Breaking Down the San Diego Padres' Platoon Candidates
There are a few key positions in the San Diego Padres’ lineup that will most likely be platooned for the majority of the season. The Padres are expected to try out and test multiple players at several positions to judge their future talent, especially because of relatively low expectations.
These platoons could work in the Padres' favor by starting a player most suited on that particular day, like if he’s on a streak or if he typically fares well against the opposing pitcher. However, platoons also mean none of the players really stand out enough to deserve the everyday starting job.
As Padre fans, we’ll likely see a platoon of some sort in the outfield, mostly right field, at second base and, for a brief time, at catcher.
Will Venable will most likely get the majority of starts in right field; however, his lack of consistent play and subpar hitting have brought other players into the competition to earn the starting job. In Venable’s five seasons on the Padres, he has averaged season totals of a .253 batting average, 14 home runs and 58 RBI—although those stats have been adjusted for a 162-game average.
In the past two years, he has failed to reach double-digit home runs despite playing a career-high 148 games last season.
Venable does have one asset that separates him from the other candidates: speed. He’s stolen 24 or more bases in the past three seasons.
Chris Denorfia and Jesus Guzman are projected to both receive a small share of the duties as well. And barring a spectacular spring training or injuries, Kyle Blanks likely won’t start many games.
Denorfia is probably the most consistent bat of the bunch. In seven years in the MLB, he has a .281 batting average. However, at 32, the Padres may want to focus on their future and younger talent.
Guzman has tremendous talent, but hasn’t had the chance to play every day and hone his skills. Blanks, despite many still having high hopes for him, will probably play in the minors to start the season. Along with the three aforementioned players, Mark Kotsay also blocks his path to a starting gig.
Logan Forsythe currently holds the starting job for second. However, with star prospect Jedd Gyorko making the move to second as well, this may end up being a platoon throughout the season. Both players are seemingly opposites of each other; one has great defensive skills needed for a middle infielder, the other has the game-changing bat the Padres desperately need.
Gyorko’s future will likely be decided by his play in spring training. If his defense improves to “bearable,” he could be in the starting lineup on Opening Day. Consistency has been a problem, though. In his first at-bat this spring, Gyorko hit a truly monstrous home run. Along with that gem, Gyorko added two more and was leading the MLB in home runs and RBI at one point this season, according to U-T San Diego. However, since the hot start, Gyorko has been relatively cold.
Depending on how the rest of spring Training goes, it could be Forsythe or Gyorko starting at second, with Alexi Amarista adding another name to the platoon.
Personally, I think the Padres should give Gyorko as much MLB time as possible. Though this will speed up his arbitration date, it’s important to develop their young talent so they can contend in a few years. It will also show Gyorko the Padres have the confidence in him to allow him to make his impact on the team and league.
A few months ago, this wasn’t even a question. However, that was before the news of Yasmani Grandal’s 50-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance. In just 60 games last season, Grandal made a substantial showing and amazed nearly everyone. If extrapolated to 162 games, Grandal would have hit 22 home runs and 97 RBI while maintaining an incredible .297 batting average. But let’s not cry over spilt milk.
The bulk of the catching will be given to Nick Hundley, who, despite some doubts, has been doing great this spring. If he can maintain this level of play until Grandal returns, the suspension may not hurt the Padres as much as previously thought.
The catcher position will still be somewhat of a platoon, with John Baker starting a fraction of the time. Neither are really adequate substitutes; unfortunately, there’s nothing the Padres can do for the first 50 games.
All statistics taken from Baseball-Reference
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