The Padres won their third straight game on Tuesday night and continue to be one of baseball's most compelling stories. Tuesday, I went through an Awards Watch and I've got them winning three of the four BBWAA awards in the NL (Fernando Tatis MVP, Jake Cronenworth Rookie of the Year, Jayce Tingler Manager of the Year).
There's been a lot of attention on Tatis -- rightfully so, as he might already be the single most exciting player in baseball -- and Cronenworth due to his rookie breakout. New addition Trent Grisham has been quite the find and Manny Machado being the hitter they signed him to be is easy to notice.
But let's not forget about Wil Myers. Tuesday, Myers clubbed two homers, including, yes, another Padres grand slam.
Slam Diego, indeed.
After hitting .239/.321/.418 last year, Myers is now hitting .297/.366/.607. The OPS+ has gone from 95 to 161. His career high in OPS+ is 131, from his rookie year all the way back in 2013. In 2018, injuries limited Myers to 11 homers and 39 RBI. Right now in 40 games, he has 11 homers and 30 RBI. Hell, he's got an outside shot at getting to his mark of 18 homers from last season and that came in 155 games.
What gives? Is it the ol' hitting is contagious adage? Launch-angle revolution? Nope on the latter, at least. He has the exact same average launch angle as last year.
It's simple. Myers is making a lot more contact than last season and he's hitting it hard a lot more often. He struck out 34.2 percent of the time last year, one of the worst rates in all of baseball. It's down to 24.8 percent this season. He's chasing fewer balls outside the zone and swinging-and-missing far less than in the past. Meantime, his hard-hit percentage is up from 41.4 to 46.7 and he's in the top nine percent in terms of how many times he's barreling up the ball.
That's a good formula for a turnaround.
It should be noted Eric Hosmer could be looped in here on the rejuvenated front, but he's now out 2-3 weeks with a broken finger.
In Hosmer's first two years with the Padres, he hit .259/.316/.412 (97 OPS+). In 31 games this season, Hosmer is hitting .288/.344/.542 (138 OPS+). Hosmer is a launch angle guy. Hitting too many grounders was a problem. In 2018, Hosmer actually had a negative launch angle (which, surface-level is averaging more grounders than line drives and flies). In 2019, his average launch angle was 2.1 degrees. This year before the injury it was 8.6. The groundball percentage from 2018-2020 went 61, 56.8 and 47.4, respectively. He has the highest line drive percentage of his career by a decent margin. For the Padres' sake, hopefully the finger injury doesn't derail the gains made thus far.
Without even digging deep, the Padres have an MVP candidate in Tatis, a rookie sensation in Cronenworth, a veteran superstar in Machado along with rejuvenated versions of All-Stars Hosmer and Myers. It's possible Tommy Pham (latest here) is back for the playoffs, too.
Add it all up and the San Diego Padres are leading the NL in runs, slugging, total bases and OPS. They are fourth in doubles, third in triples, second in homers, fourth in average and second in on-base percentage. They are even first in steals. A power-speed combo that gets on base? That's arguably the most dynamic offense in baseball.
In San Diego? Maybe hitting really is contagious.