Padres 2018 Player Grades: Position Players

Credit: Padres

Credit: USA Today

OF Manuel Margot – 519 PA, .245 BA, 8 HR, 51 RBI – Grade: C

2018 was a disappointment for Manny Margot in a year where many thought he would make the leap to the next level. He got nailed with a fastball to the ribs pretty early on in the season and subsequently struggled following a DL stint. He heated up alongside the weather in the summer, but cooled off well before the temperatures did. That was a completely unnecessary analogy used to essentially say that Margot struggled for a good portion of the season. Statistically, he took steps back across the board. On the bases, he was nothing short of a disaster. At the plate, he looked out of sync. But he played his usual rangy defense in center and is still just 24 years old, so he very much has a future with this team. He may just have to fight a bit harder for it than most of us anticipated in 2019.

C Francisco Mejia – 58 PA, .158 AVG, 3 HR, 8 RBI – Grade: Incomplete

Mejía only saw action big-league action in 20 games in 2018, so a traditional F-through-A grade wouldn’t be appropriate. He provided some electric moments–walk-off grand slams and two-homer debuts tend to do that–but he also showed that he has a lot to improve upon. It’s entirely possible he has the worst plate discipline of anyone in the Major Leagues, and his catching instincts still lag far behind his cannon arm. He does, however, possess unteachable bat speed and All-Star potential. Mejía should start every day for the Padres in his first full season in 2019.

OF/3B Wil Myers – 343 PA, .253 AVG, 11 HR, 39 RBI – Grade: C+

In case you checked out around All-Star break, you read that first part right. Third baseman Wil Myers. He made starts at first base, third base, left field, center field, right field and designated hitter in 2018, in addition to missing just under half the season due to an assortment of injuries. The Padres value Myers’ bat enough to yank him around the diamond just to keep him in the lineup, but truthfully, he didn’t have a spectacular offensive year. And his defense at third base was about as bad as you’d expect. Three-error games, grounders to the face, all of it. The outfield situation projects to be equally as crowded in 2019, but Myers is still extremely talented and is capable of playing All-Star-caliber baseball. We just need to see it for a full season.

2B/OF Jose Pirela – 473 PA, .249 AVG, 5 HR, 32 RBI – Grade: C-

Pirela, arguably the team’s best hitter in 2017, didn’t do a whole lot of note in 2018. His defensive versatility is probably his biggest strength, but nothing about his overall performance this year screams “starter.” He’s under team control for 2019 but is also quickly approaching 30 years old without a clear path to consistent at-bats. I wouldn’t expect Pirela to be back.

OF Hunter Renfroe – 403 PA, .248 AVG, 26 HR, 68 RBI – Grade: B+

If Freddy Galvis was the 2018 Team MVP, Renfroe was certainly this year’s Most Improved Player. He hit .43 points higher against righties this year as opposed to last and rode a blistering finish to a career year. I have been critical of Renfroe in the past, but it certainly looked to me like he turned a corner towards the end of the season; I now fully expect Renfroe to be that legit middle-of-the-order threat for the Padres that we all expected when he was drafted 13th overall in 2013. Winters in baseball are always unpredictable, so it’s possible AJ Preller cashes in on the trade market when Renfroe’s value is at its highest, but don’t count on it. Renfroe could easily hit .270 with 40+ homers in 2019.

Credit: AP Photo

OF Franmil Reyes – 285 PA, .280 AVG, 16 HR, 31 RBI – Grade: A-

Franmil Reyes was a revelation for the Padres in 2018. Underrated throughout his come-up in the Minor Leagues, Reyes finally got his big break this season and ran with the opportunity. So much so, in fact, that he gets the best grade of any Padres offensive player in 2018. Raise your hand if you predicted that in March. And if you have your hand up right now, put it down. Stop lying. I don’t expect Reyes to hit .280 next year, but I could certainly see 35+ homers (hopefully with some guys on base this time) in a full season’s workload, a workload that he has earned and should receive in 2019.

IF/OF Cory Spangenberg – 329 PA, .235 AVG, 7 HR, 25 RBI – Grade: C

Spangenberg followed up a surprisingly solid season in 2017 by being just okay in 2018. He can play all over the diamond, provides decent pop at the plate and good speed on the bases, but doesn’t have a true, go-to tool. He also caught the strikeout bug that was apparently going around the Padres clubhouse, punching out at an abysmal 33% clip. Defensive versatility is probably the only thing keeping Spangenberg on a Major League roster at this point, although that roster may not be the Padres in 2019.

2B Luis Urias – 53 PA, .208 AVG, 2 HR, 5 RBI – Grade: Incomplete

Urías is in the same boat as Mejía here; 53 plate appearances is not nearly enough to generate a fair assessment of his 2018 season. A pure hitter much more in the mold of a Dustin Pedroia than a Dan Uggla, Urías has a real shot to be a .300 hitter in the Major Leagues. His advanced plate vision was on display in his short stint in San Diego, as was his defensive prowess and sneaky power. A hamstring injury cut an already short season even shorter for Urías in September, but he should maintain a firm hold on the second base job in 2019 with a chance to develop into an All-Star at some point.

