This offseason, the San Diego Padres introduced a new hitting coach. Matt Stairs, former Major League player and previous Philadelphia Phillies’ hitting instructor, was brought in to fill the vacancy the Padres had. His offensive philosophy is simple: get on base at a high rate and manufacture runs that way.
Stairs is a perfect fit for the Padres and has already been spoken highly of around the clubhouse. For a team full of inexperienced young talent, Stairs philosophy will hopefully improve the plate discipline and patience of these hitters.
The Padres buy into Stairs motives and have shown that they want to bring guys in known to get on base at a high clip. Former Padre himself, Chase Headley, was acquired from the Yankees for Jabari Blash this offseason. While his offensive numbers have been on the decline since he left San Diego, Headley has always had a knack for getting on base, posting a career .352 OBP. A patient veteran, Headley fits very well into Stairs’ offensive mentality. He knows what pitches he can and can’t do damage with, doesn’t strike out at a high rate, and is a solid situational hitter. While he is surely not the long term answer at third base, he should contribute to an increase in the Padres’ overall offensive production come the regular season.
The Padres made quite possibly the biggest splash in franchise history when they signed Eric Hosmer to an eight-year/$144 million deal.
Hosmer is a multi-dimensional player that has great success both offensively and defensively. Where he makes his money, however, is getting on base and moving guys over. Hosmer is a phenomenal situational hitter, sacrificing himself just to get other runners in scoring position. Only three players in all of Major League baseball have a higher ground ball rate than Hosmer, but he combines this excellent knack for not elevating the ball too much with power. He doesn’t strike out often due to a very disciplined and patient approach at the plate that led to his career high in OBP last season (.385).
The new franchise player, Hosmer is the absolute perfect fit for a Matt Stairs system. An unselfish player, Hosmer will do whatever it takes to put his team in a position to win by moving guys over or even just by getting on base himself. Expect him to be the lead contributor in what is expected to become an improved Padres offensive attack.
The Padres, as an organization, believe in what Stairs is doing with the team and fully expect it to work. As a whole, the Padres have a plethora of players that struggled with getting on base consistently last season – most notably, Wil Myers and Hunter Renfroe. Plagued by constant struggles with plate discipline and patience, the Padres hope Stairs can fix Myers and Renfroe’s approach that should ultimately lead to better overall offensive results for them. Freddy Galvis, who worked with Stairs in Philadelphia last season, has his own struggles. While Galvis does have some power to him, he strikes out a lot and does not necessarily get on base at a high rate. Getting another year with Matt Stairs, however, may change that.
Even though Matt Stairs is not working with them directly, this new offensive mentality is already affecting the Padres’ prospects and stars of the future. Working with him in spring training, these young players can get an inside scoop of what will ultimately lead to success for them at the big league level for years to come. Currently working with Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias, Stairs is surely trying to implement his philosophies with them and all the young talent scattered across the big league camp.
All of this is a process as the Padres are in no hurry to contend and should not expect to do so in 2018. However, the addition of Matt Stairs as the hitting coach and a completely new offensive approach surrounded around getting on base is certainly a trend in the right direction.