Our preseason series focusing on notable hitters and pitchers hoping to rebound from less-than-ideal 2019 outings wraps up in the National League West. We’ll start with six hitters who enjoyed productive 2018 campaigns before falling short last season…
Manny Machado, 3B, Padres:
By no means did the 27-year-old Machado perform poorly in 2019, his first season as a Padre. He just didn’t offer the type of production the team likely expected when it signed him to a then-record free-agent contract worth $300MM over 10 years. Whereas the four-time All-Star thrived with the Orioles and Dodgers the year before he joined the Friars, he has been more good than great in San Diego so far. Across 661 trips to the plate last season, Machado batted .256/.334/.462 – enough for a 108 wRC+ (he was at 131 in 2018). He did mash 32 home runs and finish in the majors’ 87th percentile in average exit velocity, but Machado struck out in nearly 5 percent more plate appearances compared to 2018. Furthermore, according to Statcast, Machado’s hard-hit percentage fell by just over 4 percent.
Jurickson Profar, 2B, Padres:
The former can’t-miss prospect finally looked to be turning a corner at the major league level in 2018, his last year with the Rangers. Unfortunately, though, Profar’s output tanked in his lone season with the Athletics in 2019. The 27-year-old switch-hitter could only muster a .218/.301/.410 line (89 wRC+) and 1.3 fWAR in 518 PA, and Statcast rated him near the bottom of the league in several important metrics. As a second baseman, Profar garnered all negative reviews (minus-15 Defensive Runs Saved, minus-3 Outs Above Average, minus-1 Ultimate Zone Rating). Still, the Padres are taking a chance on a bounce-back year for Profar, whom they acquired in a winter trade. The move reunited him with ex-Rangers executive and current Padres general manager A.J. Preller.
David Peralta, OF, Diamondbacks:
Peralta had a terrific year in 2018, smacking 31 home runs and accounting for 3.9 fWAR, but a nagging right shoulder injury prevented him from a proper encore last season. The 32-year-old wound up with just 12 homers in 423 plate appearances, in which he registered an overall line barely above average (.275/.343/.461 – good for a 107 wRC+), saw his isolated power number fall by 37 points and his expected weighted on-base average plummet by 49 points. Nevertheless, the Diamondbacks are giving Peralta the benefit of the doubt, evidenced by the two-year, $22MM extension they handed him in January.
Brandon Crawford, SS, Giants:
Crawford entered last year with six straight seasons of at least 2.0 fWAR, but he dropped to 0.4 in that category in 2019. Crawford hit just .228/.304/.350 (74 wRC+) in 560 PA, and even his well-regarded defense declined. For the first time in his career, the 33-year-old graded negatively in both DRS (minus-4) and UZR (minus-0.4). Not reassuring for the Giants, who still owe Crawford $30MM through 2021.
Enrique Hernandez, UTIL, Dodgers:
The versatile Hernandez was quite effective in 2018, during which he posted 3.2 fWAR, but that number checked in at a far less impressive 1.2 last season. The problem? A massive decline in offensive production. Hernandez’s wRC+ (88) represented a 30-point fall, while his OPS (.715; .237/.304/.411) lost 91 points. It didn’t help that Hernandez endured a 4-plus percent increase in strikeouts and a 3 percent decrease in walks.
Daniel Murphy, 1B, Rockies:
Count Murphy as another recent free-agent signing gone awry for the Rockies, who inked him to a two-year, $24MM contract in December 2019. Year 1, perhaps the weakest offensive season of his career, couldn’t have gone much worse for Murphy. The 34-year-old ’s .279/.328/.452 line doesn’t look terrible on paper, but when adjusted for ballpark, it only amounted to a wRC+ of 86. Murphy also had a miserable season in terms of Statcast output and recorded a negative fWAR (minus-0.2) for the first time ever.