Wil Myers’ Value Could Increase with Move to Third Base

Credit: MiLB

Arguably the Padres’ best hitter is eligible to return from the disabled list on August 13th, and when he does, it will be a very interesting time for his team.

Will his manager give him a shot at playing the hot corner?

He has been taking more grounders at the position since hitting the shelf with a bruised foot, and there has been significant speculation as to how legitimate the idea of playing the twenty-seven-year-old at third base really is for the Padres. Andy Green hasn’t said anything serious enough about the idea to realistically think there are very high chances of Myers getting to try out there when he returns.

Yet the intrigue is surely there for the Padres, especially in a year when they’re only winning 39.3 percent of their games, and their current starting third baseman has a 74 wRC+ since the start of May. As a team that is clearly rebuilding and trying out rookies through August and September, there has never been a better time for the Padres to let a guy like Wil Myers play third base.

With a general manager like A.J. Preller at the helm, the team could easily push to try to contend in 2019 with an aggressive offseason. That would make the end of 2018 the Padres’ last good chance to see if Myers could play a new position, such as third base.

If Myers could stick at the position defensively, his value would increase significantly. It would be the most important defensive position he’s played throughout his career in the major leagues, so he could be providing the Padres with a really nice bat at the hot corner. What third basemen could Myers compare to offensively? The results are pretty interesting, and Myers is in good company among players who play the position and produce similarly with the bat to Myers.

Here are the two closest third basemen to Myers by wRC+:

Player wRC+ ISO
Wil Myers 125 0.244
Anthony Rendon 124 0.220
Kris Bryant 129 0.197

That’s pretty good company to have, in former NL MVP Kris Bryant and star third baseman for the Nationals, Anthony Rendon. Myers hasn’t hit as well as the other two guys throughout his career, but he has hit for more power than them this season, which is impressive. His all-fields approach has been quite useful this season, and he has been much improved in comparison to last season. It’s looking like Myers’ bat is here to stay, and if he plays third base — look out, because his production on offense combined with him playing a more premium defensive position would make him significantly more valuable to the Padres than he is now.

Credit: MLB.com

Obviously this is an ambitious undertaking if the Padres decide to let Myers try his hand at the position, so let’s assume that he would be playing slightly below-average defense at third. Myers has certainly improved his defense in left field this season, and has been worth 2.3 runs above average on defense according to Fangraphs. He was worth -4.5 runs in his 2015 work in the outfield for the Padres, so there’s statistical evidence that he’s capable of improving.

Maybe the beginning would be rough with Myers playing third base, because it would be a very new position for him. The work he’s put into improving his defense is evidence that he could become a decent third baseman in the future. The Padres would seem at least somewhat interested in letting him try to improve his defense at the position for the last couple months of the 2018 season.

This is already a guy who has hit exceptionally well for the Padres, and figures to be one of their best hitters for a long time. He is signed through 2023, so the team clearly views him as a centerpiece of the next contending Padres team. With the large number of talented outfielders the Padres have been splitting playing time between, it would allow all of them more playing time if Myers moved to third base. We’re talking about guys like Travis Jankowski, Franchy Cordero, Franmil Reyes, and Hunter Renfroe. Despite all showing flashes of stardom, none of the aforementioned outfielders have really gotten enough everyday at-bats to get fully comfortable in the major leagues.

If the Padres could let Myers try out at the hot corner for a while, it would eliminate the need to play Christian Villanueva and his struggling bat so often. Villanueva would be a very interesting pinch-hitter, especially against lefties, who he hits really well. Maybe Myers would be a disaster at the position, and it would be an experiment that quickly ended. That’s fine if it happens, because the team would simply be exploring whether or not he could play there in a lost season. If the Padres want to get even more out of one of their brightest stars, they should consider the idea of playing Wil Myers at third base.

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Conrad Parrish
Sophomore at Willamette University in Oregon. Majoring in Spanish and Psychology, but also a writing center assistant for other students at school. Been a Padres die-hard my whole life, and hope to bring comprehensible statistical analysis to the site.

This article has 8 Comments

  1. Wil Myers is NOT a 3rd baseman…nor should he be compared to a Kris Bryant or Ben Zobrist. Wil’s problem is more akin to the spoiled child who gets away with a piss poor attention span. A guy getting paid 80 million dollars, is NOT supposed to open his trap to say things like “I get bored playing OF”…or “Im not a leader..Im not interested in being a leader on the field or the clubhouse”. OK, fine…there are other guys like that, too. But we the fanbase, who purchase tickets to come to see the games he falls asleep in or gets hurt in whenever the wind blows….do not want to hear a multi millionaire telling us what he does and does not want to do. He will fail @ 3rd base..and thats all I have to say.

  2. Interesting article. It seems the main point of the article is to increase Myers’ value for a trade. I’m all for that, or just to free up the money that is due to him, yet over a period of years where he will likely be frequently injured and on the DL. So, even if he were average or better defensively at 3B, playing him there–which would include more sudden movements, jarring actions (diving, etc), more strain on his arm, etc–would greatly increase the frequency of his injuries and DL trips, EVEN MORE THAN NOW. The best case scenario is/was 1B for Myers. How can we make that happen? On a separate, yet related note, what is the likelihood that if Myers and Hosmer were put through waivers (as many teams do in August or September) that another team would risk making a claim? I’d say less than 5% for Myers, and ZERO percent for Hosmer. How embarrassing that is for Preller, his two biggest moves, and he can’t even get another team to take these players off his hands for free! Also, what are the chances, if that happened, that the Padres would let them go for nothing, as they did with Ross and Lyles?

  3. Why not take a look at Franchy at 3rd also.. he was a shortstop coming up.. would be a smoother transition for Cordero than Myers in my opinion.

    1. That is a very interesting thought. If I recall, he had an extremely high number of errors at shortstop, but would 3B and a few years of maturity make the difference?

      1. The smaller ground Cordero would have to cover at 3rd would help cut down the errors he had at short. Also, the experience he already has playing that side of the infield helps. Great arm, very athletic still young. Just saying why not take a look.

  4. Totally agree, the team should try Myers at 3B. It would solve a number of issues.
    I like the thrust of this article, and I get it that you are a Padres fan. But it simply is not correct to call Myers an exceptional hitter. His career slash line is .255/.329/.444 . That is more meh, especially for a corner defender.
    3B is indeed an important defensive position, though the club did try Myers in CF in 2015. Probably you, like me, are trying to block out that memory. So maybe he hasn’t improved in LF but just moved to a position more in line with his abilities. It just isn’t useful to draw conclusions about a new Myers based on 44 games this year. It’s too small a sample size.
    And I wonder if Preller still regards Myers as a corner stone player. After all he did sign Hosmer to replace Myers at 1B and as clubhouse leader just one year into the extension. A more likely scenario is that they are very open to trading him. If he can handle 3B then it’s win-win-win. His trade value goes up, the team improves at 3B, and there’s playing time for Cordero in the OF. If he bombs at 3B, then nothing is lost.

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