The San Diego Padres continue to scuffle, failing to reach 70 wins this year — their sixth straight losing season — and finished dead last in the NL West for their worst campaign since 2008.
Finding bright spots on this squad is no easy task. But an obvious place to start is Wil Myers and his breakout campaign. Let’s dissect his 2016 season and look forward to 2017 for this budding star, who, by the way, is clearly not a Madison Bumgarner fan (see video below).
One of the most important takeaways from Myers’ season — from a keeper league perspective — is that he only appeared in 10 games in the outfield, likely losing his eligibility in most formats. So going forward he’s only first base eligible.
But after Myers finally stayed healthy enough to show us what he can do over a full season, the Padres need to lock him up long term. He’ll be arbitration eligible for 2017, and is due for a nice raise, so San Diego has to decide this dude is part of the future and work out a deal to keep him over the long haul.
Earlier this month, we talked about how we see Myers combining with Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot to form the young nucleus of this team for years to come. The Padres need to ensure that happens.
The good news is the Myers extension talks are already underway. He certainly deserves it after his first All-Star season is which he emerged as one of the top fielding first basemen in the game, finishing as a Gold Glove finalist and leading the position in fielding percentage.
But what about his progress with the stick? Myers teased us with his talent in just over a half season of his first big league action in 2013, but had struggled to build on that since given injuries and ineffectiveness. Having said that, he’s shown improvement as a hitter in each of the last two seasons, but really took off in 2016 despite a regression in his strikeout rate.
How about nearly 100 runs for a bad team? How about flirting with 30 homers and 30 steals? How about 94 RBI? Hell, Myers even doubled once in his three at-bats at the All-Star Game, played in front of his own fans.
One of the things that really helped was he stopped hitting so many infield flies, replaced by line drives. That’ll make a huge difference. Myers also showed he can do the little things properly as well as the things Fantasy owners love.
But there was definitely one quirk of his season that has us befuddled. Petco Park has traditionally been considered a serious pitcher’s park, right? Having said that, last year, it actually was pretty much middle of the road, leaning slightly in favour of hitters, but still proving on the difficult side in terms of power.
Yet Myers owned the park. At home, he hit .306 with 18 of his homers and 58 RBI. His OPS at home was 321 points higher than it was on the road. WTF? With just a .210/.284/.349 slash line away from home, Myers was a poor play on the road, if you had the flexibility to shift him out of your lineup when applicable.
Given that the opposite was true in 2015 (well, in a less pronounced way), we’re going to assume this was just a weird anomaly.
Entering 2017, he’s easily a top 10 first baseman, but the big question is: is the speed sustainable? Myers had never before had more than 12 swipes in any professional season, so it’s a reasonable question.
There’s definitely still room for growth in his BA, still middling at .259 despite two straight years of improvement. Nothing crazy here, but we could see him flirting with .270 next year given that his BABIP was a tad below his normal career level.
One other concern here: Myers began the season red hot, smacking five homers while batting over .300 in April before scuffling in May (.229 with just nine RBI). In June, he exploded (11 homers, 1194 OPS), but the rest of the season was mostly substandard (July: 695 OPS with nine RBI and August: 644 OPS with nine RBI, before a decent September: 774 OPS with five homers and 20 RBI).
His numbers look a lot different when you take out April and June, don’t they?
The Padres apparently will need to be blown away to consider any trade offers for Myers, and that’s a wise decision as this is pretty much his team now. Having said that, while there is plenty of possibility for further growth here, there are enough red flags (road play, cold streaks, regression of speed) for Fantasy owners to be somewhat cautious with their investment in this player in 2017.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below how you see Myers’ season playing out in 2017.