There are still San Diego Padres fans who want to talk about Trea Turner and all the success the young man has enjoyed in the 2016 season. His major league career has started off well and you really cannot ignore the numbers he has put up so far.
The Padres made a choice and they moved Turner in December of 2014 to the Nationals in a three-way deal. Wil Myers was the major acquisition of the deal and most Padres fans are not dwelling on Turner, although he is the shortstop the ball club desperately needs. Wil Myers has silenced most talk, as he has produced in 2016, and done it with a smile on his face.
Prior to this year Myers was labeled injury prone despite being 24 years old. His wrist issues were concerning, but the Padres had faith in the young man. After an offseason wrist surgery, Myers has responded by playing in 153 of the Padres 159 games this season. There is no more talk of his wrist and his injury concerns. At the age of 25 he is poised to have a very productive major league career.
Myers brings a rare combination of power and speed. His power is certainly developing and the speed that he has is often over-looked. He can flat-out fly. As you remember, the Padres even attempted to make him a center fielder last year. He had the speed for the position, but lacked the natural ability to get positive jumps on the ball off the bat. It was to be expected, but if you ask me, he played a decent center field considering his experience there. I wouldn’t want to see him out there again though. Thankfully, with Travis Jankowski and Manuel Margot both with the club, Myers rare outfield appearances will be in a corner position.
The fact that Myers so willingly moved to center, and then first base, tells you what kind of player he is. As a young star, he could have easily made a fuss about another position change. Myers said nothing and worked his tail off. Young players took notice of that, and with that he has become a silent leader. Much the way Tony Gwynn led the Padres, Myers prefers to go about his work rather than be very vocal. That is perfectly fine. A great team needs players like that. Young players respond to players who perform like that. Myers is clearly someone the club needs to build their team around. The Padres realize that, and he should be playing at Petco park for a long time. That brings joy to all Padres fans. Myers is a keeper.
This 2016 season was a disappointment in many ways. There is no way to sugarcoat it. The club stumbled early and veteran players were moved as the club started a rebuilding phase, though not a traditional rebuild, as the club had many young players on the cusp of being ready to play in the majors. Nevertheless, the Padres moved expensive players like James Shields, Matt Kemp, Fernando Rodney and Melvin Upton Jr. for young prospects, or in Kemp’s case, to save salary for the future. Most Padres fans understand the club is positioning themselves and the moves were not totally money related. Hunter Renfroe has given us a preview this week of why Kemp had to be moved. The youth needs to play if the Padres want long-term success. Veterans should be the last players added to a Championship team, not the other way around.
Wil Myers leads the youth movement. He is the face of the franchise and has only scratched the surface of what he is capable of doing. The future is very exciting for this ball club with Myers in the middle of the lineup. Let’s take a look at him and his 2016 season. There is always room for improvement with any ball player. As in any major league season, there are positives and negatives. Learning from that is what will lead to success in the future. Thankfully Myers’ positives far outweigh his negatives.
The ability to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season is really special. He hasn’t done it yet, but he is so close that it is worth discussing. We are talking Mike Trout type of ability. Myers, with more consistency and a better approach at the plate, could easily eclipse the numbers he has put up this year. That is a scary thought. Playing first base allows his legs to remain fresh which has helped him on the base paths. As Myers gets older he should lose some speed, but with that the power numbers could spike. You are looking at a potential 35+ home runs annually from this young man. Enjoy the speed for now, as Myers shows no signs of slowing down.
Health & Attitude
Playing nearly every game this year was a huge accomplishment for Myers. There are no more questions about his ability to stay healthy. Playing first base helps alleviate injuries to a certain degree, but the move was not entirely needed. Myers made the move with ease and not one single complaint came from this young man. His demeanor on the field exemplifies how you should play the game. Wil has fun out there and enjoys playing the game. After all, the mega business that is Major League Baseball, is just a game.
At first base, Myers has certainly looked comfortable since the very beginning of his tenure there. Initially when he started playing first he resembled a veteran of the position, which was unusual since he had no playing time at the position previously at the pro level. He picks the ball with ease at first and has shown great range on ground balls. It has been a pleasure seeing his growth on the field as there were some questions heading into the season about his abilities. There are no questions now as he is a gold-glove caliber first baseman who can play an above average corner outfield if needed. It will be interesting to see how manager Andy Green utilizes him in the future.
With 157 strikeouts in 577 at bats, Myers does indeed have a need to get better in this area. He has walked 67 times resulting in a .337 on base percentage, but you have to figure Myers has given away dozens of at bats during the course of the 2016 season. From time to time he looks lost at the plate and appears to be guessing, as I’ve witnessed him taking a fastball for a called strike three many times. The young hitter has a great ability to use the whole field so there isn’t any reason why he cannot improve on his numbers. A little more cultivating of his craft and we could see something really special with this young man. He does need to stay consistent, which brings us to his next fault.
Simply put, Myers is way too streaky. Being consistent is what makes a good player… a great player. Looking at Myers breakdown month by month this season, you will notice he was hot and cold virtually all season long. After hitting .302 in April, he hit .229 in May, then promptly followed that up with his best month in professional baseball. Myers had a slash line of .327/.429/.765 in 98 at bats. He slugged 11 home runs and drove in 33 runs while also hitting 10 doubles, resulting in a 1.194 OPS+ for the month. If he can put up numbers like that for a whole season, he will be one of the best players in the game. The problem is he followed that career month with a .226 July and a .216 August, with little to no production. He has picked it up this month, hitting .250 with five homers and 19 RBI, but there is still room for improvement. Imagine what a consistent Myers would do offensively?
The outlook for 2017 is absolutely great. With a more consistent lineup around him he could be in store for another hugely productive year. Hunter Renfroe looks to be the real deal, and having him protect Myers in the lineup will be crucial. Table setters Travis Jankowski and Manuel Margot will hit in front of Myers and we will have plenty of opportunities to drive in runs. The Padres are turning the corner as far as being a legitimate major league franchise. These next few years are going to be really fun to see, and Wil Myers will be leading the way.