The San Diego Padres sit with plenty of options at second base this coming season.
With the recent acquisition of veteran Brian Dozier and the variety of moves San Diego has made this winter, the Friars have some decisions to make at second base, and more than one outcome could benefit the squad.
At this point in the spring, nothing is set in stone. Dozier only just made his Padres debut in Thursday’s spring game. The options include- Dozier, Jurickson Profar, Greg Garcia, Jake Cronenworth, Ty France, Breyvic Valera along with non-roster invitees Esteban Quiroz, Gordan Beckham, and Seth Mejias-Brean. The calendar has not yet turned to March. Thus every position battle is very much unsettled. We will explore all of the possibilities the Friars have in front of them at second base and the likelihood of each.
Jurickson Profar every day
If you could read the minds of the Padres brass, it would reveal that their preference is to have Jurickson Profar firmly take hold of the job with a strong spring. Profar only just turned 27 less than two weeks ago but has just one season left on his contract. His upside and projections over the next two seasons are likely higher than any other option on this roster, especially as a former number one overall prospect.
Being a switch hitter, the Curaçao native offers a skill set no other infielder San Diego likely is considering for their Opening Day roster and could match up well against right-handers or lefties. In at least part of six seasons in the big leagues, he has a higher OPS against righties than against southpaws but has vast experience against both, to some moderate success. 2018 was his best year, his last season in Texas, with a .793 OPS and 107 OPS+ overall.
During that year, the splits against each side were almost dead even, with a .792 OPS against right-handers and .795 against lefties. If he can recapture his 2018 self, he will be a legitimate weapon. The Padres would likely love to avoid a platoon if at all possible, which frees up an extra roster spot to offer support elsewhere.
This is now Profar’s third organization since signing with the Texas Rangers as an amateur free agent in 2009, and each year, the team waits for him to realize that immense potential. If the Padres somehow catch lightning in a bottle, that could flip the season in an incredible direction.
Brian Dozier every day
Of all the possible options at second base, Brian Dozier certainly brings the most name recognition and career accomplishments. The Mississippi native was an All-Star in 2015 for the Minnesota Twins and has hit at least 20 home runs in six straight seasons, including 42 bombs in 2016. Only former MVP Jose Altuve (insert asterisk) has more fWAR among second basemen since 2015. He received MVP votes in 2016 and 2017 when he hit a combined 76 home runs with a .871 OPS, 130 OPS+, and 10.7 WAR in those two seasons.
Time has passed between then and now. Father Time seemed to creep into Dozier’s career in the past two seasons, with a .225 average, .728 OPS, 91 OPS+, and 1.8 total WAR over that span.
The big question mark will be Dozier’s ability to hit against right-handed pitching. The splits between facing righties and lefties are cavernous for Dozier, and it has gotten worse with age. Last season, in 482 plate appearances, he hit .280 with a .900 OPS against southpaws while batting .221 with a .719 OPS against right-handers.
If Dozier can improve his numbers against pitchers of his same handedness, the 32-year-old will have little trouble locking down the every day second base job.
As mentioned, Dozier hits lefties very well. He is a career .270 hitter against southpaws with a lifetime .855 OPS. Having him face dominant lefties of opponents’ pitching staff will be a great equalizer for San Diego.
Profar is not atrocious against left-handers, with a lifetime .246 overage and 96 OPS+, but his splits favor facing right-handers, which is fortuitous for the Friars if they want to platoon the two.
When San Diego faces a lefty ace, which they definitely will in their division (see Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner), Dozier can be penciled into the lineup to neutralize the threat. Then, once a dominant righty comes out of the bullpen, Profar can take his hacks.
The situation is flipped when the Friars face righty starters like Jon Gray or Walker Buehler as Profar can get the start until a tough lefty comes out of the ‘pen for Dozier to make a dramatic, late-game pinch-hit appearance.
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