Padres PNO (Positives/Negatives/Outlook): Manuel Margot

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Credit: AP Photo

To say that Manuel Margot had a disappointing 2018 season would be an understatement. In just about every facet of the game, he regressed. The Padres’ front office has to hope the regression qualifies as a sophomore slump and that next year he bounces back.

Margot came to the Padres (along with Javier Guerra, Carlos Asuaje, and Logan Allen) via the trade that sent closer Craig Kimbrel to the Boston Red Sox in 2015. Margot signed with the Red Sox as an international free agent in 2011 and started his career with the Padres in Double-A. In 2016 he climbed the Baseball Prospectus rankings from 61 to 14 (right behind former Padre Trea Turner, the current shortstop for the Washington Nationals).

Thanks to a fastball to the ribs, Margot ended up on the disabled list early in April this year, but ended up playing in 141 games. Fellow outfielder Franchy Cordero took his place on the roster when Margot was injured. However, Cordero had his season cut short by elbow surgery for a bone spur.



Known for his speed and quick bat, the Padres didn’t expect much in the way of home runs from Margot, but had high hopes for doubles, triples, and stolen bases. The speedy center fielder ranks 25th in sprint speed at 29.4 feet per second, with Byron Buxton leading baseball at 30.5. Fellow outfielder Travis Jankowski comes in right behind Margot at 29.0.

In 2017, Margot hit seven triples (5th in the National League), and he had eight in 2018 (4th). He increased his total in doubles from 18 last year to 26 this year. Although he did steal 11 bases, he obviously has the capacity to increase that total considerably and to otherwise be a threat on the base paths.


The Padres ranked near the bottom in a wide variety of metrics, but fared well, according to Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). The team’s 49 DRS came in fourth in all of baseball, with Margot saving nine of those runs. However, those numbers pale in comparison to the leaders in defensive runs saved in center field. Lorenzo Cain has 20 with the Milwaukee Brewers and Ender Inciarte of the Atlanta Braves has 17.

According to Statcast, in 2017, Margot made 14.3% of 5-Star catches (those that have a 0-25% probability) for a rank of 12 in Major League Baseball, and 61.5% of 4-Star catches (26-50%) for a rank of 18. This year he made 10% of 5-Star (18th place) and 70% of 4-Star catches (9th) in 10 opportunities (Travis Jankowski made 71.4% of 4-star catches in 14 opportunities).

 2017 Season

In his first full year in the big leagues, Manuel played solid baseball with no prolonged slumps at the plate. He actually finished in sixth place the NL Rookie of the Year voting despite losing a month thanks to a balky knee and playing in only 126 games. He batted .263/.313/.409/.721 with an OPS+ of 91 and covered Petco Park’s spacious center field admirably, making several highlight reel catches.

(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)



Manager Andy Green started this season putting Margot in the leadoff position.  That experiment yielded a disappointing batting line of .222/.222/.333 in April. He found more success batting lower in the order. He surpassed most of his teammates (admittedly not a high bar) when batting with runners on (.304) and runners in scoring position (.313).

But on the whole, the Padres had a disappointing offensive season. Like many of his teammates, Margot flailed on pitches out of the zone. He hardly ever walked and specialized in weak grounders


Thanks to his speed, Margot should be capable of stealing at least 25 to 30 bases. Last year, he stole 17 bases and was caught stealing seven times.  This year he regressed, stealing just 11 bags. More alarming, Margot was caught stealing a whopping 10 times. His 50 percent success rate ranked last in all of baseball when compared to players with at least 10 tries.

Margot may have tied with other speedsters in the number of times he was thrown out, but those players had far higher success rates. Whit Merrifield of the Kansas City Royals led all of baseball with 45 stolen bases, while Billy Hamilton of the Cincinnati Reds led the National League with 34.

One of Margot’s major problems this year lay in attempting to run against the the wrong players, including both pitchers and catcher. However, Padres’ coaches, especially the first base coach (Skip Schumaker this year), share responsibility for the glaring weakness.

