The San Diego Padres offense has gone anemic, and Trent Grisham will be coming off the injured list in the nick of time.
From 2013 to 2019, the Padres ranked dead last in on-base percentage. Year after year, hitting coach after hitting coach, the Padres just could not get on base consistently. Thus they did not have a single winning season in that span.
In a year that was so weird and wacky, 2020 changed all that. Part of that complete change in philosophy and results came from the acquisition of Trent Grisham. The Friars sent Eric Lauer and Luis Urias to Milwaukee for starting pitcher Zach Davies and Grisham, a budding young outfielder who had not even had 200 plate appearances in the big leagues.
Right from the start, it was clear Grisham would be the starting centerfielder. Mostly, it was his glove and fielding ability that led to that decision. He ranks as the number one outfielder regarding reaction time per Baseball Savant. He also ranks seventh in the league in feet covered on average in the outfield as well. All of this culminated to him winning his first career Gold Glove and the first for a San Diego outfielder since Mike Cameron in 2006.
The Padres have been downright dreadful on defense through seven games this season. In fact, they lead all of baseball with eight errors thus far. So far, none of those have occurred in the outfield, but the Friars do rank 13th in outfield Defensive Runs Saved. A team with San Diego’s hopes and aspirations should be much higher.
Grisham is rumored to be returning to the Padres for the weekend series against the Texas Rangers in Arlington. Him patrolling the outfield would allow the defense to be more solidified, as it was in 2020. Tommy Pham will be able to play his normal spot in left field every day, and Jurickson Profar will return to his most useful role as a fourth outfielder and luxury off the bench.
Tingler says pretty strong chances Trent Grisham will be ready for the Rangers series, which starts Friday.
— Marty Caswell (@MartyCaswell) April 7, 2021
Offensively is where Grisham is needed most. The Padres got off to a hot start, winning their first three games by a total score of 19-9. However, in four games since, they have scored a grand total of eight runs. Some of that has to do with the team losing its heart and soul in Fernando Tatis Jr., who was placed on the 10-day injured list and may not return for some time. San Diego hitters just look less comfortable, antsier, less patient, and look to be pressing more, perhaps trying to make up the difference for losing their superstar shortstop.
As a result, pitchers get into more of a rhythm against them and pitch deeper into games. The Padres’ calling card in 2020 was patiently wearing the starting pitcher down until the opposition was forced to expose the underbelly of their bullpen. In the last week, that is nowhere to be found.
Grisham was smack in the middle of that attack in 2020. He led the team and was 17th in the National League with a 12.3 percent walk rate and posted a very respectable .352 on-base percentage, which would have led the entire Padres club from 2016 to 2018. In the entire league, Grisham ranked eighth in O-Swing%, which is, swinging at pitches outside of the strike zone, meaning he just doesn’t chase bad pitches. He makes the pitcher come to him, and then he makes them pay.
With his 2.5 WAR (third on the team only to Tatis and Manny Machado), 124 OPS+, high walk rate, and Gold Glove defense, the Padres likely do not host a playoff series in 2020 without Grisham’s contributions.
The Friars desperately need Grisham’s fire and patience near the top of their lineup. He batted leadoff or second in 45 of the team’s 60 regular-season games last season. Over the last week, the Padres have looked a shell of themselves at the plate. They need a spark, an injection of life into the anemic team, especially after receiving a gut-punch loss in Tatis.
Grisham is that guy, and he can start this weekend in his native Texas.