Padres Editorial: Optimizing the Padres 2016 Lineup

Mandatory Credit: UT San Diego
Mandatory Credit: UT San Diego

With the San Diego Padres season dwindling toward its end point, there is no better time than now to start looking forward to 2016 and how the Padres lineup will be constructed.

The Padres have been both consistent and inconsistent up and down the lineup throughout the season due to both injuries and up and down performance. Certain positions have seen more turmoil than others, however there has been some consistent performers for the Padres both throughout the season and more specifically in the second half.

In order to optimize the Padres lineup for 2016, the front office must take a look at the performance of each player currently on the roster and decide who fits best at what position and which positions are most in need of some sort of offseason upgrade, either via free agency or via a trade. What follows is a position by position appraisal of the Padres options that are currently on the roster and a short discussion on potential offseason targets for each position that the Padres may need to upgrade.

Catcher:

Options:

Derek Norris .252/.300/.410 wRC+= 97 2.2 WAR

Austin Hedges .159/.204/.222 wRC+= 15 -0.5 WAR

Perhaps the biggest positional debate among Padre fans is whether Austin Hedges or Derek Norris should be the Padres starting catcher moving forward. Obviously Hedges has been poor at the plate but his defense alone warrants having him in the lineup as much as possible. On the other hand, Norris has improved his defense quite a lot in 2015 and is currently a much better offensive player than Hedges is. For this scenario the best option is keeping both guys in the lineup on a daily basis by moving Norris to first base. This allows Hedges to shine defensively at catcher and keeps Norris€™ bat in the lineup. Most likely what will happen is Hedges will remain the backup and Norris will be the starter or one of the two will find themselves in a new uniform this offseason.

1st Base:

Mandatory Credit: UT San Diego
Mandatory Credit: UT San Diego

Options:

Yonder Alonso .282/.361/.381 wRC+= 110 1.1 WAR

Derek Norris .252/.300/.410 wRC+= 97 2.2 WAR

Wil Myers .264/.345/.448 wRC+= 123 0.8 WAR

Matt Kemp .265/.312/.445 wRC+=109 0.4 WAR

Brett Wallace .326/.383/.570 wRC+= 163 0.8 WAR

Of all the positions on the diamond the Padres clearly have the most potential options at first base. While Yonder Alonso has gotten a majority of the playing time in 2015, his injury troubles and second half struggles may have lost him the starting job going forward. Beyond that, Norris remains an option at first should the Padres decide Hedges is ready for a full-time catching job. Either Myers or Kemp could move from the outfield to first base in order to optimize both the offensive setup and defensive setup for the Padres. Finally perennial pinch hitter Brett Wallace could be given the chance to win the position outright in Spring Training next season. While it looks like Wil Myers will likely be the favorite to play first base in 2015, both Derek Norris and Matt Kemp would be better fits for their own specific reasons.

2nd Base:

Jedd Gyorko .247/.298/.407 wRC+= 96 0.9 WAR

Cory Spangenberg .258/.318/.384 wRC+=96 1.5 WAR

Free Agent/Traded Player 

Throughout 2015 there have been questions about who should be the Padres starting second baseman and who should be the backup. Jedd Gyorko was the starter for the first part of the year before losing the job because of poor performance. Following an injury to Spangenberg, Gyorko regained his position as the starter and has held onto throughout the second half of the season. In terms of the offensive statistics, despite a second half surge by Jedd Gyorko, Cory Spangenberg has been the more consistent player at the plate and has also shown a more all around game with both strong defense and speed on the bases. It is possible the Padres look outside of the organization to find some help at shortstop and second base but it seems likely that both of these players end up in the starting lineup one way or another.

Shortstop:

Jedd Gyorko .247/.298/.407 wRC+= 96 0.9 WAR

Free Agent/Traded Player

Of all the positions on the diamond for the Padres, the shortstop position is the one that is most clearly in need of an upgrade in 2016. This would obviously come most logically from outside of the organization. With names like Ian Desmond and a few others set to be free agents, and guys like Jose Reyes clearly available on the trade block, the Padres should consider all options when planning for next season. Despite this, the most likely option at this point seems to give Gyorko the chance to be the full-time shortstop while either allowing Spangenberg to continue to play 2nd base or upgrading that position instead.

Mandatory Credit: UT San Diego
Mandatory Credit: UT San Diego

3rd Base:

Yangervis Solarte .274/.325/.433 wRC+= 111 1.8 WAR

Will Middlebrooks .212/.241/.361 wRC+= 63 -0.4 WAR

Free Agent/Traded Player

Despite a strong second half to 2015, it still seems unlikely that Yangervis Solarte is a full-time third baseman for the Padres long-term. With the struggles this season of Will Middlebrooks, Solarte took the job and kept it for a large portion of the season. Despite some strong numbers, the Padres best option at third base is looking outside of the organization at some potential free agent options or potential trade acquisitions to better this position. At the end of the day, Yangervis Solarte will most likely win the starting job, although the Padres should attempt to find someone else instead.