And then there were the confounding brain cramps, lousy choices in timing, and getting caught with too big a lead. At times, Margot appeared to need GPS, especially when he made inexplicably wide turns rounding second base. In fairness, Margot had company as the entire team went backward in base running, with Travis Jankowski (who had far fewer starts) being the lone exception.

(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)


A glance at Margot’s batting line month by month gives a puzzling picture of Margot’s season at the plate:

March .167/286/167

April .197/231/344

May 215/279/304

June .309/.378/.494

July .274/.326/.381

August .253/.242/.418

September .217/.276/.377

He ended the year batting .245/.292/.384/.675. Since 2015, when Margot played in just 34 games, his OPS+ has averaged 77. That metric declined from 91 in 2017 to 86 this year. Since 100 OPS+ is considered league average, this particular measurement is very troubling for a player considered to be part of the future.


Margot, who is just 23, has the tools to play at a much higher level. He can more fully utilize his speed if he chooses better spots in which to run. But he also needs to improve his focus so that he avoids being picked off.  Since speed never takes a day off and can change a game in a variety of ways, Margot needs to take advantage of that strength.

In Game 3 of the division series between the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers, Christian Yellich used his speed in going from first to home and scoring the first run. That set the tone as the Brewers went on to win 4-0. Margot could be just such a game-changer.

Obviously, the Padres’ outfield has an overabundance of bodies, and Cordero’s return will further complicate the picture. While the ball rockets off Cordero’s bat, his shaky defensive skills do not play well in center field.

The Padres’ front office has a myriad of decisions to make this offseason, including deciding which outfielders to move. Thanks to his speed, relative youth, and potential as a defender, Margot will surely be considered the top candidate to patrol center for the Padres in 2018. So far, Margot has just scratched the surface of his perceived potential.

6 thoughts on “Padres PNO (Positives/Negatives/Outlook): Manuel Margot

  1. I agree with Tom the Boston trade comes down to Allen at this point. Margot IMO could have been a much better player, but he was coddled too much, rushed to the big leagues and then left there even when it was clear he needed more time to develop. All because AJ Preller wants to show everyone how smart he is.

  2. The right way to handle Margot seems too obvious … at least the first step … send him to the minors (assuming he still has options). This was done with Renfroe, Spangy, etc. It should be done with any under-performing youngster (or oldster) who does not quite get it, with those who have the talent, but are not putting it together (for whatever reason). At a minimum this would hold back his clock (RE arbitration), not as a manipulative move, but as one that is best for him, the team, and it prevents Margot from taking playing time away from more deserving players (Franchy; Franmil; etc). Why, then, is this not discussed more often? Why isn’t this done?

    1. Thanks for reading EVT. It many ways sending Margot down to let him work on hitting and running the bases, etc. would make sense. However, Preller has been more likely to send the guys he inherited, Renfroe, Jankowski, et. al. than his guys. Like Gary, I wish Jankowski had gotten more playing time. The one season Travis played regularly he was outstanding, and he’s a better, smarter batter now.

  3. AJ Preller must be talking to himself. If not, he should. He wanted Margot to be the next, big star – HIS STAR! We all saw the favoritism Preller had towards Margot at everyone else’s expense. But did Margot want to be “the guy?” Apparently not. We know Travis is ready to patrol CF and given the chance, (but will he?) he would be more than fine – a lot better than Margot. Travis plays exceptional defense, he is a terror on the base path and best of all, he is a “winner” and a leader on the team. If the Padres stick with Renfroe and Reyes as their corner outfielders – something I hope they do, you can’t find a better CF to put between them than Travis. Not to mention, he’s a great lead off hitter too.

    1. Thanks for being regular readers and for the feedback. Travis Jankowski has been one of my favorite players since he first came up. He plays like his hair is on fire (unlike a certain superstar soon to be rewarded with a gigantic contract). He’s been the best batting lead off. This offseason will be very, very interesting.

  4. Good review. Margot is the guy we want to like, but he makes it hard. 2019 is probably his last shot as a starter. Jankowski is a better player, and Cordero could be. That trade with Boston really comes down to Allen, as the others have pretty much washed out.

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