The Wil Myers’ Experiment at Third Base

Credit: AP Photo

Since the Padres traded for Wil Myers in 2015 he has been a bit of a nomad, moving from position to position almost year to year.  So far he’s started at all outfield positions, first base and most recently third base.

Myers has had little experience at third in his career, so he’s basically learning on the job at the major league level, hardly the ideal situation.  However, the Padres have a .393 winning percentage and sit at 30 games under .500. The daunting learning curve hardly matters.

The experiment hit bottom (one hopes) on August 30 in a 2-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies in 13 innings. Myers made three errors (one throwing, two fielding) and went 0-5 at the plate.  Before that he’d made only two errors in his 12 starts since coming off the disabled list August 13

 Disabled list stints have been another factor in Myers’ tenure with the Padres.  He’s been bedeviled by injuries.  This year the season had barely begun when he went down with a left oblique injury (April 4-20).  He played in only a few games and landed back on the DL with the same complaint April 29 and didn’t return until June 21.   On August third he went down after fouling a ball off his left foot but was back on the field after 10 days.  To add to his lousy luck, on August 22 Myers took a ball to the face during batting practice but sat out only a couple of days.

Frustration with his entire situation may have played a part in Myers’ recent complaint about doing fielding drills often confined to spring training.  That complaint. which focused on Green and was shared with at least one other player, just happened to be live streamed.  So, of course, it went viral.  Reported on multiple platforms from the local newspaper to ESPN, Myers actually said that his manager “could not be any worse than he is right now.”

On Monday, Myers told reporters that he regretted his remarks and apologized to Green, obviously horrified that his comments became public knowledge.  Actually, the extra fielding drills didn’t just include Myers but other players including pitchers.  The coaching staff has been rightly concerned about shoddy fielding including pitchers not backing up bases.  At times, Padres’ games have had more of a Little League than big league feel about them.

Green, one of Myers’ biggest fans, has said repeatedly that he has the skill to play just about anywhere.  However, Myers’ history says otherwise.  In his first year, Myers did not dazzle anyone with his defense in 298.2 innings in center field.   According to FanGraphs, he rated -7 DRS, -11.2 UZR/105.

However, when Myers’ made the move to first base for the 2016-17 seasons, he may not have reminded anyone of Adrian Gonzalez, but he certainly held his own.  For those two years, he had nine defensive runs saved and UZR/150 of 7.5 in the first year.  Inexplicably, the latter fell to -7.5 the following year.

Then Eric Hosmer, a first baseman by trade, arrived.  Myers became a man without a position.   When he has been healthy this year he has played right and left field but only sporadically, thanks the Padres’ plethora of outfielders including Manuel MargotFranmil Reyes, Hunter Renfroe and Travis Jankowski, each of whom has unique talents.

Rookie Christian Villanueva started the season at third and looked to be the real deal—for about a month. His 20 home runs kept him at third despite 12 errors in just 96 games.  When the Padres decided to try Myers at third, they moved Villanueva to second.  Unfortunately, he broke his right middle finger trying to field a routine ground ball and will most likely not return this season.  So third base belongs to Wil Myers.

Since he has made it clear he finds the outfield “boring,” he must welcome an opportunity to regain his place in the infield even if across the diamond.  The Padres’ farm system may have plenty of talent but very little at third base, so Myers will obviously be given a long leash.  Even more importantly, he is signed through 2022.  His contract starts to ramp up next year but reaches $22.5 million for the 2020-2022 seasons.   The team needs him to earn that salary, the largest in Padres’ history next to the Hosmer deal.

And the Padres could definitely use Myers’ bat, which surpasses his glove work.  In his major league career, he has a cumulative batting line of .254/.328/.441/.769 with an oWAR of 9.6 and dWAR -2.9.  Plus, he had his healthiest seasons at first base, so this move may improve his chances of actually playing rather than sitting.

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1 thought on “The Wil Myers’ Experiment at Third Base

  1. I agree the team will be patient with the learning curve here. But maybe they shouldn’t be. Myers bat does not really play at any of the corner spots. An OPS of .769 is mediocre for LF or RF, and for 3b or 1b. The last 3 years in the ML the average OPS has been .729, .750, and .739. These numbers include pitchers, glove first middle infielders and catchers. His .769 is slightly above average, but below what is expected from his positions.
    Add to the equation his bloated extension and you have a below average player at a near elite salary. Turning 28 this off season he is no longer baseball-young. And his attitude strikes a fair number of people as immature. This is the very definition of a player who should be traded.
    The problem is that people around the sport have wised up and no longer pay for this skill set (well, Baltimore still does). So the question becomes not should he be traded, but where can he be traded?
    1) To a team that has a hole at 1b and is looking to move a 3bman. Good luck with that.
    2) As a bad contract swap. Blech.
    3) Eat some salary and move him for a high upside prospect or two, ala the Shields trade.
    Unappetizing options all, but the time has come to move on from underachievers.

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