Left Field:

Justin Upton .252/.338/.456 wRC+=120 3.4 WAR

Wil Myers .264/.345/.448 wRC+= 123 0.8 WAR

Hunter Renfroe .333/.358/.633 wRC+=158 

Free Agent/Traded player

More likely than not, Justin Upton will not be a Padre in 2016. This leaves the job to either Wil Myers or Hunter Renfroe in my book. If Myers doesn’t work out at first base, or if someone like Norris or Kemp moves there instead, Myers will most likely be shifted to one of the corner outfield positions, with left field being the most likely option. However, if Myers does end up at first base next year, Hunter Renfroe does have a chance at winning a starting position in the outfield next year depending on his performance in Spring Training. With uncertainty still surrounding Renfroe a€™s future, the safe bet here is Wil Myers in left field for 2016.

Center Field:

Mandatory Credit: Getty Images
Mandatory Credit: Getty Images

Melvin Upton Jr.  .243/.310/.411 wRC+= 99 1.3 WAR

Travis Jankowski .227/.250/.333 wRC+= 60 0.0 WAR

Free Agent/Traded Player

Beyond the shortstop position, the Padres could really use an upgrade at the center field position. While Melvin Upton has been a revelation this year due to his performance that has far exceeded any expectations, it is still hard to trust him as an everyday player going forward. The other main option on the roster is Travis Jankowski who has flashed some brilliance in his short stint with the big league club but has not shown enough to warrant a starting job in 2016 at this point. The Padres would be wise to consider options outside of the organization such as Denard Span or Dexter Fowler but it seems likely that the Padres may end up going with a platoon of Upton and Jankowski for 2016.

Right Field:

Wil Myers .264/.345/.448 wRC+= 123 0.8 WAR

Hunter Renfroe .333/.358/.633 wRC+=158

Matt Kemp .265/.312/.445 wRC+=109 0.4 WAR

Another position that is dependent on how a few other positions play out is right field. If Wil Myers ends up at first base, Matt Kemp will obviously be the one to stay in right field. If Kemp is convinced, or forced, to move to first base Myers may slide back to his natural position in right field. A third option is moving Kemp to first base and keeping Myers in left in favor of Hunter Renfroe in right field due to his stronger throwing arm. While defensively the best option is clearly Renfroe in right, Kemp at first, and Myers in left, I highly doubt Matt Kemp agrees to move to first base and he will likely remain in right field for the foreseeable future.

Manager:

At this point of the season it seems pretty obvious that Pat Murphy will not return as the Padres full-time manager in 2016. With this in mind, the Padres have several different directions they can go in to lead the team for 2016 and beyond. One option is promoting Dave Roberts from his current position of bench coach to the Head Coach. As a former player this may be a good call but I don’t see that happening just yet. Another option is Mark Kotsay, who is the current hitting coach. For similar reasons to Roberts, I can’t see this happening.

Two candidates from outside of the organization who could be good fits are former Padres player and current Diamondbacks Triple A manager, Phil Nevin, and longtime former catcher Todd Greene who is currently working in the front office of the Diamondbacks as both an assistant to the general manager and as a scout. Both of these former players have received glowing reviews in their current positions and both good be in line for a managerial job sooner rather than later.

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Patrick Brewer
Editorial and Prospect Writer for East Village Times. Twenty-five years young, Patrick has lived in San Diego for his entire life and has been a Padres fan nearly as long. Patrick lives for baseball and is always looking to learn new things about the game he loves through advanced stats.

2 thoughts on “Padres Editorial: Optimizing the Padres 2016 Lineup

  1. 1. Why is Gyorko at shortstop the most likely scenario? I would love to fill that position internally, but I just don’t think that Gyorko has the defensive chops to play ss.

    2. And why is Solarte not a lock for 3b? What has he done to disappoint in 2015?

    1. 1. Based on the last month or so, it seems they are really pushing the idea of Gyorko at shortstop going forward. Also looking at the free agent shortstops it seems to be slim pickings. Although i still could see them acquiring Jose Reyes or Starlin Castro or even throwing money at Ian Desmond.
      2. Solarte is having a great year but I am still not sold on him being an everyday player going forward. He has proven me wrong this season quite a bit though so its still a possibility if they cant upgrade from outside the organization

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Patrick Brewer
Editorial and Prospect Writer for East Village Times. Twenty-five years young, Patrick has lived in San Diego for his entire life and has been a Padres fan nearly as long. Patrick lives for baseball and is always looking to learn new things about the game he loves through advanced stats.