3B Christian Villanueva – 351 PA, .239 AVG, 20 HR, 46 RBI – Grade: B-

All things considered, Villanueva had a very respectable rookie season. Despite the rapid increase in long-balls across the Major Leagues, 20 bombs in 351 plate appearances is still nothing to scoff at, and he made incredible strides defensively as the year progressed. He’ll have to improve his contact rate and plate discipline moving forward, and it remains to be seen whether he is part of the Padres’ future–Preller’s free agency plans at third base will have a lot to do with that–but Villanueva established himself as a legitimate Major League third baseman in his age-27 rookie season.

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Brady Lim
Born and raised in San Diego, CA. Currently living in Eugene, OR as a junior at the University of Oregon. Journalism major, Padre fan, music lover. Attended my first Padre game at the Q in 1998 when I was three months old. Follow me on Twitter: @BradyLim619.

10 thoughts on “Padres 2018 Player Grades: Position Players

  1. Look at WAR. Hosmer gets -0.1 WAR.
    Look at wRC+, where Hosmer scores a 95.
    How can that not be an “F” year?
    Playing every day and sucking is not exactly a point in his favor.
    https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?
    pos=1b&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=y&type=8&season=2018&month=0&season1=2018&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0

  2. Galvis: Wow. I like Galvis, but have you watched Andrelton Simmons? They aren’t even close.
    Asuaje: moving to 3b? Not a chance. This guy will be DFA’d and taken off the 40 man roster.
    Hosmer: I almost stopped reading here. You are out of your mind if you don’t give the Ground Ball King an “F”. And please, be more diligent. Comparing Hosmer’s numbers to a league average that includes pitchers and glove first catchers and middle infielders is disingenuous. Compare his numbers to other 1bmen and he rates a failure. Plus for his refusal to change his swing angle to hit the ball in the air more often he rates a special citation. Something like “player most likely to be cut if salary was of no concern”.
    Pirela: I can leave a refrigerator out near 2b, then wheel it out to LF. Does that make the fridge defensively versatile?
    Villanueva: you must be watching a different game than I do. His OPS against lefties, in only 113 ABs, was 1.118 (!). His OPS against righties, .574. On what planet are these legitimate numbers? Rather this is a role player. RH bat off the bench, sometimes 3bman when Myers needs a day off or is moved to 1b when a lefty pitches.

    1. Your thoughts on Galvis, Asuaje, Pirela and Galvis seem to be a difference in opinion, so I don’t have a problem with anything you said there. But regarding Hosmer…I stated in the first paragraph that these grades were on a league-wide scale. I’m not going to then change that and rate Hosmer relative to first basemen only. He was not good, but to think he deserves an F is just not accurate. And to say he would get cut if his salary was of no concern…also not accurate. He played every day and hit in the middle of the order. He’s far still far and away the best option at first base on the roster.

    1. Pirela I see as about as average as it gets, hence the C-. For Margot and Myers, it’s certainly possible that I was too generous. It’s worth noting though, that Margot ranked as the 7th-best outfielder in the entire league in Outs Above Average. That’s got to count for something.

  3. “Expectations really hurt Hosmer’s grade here.” Ugh, this is so frustrating. There is such a lack of objectivity. Can we not just blame “expectations”? Can we not just say, “Hosmer is just not that good”?
    Speaking of not being objective: “Objectively, his numbers are certainly above league-average and probably deserve higher than a C, but for $20 million, that’s not going to cut it.”
    This is neither objective or accurate. As I pointed out in another recent article:
    mlb rumors states: “his .253/.322/.398 line ranked 5 percent BELOW LEAGUE AVERAGE, according to FanGraphs’ wRC+ metric”] … and … mlb rumors put it: “Hosmer had his high points as a Royal, including during a career-best 2017, but also posted A NEGATIVE fWAR over multiple seasons in KC. He just completed his third such season, recording MINUS-0.1 fWAR in 677 plate appearances.” [emphasis added]
    So, to say “his numbers are certainly above league-average” is far from reality, and to say “certainly” further decreases your credibility … and you also start this off by saying “Objectively”?!
    I appreciate your work Brady, as well as this article, but please don’t be a Hosmer apologist (or” basher”), just be objective and accurate.

    1. As for your perceived lack of objectivity regarding the expectations factor…I stated in the first paragraph that these grades take into account expectations, availability and improvement in addition to pure on-field production.

      Also, I’d like to see the link to that FanGraphs article you’re referencing. It brought up his .253/.322/.398 slash line, citing it as below league average. The league average slash line for 2018 was .248/.318/.409. His slugging is obviously down because he just didn’t hit the ball in the air, but that, to me, still looks to be above league average. It also, in the same sentence, cites wRC+, so which stat is that article actually referencing? Either way, still appreciate the love. I know you comment on almost every article.

      1. The grade is not my concern. It is the accuracy and objectivity, or lack there of. Are you still standing by the declaration: “his numbers are certainly above league-average”? His numbers were not average, not clearly above average, but “below average” … as is a negative fWAR.
        Here is the link: https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/10/progress-report-last-winters-richest-contracts.html
        Also, for what is worth, and when it comes to accuracy, you might have me confused with Tanned Tom. I do comment, but only on a select few articles.

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