Manuel Margot and His Disappointing 2018 Season

(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

Credit: AP Photo

There was a time when the San Diego Padres considered Manuel Margot their best overall player. He has had two straight down years and, though he is still young, there are some concerns for his future in Major League Baseball.

In a season that has featured several key young players making significant strides in their development, Manuel Margot has struggled mightily at the plate as well as on the bases. This has been a bit of a departure from his 2017 season in which he played the role of a steady speed threat at the top of the lineup card; his struggles this year have seen him drop to the bottom of the order.

Margot started off the season ice cold as he was hitting under the Mendoza line with an OPS+ of just 54 at the end of April. As the months heated up though, so did Manny’s bat when he had a torrid stretch through June and July where he had OBPs of .378 and .326, respectively. However, he’s since cooled off again with a batting line of .200/.274/.273 so far in September with under a week left in the season.

Much of his struggles have seemed to come when placed near the top of the order, ideally where you would want a guy with speed like Manny’s to be hitting from. Out of the leadoff spot, he’s produced just a .183/.210/.307 line.  Margot seemed to show significant improvements after being dropped down to the 7th and 8th spots in the order and hit with much more consistency. He has an OPS+ over 110 out of each of those spots, including one of 151 out of the 7 hole.

While cutting his strikeout rate down by roughly 3% from last season, Margot’s BABIP has dropped about 30 points and he’s making softer contact as his line drive rate has dropped from 23.2% to 19.8% and his groundball rate has gone up 3.3% to 43.8%. Overall, his hard contact rate has dropped 6.1 % since last season, attributing to his notably lower BABIP.

Once on the bases, his struggles have only continued where he’s been absolutely dreadful despite having the 23rd highest sprint speed in MLB.

On stolen bases alone, Fangraphs currently has Margot at a -2.3 wSB, which measures the value a player adds (or subtracts) from his team with his base stealing. In any given season, league average will be set at zero so Manny has been costing the team runs with his base stealing this season compared to last season when he had a slightly positive run added value at 0.1. UBR takes into account the value a player adds to his team on the basepaths on non-stolen base plays. So a positive event would be taking an extra base at a higher frequency than league average while a negative event would be being thrown out on the basepaths. Manny is rated in a more positive light by Fangraphs in regards to UBR with a 1.0 on the season, which puts him into the roughly average to above average range. Overall, Manny’s baserunning has been a detriment to the team this season while last season and through the minors, it was seen as one of his plus skills. The speed is still there, but he clearly needs to work on getting better jumps and taking a straight path on stolen base attempts.

In an interview with AJ Cassavell earlier this season, Andy Green mentioned the swings adjustments Margot had made in the offseason while discussing his streaky nature through this season. During his hotter stretches, he’s been sticking to those adjustments and showing off his retooled swing that’s designed to generate more gap power that would allow him to show off his speed. But when he’s colder, he’s falling into the worst mechanics of both swings.

At 23, Manuel Margot is still a very young player going through early growth curves, but more talent is knocking on the door and ready to take a shot in the majors. With Franchy Cordero and all his tools expected to be more than ready by the start of next season, it’s time for Margot to start sticking to his adjustments. Manny clearly has very special talent in multiple facets of the game, but he is going to have to become a much more consistent player if he wants to remain a permanent piece of the first wave of hot talent lava.

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Bradley Garland
Growing up in Dodgers country, Bradley would proudly display his Padres fandom through the roughest years of non competitiveness and rebuilding. With the Padres on the verge of contending, he’s excited to get the opportunity to cover them on a regular basis along with their minor league system.
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Gary Klimas
Gary Klimas
3 years ago

Preller will NOT demote Margot NOR will he trade Myers. His ego and head is the size of a football helmet and the man will NOT admit his errors on either player OR any other player he trades for, like Mejia. If you are Austin Hedges and Hunter Renfroe, don’t stop looking over your shoulder because Preller does NOT have your back. Sad but true.

John Murray
John Murray
3 years ago

The guy’s not thick, he’s just gone complacent. He’s just got the old Chase Headley syndrome just like Wil Myers. They’ve got the old 9-to-5 mentality, just keep the checks coming and they’ll do the bare minimum unless they just happen to feel compelled to succeed at any given moment because they just happen to be out there

John Murray
John Murray
3 years ago
Reply to  John Murray

Just is just cause for just. Just saying… Didn’t realize how many times I spammed that word until after the fact.

Roddy Reta
Roddy Reta
3 years ago

Margot will be given a million chances to succeed because Preller gave up one of the best closers in baseball to acquire him. Trading or demoting Margot would be an admission that Preller lost the trade big time.

Rex Phinney
Rex Phinney
3 years ago

I’ve been saying this all year that the coddling of Margot has to stop. If he isn’t performing we have to accept that and quit giving him a free pass because he is Preller’s golden child or because Andy Green thinks he works hard. Renfroe and Reyes have both been given nothing but tough love from the team and both have shown growth this year. I wonder sometimes if all these people who rave about Margot’s tools have ever seen Franchy Cordero play baseball.

Tempe2DHall
Tempe2DHall
3 years ago

If Cordero starts in Center, the Padres will have a legit all-star, MVP, and potential record setter. Put Margo back in AAA for a full year to learn how to hit and run the bases.

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