Jurickson Profar has been one of the hottest hitters in the Padres lineup out of the gates this season. A closer look behind his numbers.
Through the first 19 games of the 2022 season, Jurickson Profar has been one of the most consistent players for the San Diego Padres – both at the plate and in the field. After hitting just .227 with four home runs and 33 RBI (85 wRC+) in 137 games last season, the 29-year-old was a significant question mark coming into this year. The Padres looked like they were interested in addressing the need in left field, but Profar has answered the bell.
Coming into Thursday’s series finale with the Cincinnati Reds, the Willemstad, Curacao native is first on the team in home runs (5), second in doubles (4), second in runs scored (12), and first in walks taken (12). Although he’s batting just .228 on the year, Profar has come up clutch when the Padres needed him most.
According to Fangraphs, the Padres left fielder owns career bests in Walk Rate (16.9%), Isolated Power (.333), Slugging Percentage (.561), Weighted On-base Average (.404), and Weighted Runs Created Plus (169).
He’s recently been part of several big innings for the Padres. On Tuesday, his RBI double in the top of the fourth kick-started a seven-run inning. On Wednesday, his three-run home run helped the Padres jump out to a 5-0 lead in what was a four-run third inning.
“Just fired up for (Profar),” first baseman Eric Hosmer said of his teammate. “He’s been playing such great ball, and we all know how hard he worked this winter. I saw how hard he worked in spring training. He’s doing it in all facets of the game.”
And his production hasn’t been limited to only the last few games. Profar had home runs in two of the first three games of the year. Despite a .176 average off fastballs this season, three of Profar’s have come via this pitch, including a grand slam in Arizona.
Credit: Baseball Savant
He’s been doing most of the damage on breaking and offspeed pitches. Per Baseball Savant, Profar has a .267 and .375 average on those pitches, respectively. Notably, he’s been hammering offspeed pitches, averaging a 92.7 mph exit velocity and only two strikeouts. This has been one of the biggest turnarounds between last year and this season. Profar hit just .107 on offspeed pitches in 2021.
Overall, he hasn’t been tearing the cover off the baseball, ranking in the 60th percentile for average exit velocity and the 37th percentile for hard-hit rate. But he’s been opportunistic on select pitches.
Aside from his individual production, Profar has also been getting on base for guys behind him in the lineup. As noted, he’s taking walks at a career-best 16.9% clip, four percent better than his previous high. Profar isn’t chasing pitches this year, accounting for just an 18.8% chase rate, well below the 28.3% league average. For pitches within the strike zone, he’s making contact at an 87.8% clip, better than the 82.0% league average and second only to his 2016 season (89.1%).
He’s been a sound defender in left field, making several highlight-reel plays thus far. In San Francisco, Profar ranged 100 feet in 5.6 seconds to make a diving catch that preserved the Padres’ one-run lead in the 7th inning. He’s also enjoyed a stretch of four assists in a five-game stretch, including throwing out former Padre Tommy Pham, who was attempting to turn a single into a double.
“I did a lot of work in the offseason,” Profar said. “I came in ready to play. I’m ready to show that I can play. I’m a guy, anywhere that I can help the team, I’m willing to do it.
“But for now, you know, we’re focusing on left field, so it’s good for me and good for the team, too.”
The Padres have several bats in the lineup who aren’t hitting as expected. Combined with Fernando Tatis Jr’s absence until at least June, the Friars have had several key contributors step up to keep the offense afloat. Profar is one of those guys, silencing the doubters in the process.