Jake Cronenworth is ready for revenge in 2024

Jake Cronenworth

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After a broken glove and an 0-for-4 first game, there was even more pressure put on San Diego Padres first baseman Jake Cronenworth this MLB season.

Cronenworth, 30, is playing the first year of his seven-year, $80 million contract (2024-30), which he inked three days into the 2023 season.

The 2020 ROTY runner-up and two-time National League All-Star has entered the 2024 campaign coming off a disappointing season, in which he slashed just .229/.312/.378 in 127 games before ending the year on the injured list.

Cronenworth remarks that he has learned from the down season and plans to bring a more practical approach to the plate.

“I wasn’t putting myself in a good position to hit, and I was trying to do too much,” Cronenworth said in an interview with Kevin Acee, “And that’s a recipe for disaster.”

For a more balanced righty-lefty lineup construction, newly signed manager Mike Shildt began penciling Cronenworth in at the three-spot during spring training. It is a move that has carried over into the first two games of the young season.

The lefty’s refined approach in the box has already paid off for the Padres, who split the opening series with the Dodgers in Korea. After a hitless first game with two strikeouts, Cronenworth went 4-for-4 with four RBIs and was one of the most significant factors in the Padres’ 15-11 win on Thursday.

The slugger’s perfect day in the box brought Padres fans the memories of Cronenworth’s potential impact on the lineup. Cronenworth is due for a bounce-back season, and his hot 4-for-8 start is just the beginning.

In his first all-star selection in 2021, Cronenworth racked up 4.8 bWAR and slashed .266/.340/.460. On the season, he smacked 21 homers, including four in as many games from June 21-24.

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Cronenworth’s .239/.322/. 390 slash line in 2022 was a step down from the year prior, but it still earned him his second all-star game nomination. In the 2022 postseason, Cronenworth solidified himself as a San Diego legend when he delivered the go-ahead single in the seventh inning against the Dodgers in game four of the National League Division Series.

At the first base position, the Padres look to get more consistent power out of the lefty. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Cronenworth added about 10 pounds of muscle over the offseason. Additionally, he holds his elbows much higher for a more smooth plane through the zone.

Padres fans first saw Cronenworth’s new swing in spring training, where he sported a .457 OBP and .857 OPS. Beyond his bat, the utility man will play stellar defense wherever Shildt pencils him in, whether it be a shortstop, second base, or first base.

The Padres will need Jake Cronenworth to be the all-star-level, left-handed bat he has been moving forward in 2024 if they plan on competing.

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