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.
Although I believe Murphy’s struggles in 2019 came primarily from his injured finger and being rushed back too quick from that…
I still think we should give the bulk of 1B duty to RyMac when Rodgers is ready. The way he hits the ball hard gets huge Josh Bell vibes from me.
I’m right there with you. To be honest, I’d rather they just swap out now and put McMahon at 1B and Murphy at second. If McMahon is looked at as the long term option at first, he should be moved there ASAP. If not, he should be traded now. According to mlb.com, the Rockies currently have three of the top 10 first base prospects (Toglia, Nevin, Lavigne) in the minors, so they have replacements ready. Of course, having three of the top 10 first base prospects in MLB is something that shouldn’t ever happen, especially with such a weak overall farm. But that is another argument.
Agree totally, Bridich should also be replaced as GM. Montfort needs to bring in someone from outside the organization.
I like bcraw
Brandon Crawford…. officially clocked last July as the slowest ( non – catcher ) position player in MLB. Slow and fat with a weak bat and a declining glove. He’s dreadful
That stat is bogus and you know it
Machado is sitting pretty right now putting up decent numbers. He could hit .275+ and steal 10+ bags when he tries. Too bad he’s locked in that huge contract. Surprised Hosmer and Pollock aren’t on this list.
Hosmer is Hosmer and could be on every “needs comeback” list. Pollock had a good second half and a dreadful playoff series. Still think he will get back to decent, if not good.
maybe pads need a good hitting coach more than anything.
They seem to try a new hitting coach every year
Bold prediction: Peralta going to have the best season of anybody on that list.
I was expecting all 6 to be on the giants
You need talent to have bounce back candidates.
“the Giants lol” lol
Peralta extension is three years not two
Hoping Posey, was having a great spring training
So was Crawford
Kike had ~50 more ABs vs RHP in 2019 compared to 2018 and 50 fewer vs LHP. For somebody who has had platoon issues, that’s not an insignificant difference.
giants number 1 fan
Profar. He would be my bench option. I don’t believe he is a starter.
Machado never could hit in pitcher’s parks. Now he’s at Petco half the time.
He can’t hit in general
Kikè is a clown. Ready for him to leave the Dodgers.
Particularly dumb comment.
Machado was having a good year, but fell off in the 2nd half. Sounded like some was his conditioning since his focus this offseason was working out more.
Conditioning? He’s no Johnny Hustle.
I love the optimism of these articles. We have to have a season, before we start rating players’ potential performances.
Righty specialist, lol as in clown funny. Funny like a clown. Clownish.
I seriously can’t believe The A’s got more than a bag of used balls and a broken fungo for Prosuck. The guy was a complete mess in the field with a Knoblauchian case of the yips. If it wasn’t for Matt Olson the guy would have broken the ML single season record for errors.
but but but… HIS POTENTIAL!
Angels & NL West
Peralta signing looks like another brilliant move by Hazen and co. Dbacks aren’t loaded with superstars, Marte the possible exception, but they are above average in every phase of the game. And they are loaded with starters. Hazen and Lovullo are proving to be a great duo.