Helping Wil Myers Finally Reach His Potential

Credit: AP Photo

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

A consistent position to play may help bring out the best in San Diego Padres’ outfielder Wil Myers.

Wil Myers represents the Padres’ mystery player in the article “Each team’s Great Unknown entering season” on MLB.com. By this time the Padres may also consider him the “Great Unknown” on the roster.

Myers has yet to meet his potential. He has been derailed by injuries as well as a lack of focus and intensity at times.  But the Padres organization also has to take some responsibility for his failure to play up to his abilities.

Before he was drafted in 2009 by the Kansas City Royals, Baseball America named him “one of the draft’s safer hitters, with a smooth swing he repeats and quick, strong hands….with the bat speed and leverage to produce future power.” That same report suggested he could play all over the field, a mindset the Padres also adopted, to the detriment of the team but probably Myers even more.

Myers moved up through the Royals’ farm system until he was traded to the Rays in December of 2012. He landed with the Padres in December of 2014 as part of general manager A.J. Preller’s almost complete makeover of the roster. Myers was the key piece in a three-team trade that sent catcher Rene Rivera to Tampa Bay, and Joe Ross and Trea Turner to the Nationals.

The inclusion of Turner in the trade has been questioned throughout Major League Baseball, especially since he plays shortstop, a position that had become a black hole for the Padres. Even more galling, Turner came in second behind the Dodgers’ Corey Seager in Rookie of the Year voting in 2016. Myers undoubtedly heard the unflattering comparisons to Turner.

However, the Padres (and Myers) can take comfort in the fact that the stats for both players since the trade look remarkably similar:

Myers    10 WAR       .330/.447/.771         OPS+ 111

Turner   10.4 WAR    .290/.347/4.60       OPS+ 110

In 2016, Myers made the All-Star Game which just happened to take place in Petco Park. After starting the evening 0-for-2, he smashed a double to right field and became the first Padre’ since Ken Caminiti in 1996 to get an extra-base hit in an All-Star Game. Before the start of the following season, the Padres named Myers the “Face of the Franchise” and signed him to six-year $80 million extension.

In his All-Star year and 2017, Myers played first base in 303 games, dodged the injury bug, and performed well at the plate. However, less than a year later, the Padres signed Eric Hosmer to a much larger deal (eight years at $144 million). At the time, Padres co-owner Ron Fowler remarked that Myers didn’t seem to want to be the guy or a leader in the clubhouse, thereby rescinding the face-of-the-franchise designation. Oh, and by the way, Hosmer would replace Myers at first base and send him to the outfield.

(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

Last season Myers played 41 games in the outfield, mostly in left. Then the team decided to move him to a position of more need, third base, again falling back on their belief that his athleticism would carry him through another change of position. Myers bulked up to 227 to play third, which may have contributed to the injury woes that resulted in three trips to the disabled list. By the end of the season, all parties agreed the third base experiment did not go well.

Finally healthy and back in a familiar spot in the outfield, Myers has started this season showing off his potential. But he, like the other outfielders on the team, will be fighting for playing time. To complicate matters, Travis Jankowski, the only player fully capable of covering center field in Manuel Margot’s place will be out for an extended time thanks to a broken wrist. Undoubtedly Myers will see some time in center.

So far this season (admittedly only five games), his batting line looks downright dazzling: .421/.476/.789 with two home runs, a double and two stolen bases. Of course, he and other holdovers have benefitted from the presence of yet another new guy with an even bigger contract, Manny Machado, as well as top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. After the first game, Myers told AJ Cassavell of MLB.com, “It’s different. This is a real team. This is a real lineup….This isn’t the team with three Rule-5 players on it. This isn’t the team that’s very inexperienced and young.”

On Opening Day with Madison Bumgarner on the hill, Myers drove in the only two runs by either team in a 2-0 victory. He also played a ball off the wall and threw out Evan Longoria at second.

In Sunday’s 3-1 victory against San Francisco, he placed a perfect bunt down the third-base line. Two batters later, he scored on a single by Hedges. In Tuesday’s disheartening 8-5 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Myers came off the bench and promptly hit a home run, one of his two hits.

Since the June 2015 trade that brought Myers to the Padres, he has shown signs of being the star the team counted on him to be, but not consistently. The front office must take some responsibility for his uneven performances by playing him in positions he doesn’t belong, namely center field and third base. If Myers can stay healthy, play left field consistently, and take advantage of the talent around him in the lineup; he just may finally reach his vaunted potential.

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Diane Calkins
Baseball has been a part of Diane's life since her father played professionally (mostly at the minor league level). She has written for a number of publications and concentrated on companion animal welfare. She welcomes the opportunity to write about the sport she loves. Diane shares her home with her husband and a house full of rescued animals.

13 thoughts on “Helping Wil Myers Finally Reach His Potential

  1. The bottom line? Diane is the best writer this site has. In my opinion; the staff is young and many of them see Preller with rose colored glasses on. While I don’t get it, he is the team’s GM now and he seems to have the support of Fowler and Seidler. We’ll see how the season goes.

