The 2017 Padres season, in a way, was better than expected.
While the Padres posted an unimpressive record of 71-91, this year’s campaign was full of excitement in the form of young, talented players performing well and giving the fans hope for the future. While countless writers and analysts virtually confirmed that the Padres would not win more than 50-60 games at the maximum, the team exceeded expectations while also assisting in the development of the talented young prospects that call the Padres home.
Look at it from whichever angle you’d like – the Padres still view all-star first basemen Wil Myers as the face of the franchise. The former A.L. Rookie of the Year, Myers is an extremely talented player, and someone who A.J. Preller and company will continuously try to build a championship team around. A combination of a solid glove, matched with a powerful bat and above-average speed, make Myers a threat in all aspects of the game.
However, this previous season was not kind to the North Carolina native. After inking a six-year extension in this previous offseason, Myers disappointed Padres fans in 2017. Myers posted a measly .243 batting average and a below-average .792 OPS. Combine those numbers with 180 strikeouts to 70 walks, and only 138 hits in 567 at bats, and you can see why some may view this previous season as a disappointment from Wil Myers. Let’s take a look at the positives, negatives, and the outlook for the Padres’ young star.
If there’s one thing that is truly great about Wil Myers, it’s how truly powerful this man can be. Standing at 6’3” and 205 pounds, Myers has the athletic build of a power hitter. His long arms allow great extension, and his quick hands let Myers drive through the baseball, leading to the power that he has. In his first true seasons with the Padres, Myers has hit 58 home runs while driving in 168 runs. Combine that with 58 doubles and seven triples, and you have yourself a well-rounded offensive player. His 2017 home run distance average sat at 410 feet, while Myers also had an average exit velocity of almost 90 mph. While he may not be an all around great hitter, Myers truly has above-average power.
After watching Wil Myers play almost every game since he’s been on the Padres, his speed continues to amaze me. Other than Paul Goldschmidt or Eric Hosmer, not many first basemen can run as well as Wil Myers can. His speed has allowed him to stretch hits that look like singles into doubles, as well as doubles into triples. Over the past two seasons, Myers has stolen 48 bases on 60 attempts. His speed also aids him defensively, as the former outfielder can get to balls and back to the bag better than other first basemen. Being as athletic as he is, Myers has a serious advantage over the average major league first baseman.
Spreading the Ball:
In his 2016 season, Wil Myers was one of the best players in all of baseball when it came to spreading the ball across the field. One of the biggest concerns about Myers this year is that during his mid-season slump, Myers was becoming heavily pull-happy. When he was having success, both early and towards the end of the season, Myers was using all areas of the field to his advantage. Just by looking at his previous spray charts, you can understand how good Wil Myers truly is at moving the ball. This is essential as a hitter, as some of the greatest hitters of all time have proven to us baseball fans that using the whole field is necessary. What is even more amazing about Myers is that he can hit the long ball to literally every part of the field, something that very few players can do in baseball. If he can harness his ability to continue spraying the ball, Myers will consistently have success as a major league hitter.
Lack of Patience:
Every single person that has ever played baseball has struck out before. It happens to everyone. While it does occur to more people rather than others, whether you strike out comes down to mostly two things: patience and plate discipline. Do some pitchers have just absolutely incredibly dirty pitches that may seem impossible to hit? Of course. But it would not be a bad assumption to say that most of the times players strike out due to a lack of patience, which leads to bad plate discipline. My biggest concern with Wil Myers is that he is not the most patient player. What I mean by this is that Myers does not wait for his pitch, and sometimes swings at pitches that a hitter as talented as he is should not be swinging at. We can all remember a time in which Myers needed to get a base hit at some point this year, and he would end up striking out on a pitch that he has no business swinging at. You don’t believe me? Look at the numbers. Myers has struck out 340 times while walking only 139 times in the previous two seasons. Other than Trevor Story, Wil Myers struck out more times than every other hitter in the National League. Increasing his plate discipline will lead to more walks, allowing Myers to get on base more often and producing run scoring opportunities for the rest of his teammates.
As Padres fans, many of us were probably calling for Myers to win the N.L. Gold Glove in 2016, and were heartbroken when former Padre Anthony Rizzo won the award over Myers. His near errorless 2016 season was followed by a disappointing 2017 season, in which Myers made eight errors, and at points looked completely lost over at first base. Can we cut him some slack? Sure. Prior to the 2016 season with the Padres, Myers had only played the outfield. His transition to first base was incredible, but even then, he is still adjusting to the tremendous difference between the outfield and first base. While the move back to the outfield is something that is not completely out of the picture due to talented first base prospects, for now, Myers is the everyday first basemen on a young team that is going to need him to perform at a high level. Defense wins championships, and having a cornerstone first basemen is something that every solid defensive team needs. The ceiling is endless for Myers as he is just simply that talented of a player, and all of us hope that he can figure it out defensively.
One of the most frustrating thing as a baseball fan is watching a player that you truly love go through one of the worst mid-season slumps that you have ever seen. As a baseball player myself, I promise you that it is even more frustrating as a player to have to experience that in the middle of a long season. Wil Myers is a perfect example of a player like this. Through the first month and a half of this previous season, Wil Myers looked like he was going to be one of the best hitters in the league. This explosion was followed by one of the worst slumps I’ve seen in quite a long time, leading to Myers being switched around the lineup constantly, and even leading to him being benched a few times. I remember watching these games and getting excited when he would just get on base. That’s how bad his slump was. Myers has had this happen to him before, starting out the 2016 season very slow and then absolutely catching fire in June and July. Being a streaky hitter in the MLB is something that will never lead to success, as consistency is one of the biggest keys to being a successful hitter. Myers is a very talented player, but his inability to be consistent is something that we should all worry about.
While Myers did have a quite disappointing 2017 season, it would be wrong to say that Myers is only going to go down from here. He’s only 26 years old, and is just entering his prime years. The best thing about Myers is that his potential is through the roof, and we have seen this multiple times. He is a young, power hitting, athletic first baseman that spreads the ball well and has shown flashes of being a plus defender. Is he still a little raw? Sure. But one thing is for sure: the star power is there and has been put on display before. Just this previous April, Myers looked like one of the best hitters in all of baseball en route to National League Player of the Month honors. He is the centerpiece of this rebuilding Padres team, and as the leader of the team, Myers is going to need to lead by example on and off the field. Myers has the ability to return to his all-star form in 2018, and I would not be surprised if he does.