Reality Check for San Diego Padres

Credit: USA Today Sports

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Do the Padres really have “elite outfielders” like A.J. Preller recently indicated? Let’s take a look at the numbers and see for ourselves.

“Other clubs know we have some elite-caliber outfielders,” San Diego Padres’ general manager A.J. Preller told Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune at FanFest.  Apparently, this assessment has been one of the obstacles to filling a huge void at third base or adding a veteran starting pitcher. Even more disconcerting, the claim that the Padres actually have elite outfielders does not stand up to examination.

The definition for elite, according to dictionary.com, means “the choice or best of anything considered collectively, as of a group or class of persons.” A quick check of FanGraphs and Baseball Reference indicates that none of the Padres’ players who roamed the outfield either most or parts of 2018 (Wil Myers, Hunter Renfroe, Franmil Reyes, Travis Jankowski, Franchy Cordero) would be objectively considered elite.

None of them come close to Mookie Betts or Mike Trout, who are almost exclusively considered the top outfielders in the sport. According to FanGraphs, Betts had a WAR of 10.4, and Mike Trout a WAR of 9.8 WAR last year. By that measurement, Wil Myers and Hunter Renfroe led the Padres at 1.6 WAR, followed by Franmil Reyes 1.2, Travis Jankowski and Franchy Cordero 1.0, and Manuel Margot 0.6. Three pitchers (Craig Stammen 2.3, Robbie Erlin 1.8, Kirby Yates 1.8) actually led the Padres.

According to Baseball Reference, Betts (10.9 WAR 186 OPS+) and Trout (10.2 WAR OPS+199) also led the pack. How does that compare with Padres outfielders? With an OPS+ of 100 considered average, both Margot (1.5 WAR 86 OPS+) and Jankowski (1.1 WAR 90 OPS+) would be considered below average. Renfroe 2.4 WAR OPS+119, Reyes 1.6 WAR 130 OPS+, Myers 2.4 WAR, OPS+109 Cordero 0.5 WAR 105 OPS+ (139 plate appearances) would be considered somewhat above average, but hardly approaching an elite level.

In Rotoworld’s 2019 Outfielder Rankings, Matthew Pouliot chooses Trout, then Betts, to again lead baseball, followed by players like Aaron Judge, Charlie Blackmon, and Giancarlo Stanton. Padre outfield candidates rank in this order: 24th Wil Myers, 26th Margot, 70th Cordero, 96th Renfroe, 113th Jankowski, 146th Reyes.

Credit: Andy Hayt/Getty Images

Defensively, three of the Padres’ possible outfielders (Myers, Margot, and Jankowski) perform well, although not at a Mookie Betts level. As judged by FanGraphs, Betts is worth 20 DRS (defensive runs saved) and 21 UZR/150.

Myers (in left field) at 4 DRS, 15.6 UZR/150, Margot 9 DRS 1.5 UZR/150, and Jankowski 2 DRS 5.9 UZR/150 compare somewhat favorably to Trout’s 8 DRS 5.6 UZR/150. Also, according to Statcast catch probability OAA (outs above average), Margot ranked 6th and Jankowski 17th. However, Reyes, a very large human, had poor defensive stats of -1 DRS -11.7, as did Cordero -6 DRS -17.3 UZR/150, and Renfroe 2 DRS -0.9 UZR/150.

Hanging on to all these not-so-elite outfielders simply does not make sense. Reyes’s size and poor defensive showing make him an obvious candidate for an American League team in need of a designated hitter. His ability to make adjustments makes him even more attractive. Yes, Reyes has become a fan favorite. However, improving the overall quality of the team on the field and its ability to compete will please fans far more. Renfroe has proven to be a two-tool player thanks to his power and his strong (but not always accurate throwing arm) and could also be more useful in the AL.

Of course, the trade market has been stone cold for the second year in a row, at least in part because of the uncertainty over the ultimate destinations of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.  Still, the Padres have appeared regularly in trade rumors regarding one or more of the outfielders on the roster, but San Diego has passed on any possible deals. If Preller and the Padres actually do consider this outfielder corps to be elite and worth hoarding, they’re frankly fooling themselves.

