In 2015, Myers was the Padres’ starting center fielder on opening day; a position he never looked comfortable in.
He hit the DL in early May with tendonitis and missed a month.
He returned three days in June and then went back to the DL because his wrist continued to bother him. He eventually had to have surgery on his wrist to remove a bone spur irritation in the tendon. The fear that he wouldn’t be able to stay healthy was looking like a real possibility. He returned to play in early September, spending more time at first base, where he actually looked promising. In 60 games, he hit eight home runs, 29 RBI, and slashed .253/.336/.427.
At this point, nobody was mistaking him for a team leader. He was still a kid; under the wings of Kemp and Upton in the outfield. And then something happened prior to the start of the 2016 season that kicked Myers into gear. His breakout was about to begin.
In 157 games, in 676 plate appearances, Myers stole 28 bases (up from six in 2014 and eight in 2015), hit 28 home runs, drove in 94 RBI, and slashed .259/.336/.461. He put together a WAR of 3.2 (up from 1.1 in 2015). He was the opening day starting first baseman and held that position all season long with a .998 fielding percentage. He was named the N.L. player of the month in June during which he batted .327 with 10 doubles, 11 home runs, and five stolen bases.
His outstanding first half landed him a spot on the MLB All-Star team as the starting designated hitter for the National League. He also participated in the MLB Home Run Derby. As far as leadership goes, he was definitely growing into it. It seems that as his confidence in the game was increasing so was his willingness to step up as the face of the franchise. He took on the role of ambassador for the Padres during All-Star week and it suited him. Although he had gained the admiration of fans and the attention of the front office, during the second half of the season, he fell back to earth, which exposed some areas of needed improvement.
On the season, Myers walked 10.1% of the time and struck out 23.7% of the time. There wasn’t much variance from 2015 in which he held a BB% of 10.7 and a K% of 21.7. In the first half of the season he had a BB% of 9.5 and a K% of 20.6, while in the second half of the season he had a BB% of 10.8 and a K% of 27.6. That second half strikeout rate is just too high. Actually, his season strikeout rate is really too high and his walk rate is too low. He needs to make improvements on this if he wants to become an elite position player in MLB. For some perspective, in 2016, Anthony Rizzo had a BB% of 10.9 and a K% of 16 in 2016. Paul Goldschmidt had a BB% of 15.6 and a K% of 21.3. While Rizzo’s walk rate isn’t much higher than Myers’, his strikeout rate is much lower, and while Goldschmidt’s strikeout rate isn’t much lower than Myers’, his walk rate is much higher. In order to really become the asset that the Padres are hoping that he will become, he really does need to harness his discipline at the plate.
Myers has also acknowledged that in 2016 he made some mental mistakes. He admitted that after the all-star break he allowed his ego to set in and became somewhat complacent. He claims that this contributed to the wide disparity in his first and second half numbers. He hit 19 home runs with 15 stolen bases and a batting average of .286 in the first half and hit only nine home runs with 13 stolen bases and a batting average of .223 in the second half. Of course it’s prudent to note that 2016 was the first time that he surpassed the 100 game mark in a season with only three full seasons of MLB experience. It’s very likely that a lack of body conditioning led to fatigue, perpetuating Myers’ descent in the second half.
So is Wil Myers the face of the San Diego Padres? Here’s how I see it: On January 17, Myers finalized his new contract with the Padres who are paying him $83 million over six years; the largest contract in franchise history. If the Padres expect to begin winning in 2019 and Myers is signed on until 2023, it looks like he is definitely factored into the plans. He’s got an extremely likeable personality, and he always looks like he’s having fun on and off the field. He was a legitimate all-star last season, and he is showing signs of solid leadership development. In 2017 he has set a lofty goal for himself to steal 40 bases and hit 40 home runs. At the moment, he is batting .400 in spring training with two home runs and three stolen bases so he’s keeping up the pace. If you ask me, nobody could be a better representative of the Padres than Wil Myers. He is indeed the face of the franchise, and the San Diego Padres are surely pleased about that.