the postseason, but his arrival in San Diego during the regular season was a failure. The first baseman put up a .587 OPS for the Padres in 53 games after producing a .877 OPS in 103 games for the Nationals. Defensively, the Padres witnessed that Bell was not a superb fielder. He lost starts down the stretch and in the playoffs to Wil Myers, who showed a plus glove at first base. A failure of a showing for Bell in a Padres uniform, but his playoff dramatics did earn him a passing grade for the year.

 

Brandon Drury   .263/.320/.492   .813 OPS/2.6 WAR    Grade- B-

Drury battled to get back to the majors and be a useful player. The right-handed hitter smashes southpaw pitching and has plus power. In 92 games for the Reds, Drury put up a .855 OPS and 20 homers. For San Diego, he slowed down slightly to the tune of a .724 OPS and eight homers in 46 games. The season was still positive for Drury as he heads into free agency.

With the glove, Drury can play all over the diamond. He is adequate on the field but nothing stellar. His versatility will appeal to several teams, and the Padres may elect to bring back the 29-year-old. Drury lost some at-bats in the playoffs but is still very useful. His season was decent, but his time in San Diego hurt his overall grade.

 

Wil Myers    .261/.315/.398    .713 OPS/1.1 WAR     Grade- C-

In the last year of his deal with the Padres, Myers had a down year. He struggled with a knee injury and missed a few months in the middle of the season. His offensive numbers were down across the board as he struggled, once again, with consistency. Myers did provide leadership for the team and was always open and willing to engage with the fans. He even bought shots for a bar full of fans after the Padres eliminated the Dodgers in the playoffs.

Credit: AP Photo

Myers can play all over the diamond, and he has because the Padres have asked him to. At the end of the year, the Padres utilized Myers at first base after the Hosmer trade. Bob Melvin seemed to fall in love with Myers at the position as he showed that he is easily the best defender at the position on the roster. Myers still has some offensive upside and will be a free agent this winter. The Padres may take a flier on him, but it will only come on a team-friendly deal.

 

 

Second Base

Jake Cronenworth   .240/.333/.394    .727 OPS/4.1 WAR     Grade- B-

Though the second baseman made his second All-Star game, you get a sense it was a down year for the left-handed hitter. He is capable of better offensive numbers but seemed to really utilize a lofty swing in 2022. He ranked among the league leaders in fly ball outs as Cronenworth had a bit of an uppercut swing to his path. The batting average should be better, and that will hopefully come for him.

Jake Cronenworth is easily one of the best defenders at second base in the league. The University of Michigan alum is capable of playing shortstop if the Padres need him to. In 2023, Cronenworth may see some time at first base as the Padres currently have no option at the position. His value is at its pinnacle as a keystone player. The future is still bright for Cronenworth, who was of tremendous value to the Padres, as he is not due for free agency until the winter of 2026.

 

 

Shortstop

Ha-Seong Kim   .251/..325/.383    .708 OPS/4.9 WAR     Grade- B

What more can be said about this Korean superstar? He made the loss of Tatis bearable, as Kim provided stability at the shortstop position. The right-handed hitter does not bring the prolific bat that Tatis brings with him to the batter’s box, but he proved serviceable. Kim came with a stigma that he could not handle the fastball, and he proved that narrative wrong for the most part. Though his swing tends to be too long, he timed the ball well and produced several key hits for the Padres in 2022.

Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The defensive wizard is stable and has a real strong throwing arm. The Padres will have a big decision in 2023 as Fernando Tatis Jr. will return, and Kim is a Gold-Glove caliber defender at a premium position. The future looks bright for Kim as he starts to really drive the ball and produce with the bat more. There is a lot to like about his game beyond the stat line.

Third Base

Manny Machado   .298/..366/.531   .898 OPS/6.8 WAR    Grade- A

The Padres MVP made a case for himself as the NL MVP in 2023. Manny Machado enjoyed a fantastic year with the bat and the glove. He led the Padres on and off the field provided a presence that was needed for a team that went deep into the postseason. He has matured like fine wine and is the cream of the National League crop when it comes to professional hitters.

There is a possibility that his numbers get better with a full year of Juan Soto and Fernando Tatis Jr. around him in the lineup. That is a scary thought. The defender is one of the best in the league but was snubbed by the NL coaches as he did not make the final three for the Gold Glove award. Expect Machado to come out with a massive chip on his shoulder in 2023. Beware MLB.

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James Clark
James was born and raised in America's Finest City. He is a passionate baseball fan with even more passion towards his hometown Padres. Editor-In-Chief of EastVillageTimes.com. Always striving to bring you the highest quality in San Diego Sports News. Original content, with original ideas, that's our motto. Enjoy.

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