At some point in the 2018 season there were some whispers that Manuel Margot needed to be sent down to Triple-A to work on his craft.
He was struggling badly at the plate and looked like only a shadow of the rookie who produced consistently during the 2017 season.
A fastball in the ribs landed the prized outfielder on the disabled list in mid-April and it took him awhile to get his feet back under him in the batter’s box. Times were certainly rough for him as he battled through his first real slump at the major league level.
The 23-year-old Dominican outfielder was even being platooned by the team and relegated to batting eighth in the lineup at one point, as he worked his way back. His golden smile was not seen as often as Margot battled the mental part of the game, which claims many youngsters.
After hitting under .200 during the first two months of the season, Margot has exploded to the tune of a .842 OPS and a 127 OPS+ for the months of June and July. The smile is back as Margot, once again, is having fun playing the game of baseball. The Padres’ center fielder has returned to form, as he looks to build on his sophomore season.
On defense, Margot glides to the ball in the outfield with such grace and elegance. He has only played center field in his time with the Padres in 2018, as he provides plus defense and an above average arm in a very pivotal position. Having him solidify the middle of the diamond with exceptional defense is a great thing for the Padres moving forward.
The swing is improving, though Margot will probably never be a huge power threat. He uses the whole field with his level swing. Spoiling pitchers’ pitches and battling at the top of the order is what he brings to the team. Having him bat ahead of the likes of Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers is a great thing for the club.
In speaking to Andy Green about Manuel Margot and his hot streak, he had this to say on Monday. I first asked him what he attributed to Margot’s recent success. “His work with Matt Stairs and Johnny Washington was big. He also made some physical adjustments in the batter’s box. It has put him in a better position to hit… His natural abilities are coming out, now.” Margot does look very comfortable in the box presently, and the results speak for themselves.
I asked Andy if he thought the 95 mph fastball in the ribs at the beginning of the year had an effect on the youngster. “No, he was scuffling before that. That gave us an opportunity to begin the discussion (about adjustments in the box). After that, he began to hit his stride and feel better physically. There is no fear in Manny. I don’t think getting hit bothered him at all. Ultimately he has just made some real positive adjustments in the batters box.” Margot has really improved and is very productive at the top of the order for the Friars.
I enjoy hearing about players from their teammates. They see each other on a daily basis and have a real feel for who they are as players. I had the opportunity to ask Travis Jankowski about Manuel Margot. Travis started out with this. “Manny is a gamer. He goes out and plays his hardest everyday. Early on in the year when he wasn’t getting hits, he still made an impact of the team in a positive way. He goes out there and you know that you are going to get 110 percent from him. He has the ability to bunt now (which he has been working on) and if he can get the third baseman in, it will only benefit him. He has all the tools for success. It is now just about expanding those tools and getting even better.” Very high praise from a player who is essentially battling Margot for playing time. In speaking to Travis, he is not concerned about that. It is all about the team.
The Padres are certainly pleased with Manuel Margot’s growth as a player. In baseball, you will definitely go through very rough times in your career. It is the players that are able to shake off a rough patch and grow that become special men in the game. Margot still has some growing to do as a player, but he is showing some early signs of understanding the game and possibly taking his game to the next level. This is very exciting for the team.