Half of the baseball season has come and gone. It’s time to look at how the Padres hitters have fared so far in 2019.
For a sport that has 162 regular season games, it always seems to go too fast. With half of the season done with, this is a good time to take a step back and evaluate the season as a whole, not just one good or bad week or month. Let’s give out midseason report cards to the starting lineup and bench players (Padres hitters with at least 100 plate appearances).
What hasn’t been said about Fernando Tatis, Jr.? He’s one of the clear contenders for National League Rookie of the Year, even with having missed a month of the first half of the year. He has been everything the Padres could have hoped for and even more. He dazzles fans daily between his hitting, fielding, and base running and just his overall charisma and character. Among Padres hitters with at least 180 plate appearances, Tatis leads the team in batting average (.327), OPS (.981) and wRC+ (156). He also is tied for the team lead in stolen bases with nine and is second only to Manny Machado with a 2.2 WAR (via Fan Graphs). He is second among National League rookies in WAR and third in OPS and wRC+. He has been a spark plug at the top of San Diego’s lineup.
Clearly, Hosmer was eager to have a bounce-back season after a disappointing inaugural campaign with the Padres last year. Still, he started slowly in April, leaving Padres fans restless and nervous for another disappointing year, batting .252 with a .750 OPS in that first month. Since then, he has hit .298 with a .790 OPS and 111 wRC+, hitting seven home runs. It looks as if the odd-year trend Hosmer has created throughout his career is ringing true once again, as he is now batting .281 this season with 12 home runs through the team’s first 80 games. It took him until August 17th to hit his 12th home run last year. Hosmer’s biggest critique last year was his ground ball rate, which was second in all of baseball at 60.4 percent. This season he has that down to 57.4 percent and has also increased his line drive rate by almost two percent.
Expectations were sky high and rightfully so when Manny Machado shocked the baseball world and signed with the small-market San Diego Padres before the start of this season. Like Hosmer, Machado got off to a sluggish start, perhaps adjusting to a new home ballpark and a new league, hitting .236 with a .693 OPS in the first month. However, June has been a much different story as he has hit like vintage Machado for the entire month, with a .330 average, eight home runs, and a 1.060 OPS through June 26th. With this hot month, his overall numbers look Machado-like, with 17 home runs, a .280 batting average and .858 OPS this season. On the defensive side, Machado continues to be one of the best in the entire game. He manned two of the hardest infield positions in baseball, playing shortstop in the absence of the injured Tatis and displaying Gold Glove defense at third base otherwise. He has already made enough plays on both sides of the ball to make his own Padres highlight tape.
Renfroe is in the middle of his breakout season. After being selected 13th overall in 2013, some began to wonder if he would ever realize his potential. Wonder no longer. In the last two seasons, he has hit 26 home runs, but this season, just halfway through, he is already at 24, which leads the team. He has had several clutch hits already, with two pinch-hit home runs, one of them being a walk-off grand slam. He is starting to build a reputation as one of the most feared right-handed power bats among outfielders. He owns a 1.207 OPS against left-handed pitching. Defensively, he has shown much improvement as he has a solid three Defensive Runs Saved in the outfield to go along with his cannon of an arm. He still struggles with right-handed pitching on occasion but still has a .851 OPS and 17 home runs this season against righties.
Like Renfroe, Reyes has displayed impressive power this season, in his first full year in the big leagues. He is second on the team with 21 home runs, being apart of the first Padres duo ever to have 20 homers each before the All-Star break. He has been a bit more hot and cold than Renfroe. He has struggled more than usual in June, batting .231 with a .799 OPS and 102 wRC+. Reyes is fourth on the team in OPS and wRC+. Something Reyes needs to improve on is taking walks as he is walking at a 7.3 percent rate, which is seventh on the team. He has posted -2 Defensive Runs Saved in the outfield, which is slightly below average. He is always a threat to leave the ballpark. If he is on his game, it’s fun to watch. Consistency is key for a player like Reyes.
Myers has been bounced around the outfield this year, playing 49 games in left field and 41 in center. It’s tough to prove that this has had an effect on his hitting, but he has not been himself at the plate for much of the season. He has gone from average to bad to worse in the three months of this season so far. He hit .248 with five homers in April, and it has gone downhill from there, hitting .199 with a .699 OPS in the 48 games since May 1. He currently leads the league with 97 strikeouts and is well below his career batting average, OPS and wRC+. In the outfield, he has played respectably with an even zero Defensive Runs Saved as a left fielder and has a -5 DRS in center. His bat has been practically nonexistent in June, with a .188 average with one home run and .604 OPS this month.
Kinsler came to the Padres with the expectation that he would fill the gap at second base until Luis Urias could take over. After a dreadful start that drew the ire of Padres fans, with a .133 batting average in the first month, he has picked up the pace. He is now batting .313 with a .790 OPS and 111 wRC+ in June. He will never be the four-time All-Star caliber player he once was, and it’s showing this year, with a .225 average and .671 OPS. The clock is ticking and the time will soon come where he is replaced by Urias. If he can build off of his strong June and not taper off, he will keep his job for now. He is dead even at 0 Defensive Runs Saved at second base so far this year defensively. The leash on him has slackened a bit with a strong June, but overall, his numbers leave much to be desired.
Hedges’ defensive prowess is well-documented. His 17 Defensive Runs Saved leads all catchers in the major leagues behind the plate and masterfully manages the pitching staff. That has never been the problem. The big question has always been: can Hedges hit enough to merit an everyday starting job? Now in his third full season as the Padres’ main backstop, the question may finally be getting answered. Hedges has struggled to keep his batting average over the “Mendoza Line” of .200. His strikeout rate of 32.3 percent is the 12th-highest in all of baseball and his .191 batting average is one of the worst in the league among hitters with at least 150 plate appearances. His calling card on offense has been his power, but this season, he has just six home runs. The only things that keep him from a failing grade are his elite defense and 1.3 WAR (Fan Graphs).
Margot has been the better defensive center fielder between him and Myers, with 0 Defensive Runs Saved compared to Myers’ -5. However, at the plate, Margot has not instilled fear in any pitcher. So far this year, he is batting .241 with a .632 OPS and 70 wRC+. His 5.6 percent walk rate leaves much to be desired. He has split time with Myers in center, starting only 38 games this season, much due to his offensive slump. He has found a better swing in June with a .270 average but not enough to merit his bat be in the lineup every day, with the bats the Padres have on hand.
Garcia was brought in to be a utility, plug-and-play guy and he has done everything the Padres have asked of him. In a reserve role, Garcia is batting .267 with a .781 OPS and a 109 wRC+, which is perfectly acceptable for a platoon player. He is hitting .250 with five pinch-hits when coming into the game as a substitute. He has played every infield position as well. His OPS is better than that of Wil Myers and Ian Kinsler. With Kinsler’s early-season struggles and Tatis’ injury, Garcia has filled in nicely when needed. Every good team has a player like Garcia, and the Padres should be happy with what they have gotten out of him so far.