    Why are the Padres “experimenting” so much with Mejia when you already have Hedges? Mejia is NOT a catcher! Does this drive anyone else nuts? Even Ray Charles can see that Mejia is not the one who should be mentoring all the young pitchers the Padres have. Hedges – an all star receiver, belongs behind the plate as often as he wants to play! The same thing in the outfield. Why the musical chairs and different bodies all the time? Why isn’t Hunter Renfroe playing every day in RF? I think it’s all AJ Preller and he must be the one telling Manager Green what to do and who to play. I wish it would stop. This team could be pretty good but you can’t be yanking guys off and on the field like we see now. Later on, when Travis Jankowski is ready to play, we’ll see it again. However I will say it now and every day – if you want a “take charge” CF out there and someone who won’t allow a ball to drop between two outfielders, like we saw on Fri, Jankowski is the team’s best outfielder and leader. Too bad Preller doesn’t agree. But I’m still a Padres fan!

    1. Hello Gary,
      Thanks for reading and for your high praise. One of the best things about EVT is that we have a range of ages. The young guys continue to amaze me with their knowledge, especially about all the statistical analysis. Plus there are those of us that have been around longer and have a historical perspective as well. Without James, there would be no EVT. He started it all and somehow manages to organize the writing, posting, etc. At times, it must be like herding cats…

  2. An object lesson on how to get little or nothing out of a player.
    1) Expect him to be something other than what he is.
    2) Change his position constantly.
    3) Sign him to an unwarranted extension, then dump all over him when he doesn’t improve.
    4) Surround him with bad players.
    5) Replace him with a clearly worse player.
    How to see more of his potential:
    1) Accept him as a solid, not great, player. He is a league average LF. Nothing wrong with that.
    2) Have him play ONE POSITION.
    3) Play him everyday.
    It isn’t really that hard.

  3. Everyone talks about the Myers contract as being SO horrible…Really ??….6 years at 80 million sounds darn reasonable for a still young, power hitting outfielder with speed….I have said it before…give Wil a healthy year, with protection in the lineup, and he’ll post a 280 average….with 32-38 homers, and close to 90 RBI…all of those folks who can’t wait to see him traded….I say just see how one solid season looks like, and you’ll want to see Wil in the outfield for years to come….GO PADS….😀 Paul.

    1. The contract is back loaded, over $20 Mill per season the next 3 years. He was signed to be the face of the franchise and a team leader, he failed on both fronts. Now after spending an additional $52 Mill a season on Hosmer and Machado he has enough support around him to do well for an entire season. Well he has 5.5 months to go this year, we will wait and see.

  4. Also, Myers bulked up to play first, not 3rd. He never wanted to play 3rd. No one has questioned him getting playing time due to his contract and he only got the nod for the all star game due to the game being played in San Diego. Too many inconsistencies on this one :/.

  5. Myers has never batter over 300 in a season and only has 23 at bats this year??

    I see what you did. You accidentally put Myer’s OBP as his average, his slugging as his on base but you have Turner’s stats accurately. The war is similar but Myer’s has had twice the time (In a cumulative stat) played and is far more expensive.

    1. Actually, you are mistaken on both counts. The batting average was for the first five games of the season (clearly stated in the article). Here are batting averages for first five games: 1.000, .667, .400, .462, .353.
      As for the bulking up comment, in multiple interviews last year Myers said that he bulked up to play third and that he thought that might have contributed to his injuries. He would not have been bulking up to play first, because the Padres had signed Hosmer.

      1. Lol this is just plain false, or purposefully misleading. The stats above mirror his (myers) career hitting OBP, SLG, OPS and then show Turner’s BA, OBP, slugging. I was correct that myers has never batted over 300 in a year, unless you think a 5 game sample size (Which i had already noted is phenomenal) is meaningful. These stats aren’t close to those short stats either.

        2nd count, you’re actually very wrong. Bulking up takes time – Months. Hosmer was signed a couple weeks before the season so Myers thought he was playing first. Ended up playing the OF and getting dragged to 3rd after the incumbent of headley/villa were terrible.

        Pretty bad backtracking/trying to prove false info wrong here. Everyone makes mistakes, just edit the article or admit it like any good writer.

        1. BK and Jorge,
          Context is everything, and I thought you were referring to the start of this season, not the comparison to Turner.
          You are absolutely correct, I screwed up the batting average big time. I check and recheck this stuff but obviously got that wrong. I appreciate that you read the article closely, noticed the error and took the time to comment.
          As for the bulking up, Myers himself said he did that to play third.

    2. Yeah, this is beyond confusing. ” the stats for both players SINCE THE TRADE look remarkably similar:
      Myers 10 WAR .330/.447/.771
      Turner 10.4 WAR .290/.347/4.60″

      “Actually, you are mistaken on both counts. The batting average was for the first five games of the season (clearly stated in the article).” HUH? This is clearly stated in the article? What it clearly states is that these are the stats “since the trade”!?

      These numbers makes no sense, but apparently YOU are the one that is wrong

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