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Diane Calkins
Baseball has been a part of Diane's life since her father played professionally (mostly at the minor league level). She has written for a number of publications and concentrated on companion animal welfare. She welcomes the opportunity to write about the sport she loves. Diane shares her home with her husband and a house full of rescued animals.
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The dude
The dude
3 years ago

Trade Myers along with Reyes, Yates, Hedges and Lauer. Get Nolan Jones(3B), and Kluber. Not sure how much we’d have to eat, maybe $15-$20 mil. Flip Kluber for Thor. Flip Jones(20 yrs) and Baez for Senzel Trade for Sonny Gray Trade Stammen for OF prospect Sign Harper 10/350 Payroll would be around $150 Lineup Tatis Urias Harper Renfroe Hosmer Senzel Mejia Margot Rotation Thor Gray Luccessi Mitchell Allen/Paddack Bullpen Perdomo Diaz Maton Wingenter Stock Erlin Strahm This is a team that can HIT. I’d prefer to keep Reyes but he’s just too big to play RF long term. I’d love… Read more »

Diane Calkins
Diane Calkins
3 years ago
Reply to  The dude

Wow, You’d make Trader Jack McKeon look really conservative. Just a couple of thoughts: unless the Padres eat a bunch of salary Myers is untradeable; Thor isn’t going anywhere; be careful what you wish for if you trade a young defensive wizard behind the plate.
Thanks for taking the time to comment.

the dude
the dude
3 years ago
Reply to  Diane Calkins

Is that a lot of trades?? Well apparently that’s the only way we can get players that we don’t draft or sign off the scrap heap! Machado and Harper are sitting there and we aren’t signing either of them let alone any top free agents. So ya, trading appears to be the only means to acquire better players. THe Mets would take Kluber over Thor this year and the next three. He gives them a better chance to win the World Series with his availability and experience. Hedges is the last one I’d trade. If he can hit .250 and… Read more »

Koob
Koob
3 years ago
Reply to  The dude

In you rotation, who is Mitchell? It better not be who I think it is other we can’t take anything you type seriously..

The dude
The dude
3 years ago
Reply to  Koob

The same Mitchell that will be on the club either way so it makes sense to give him one last chance to see if he’s a viable starter. This team still has a year, maybe two left to see what sticks

Tanned Tom
Tanned Tom
3 years ago

Another strong article, and one that saves me from a lengthy comment. 🙂
You also hit the nail on the head about Myers, he is not a winning player, but rather coasts on his talent.
What I don’t understand is why the Padres aren’t in on Machado and Harper (the need is clear and there’s payroll room). Payroll is about $95 mil and we can’t expect to compete for much less than $150 mil, so we should be in on top-ten position players aged 26.

Tanned Tom
Tanned Tom
3 years ago
Reply to  Diane Calkins

Too late, what with Hosmer and Myers. Better to spend $30 mil for a star, which we do not have, than to spend it on several meh players, of which we already have enough. No need for a DJ LaMahieu for example.

Rob
Rob
3 years ago

Appreciate the article. But…….I don’t think AJ is saying the Padres outfielders are comparable to Mookie Betts and Mike Trout (as you suggest). If they actually were, would he be trading ANY of them???? Anyway….our GM should be asking for maximum value out of other teams, for our players, don’t you think? I’m not always in agreement with AJ (see Myers trade from late 2014….uuuggghhh). Still, you have players such as Renfroe and Reyes that have shown they are making adjustments at the plate and both produced over the last few months of the season. I am quite certain, when… Read more »

matt
matt
3 years ago

I do not blame A.J. for trying to negotiate by starting out high on his own players. That is the smart way to go, however it may be difficult to convince other G.M.’s hence that is why we have not seen enough movement. Our three best outfielders are Reyes, Myers and Renfroe. Renfroe must be left, Reyes in right and barring an incredible spring by Margot, Myers in center. Cordero and Janakowski are backups and late inning defensive replacements. In my opinion, Margot is trade bait along with either Yates or Stammen , plus one lower level minor’s player for… Read more »

Koob
Koob
3 years ago
Reply to  matt

I think Matt nailed. Do we have a trout or Mookie? But we have a couple players that have the POTENTIAL to be a Staton (Reyes) or a Trout ( franchy) what you want to sell other GMs on however feel like Preller prefers to hold onto those two and trade any of the others. Like everybody is typing Myers is the soar thumb out of the group, he would ever just stay healthy and live up to his potential it makes it much easier to trade one of our other 4 elite OF ?

Greg Hoadley
Greg Hoadley
3 years ago

Good article. I had the same thoughts when I heard what Preller said. The only two I see with elite potential (the latter being the key word) are Franmil and Franchy. There is lots of raw talent, but neither can be said to truly have arrived — though I think Franmil is closer.

ButchJeffries
ButchJeffries
3 years ago
Reply to  Greg Hoadley

I think Franchy’s penchant for swinging and missing will hold him back. Myers has more talent than all of them and is very frustrating.

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