San Diego Padres Wil Myers: Breakout Candidate in 2016?

The San Diego Padres dominated the 2014 offseason by bringing in and dealing for a multitude of high profile players. While they were crowned the champs of the offseason, the on field product turned out to be far worse than anyone could have expected.

A key player acquired in 2014, was the young and upcoming outfielder, Wil Myers. Coming off a down 2014 season where he was hindered by a wrist injury, the 2013 A.L. ROY, was brought over to man center field for the Padres. The Padres were banking on Myers to help anchor the middle of the lineup, but like most things for the Padres in 2015, it just did not work out.

Besides the former hype and what we saw Myers do his rookie season, there is still some optimism behind thinking that he could very well breakout this season even though the last two seasons have been rough. Myers came out of the gates on fire last season in which he posted a, .286 AVG/4 HR/15 RBI/3 SB/.787 OPS line in April. This type of production was right on line with he did his rookie year in Tampa and it had many owners excited for the rest of the season.

He stayed hot entering the beginning of May, but unfortunately things went south thanks to wrist tendinitis that flamed up during batting practice. Before he hit the DL in mid-May he had a, .306/1 HR/4 RBI/.946 OPS line in only nine games, but it was still an indication that he was carrying over his momentum from the beginning of the year.

He would miss the rest of May and nearly all of June before returning, yet ultimately hitting the D.L a second time after only three games. This stint, was because of his other wrist as he braced himself during a collision causing him to miss all of July and August before he would return in September.

Myers even admitted that he has tried to rush back from injuries before and did the same last season, which is probably why he could never really get back to 100% as he kept pushing to return. As we all know a hitters wrists are their money makers as they desperately need the snap and force necessary to generate solid contact. So it seems as though Myers has had to battle through nagging problems in both wrists stemming from his right wrist fracture he suffered during the 2014 season and he only further compounded the problem by trying to rush back.

While Myers has earned the reputation of being impatient at the plate, it was interesting to see him nearly completely flip that notion during his return in September. Even though he only hit for .208 that month, he amazingly walked 17 times while striking out 24 times.

While the K are still high, it was still interesting to see him become more patient at the plate and hopefully he can close the gap between his K and BB. Which would go a long way in not only helping drive up his stats, but also allow him to get his OPS into the .800’s where it needs to be in order for Myers to develop into a consistent power threat.

If we look further at his batted ball data, understanding that he has not played in no more 88 games in any of his three career seasons, he showed some improvements last season that are encouraging. During his solid rookie season he had a 20.2% LD rate, and a 33.9% FB rate which are solid contact ratios.

The important thing to note though, is that is crucial to see Myers post somewhat similar ratios during the 2015 season coming off him fracturing his wrist in 2014 because we need to see if the wrist injury will be a permanent detriment to his hitting ability.

In 2015, his LD rate was 16.9% and his FB rate was 35.5%. While the LD rate is not what it was in 2013, it is a nice 1.4% increase from what he did before fracturing his wrist in 2014 and not too far off of his rookie season. His career GB% seems to be right in the 45% range, which is a little high, but if he can keep building his LD% back up and continue to increase his FB% as he has been able to do, it should all help in allowing his power to surface while dropping his GB rate more in line with the better power hitters in the game.

There is also the force in which he was able to hit the ball last season, which showed that he made either medium or hard contact over 85% of the time in 2015. He has never had a Soft% any higher than 14% over his entire career, so it is nice to see that he when he squares a ball up, he still can hit it with ample authority.

Petco Park does him no favors in the power department, as it remains a pitcher’s haven. But, Myers has power that plays to all fields and hopefully he can keep pulling the ball more in Petco in order to hopefully help out his power numbers because his batted ball data seems to show that he has become more pull conscious during his time with the Padres.

Injuries have been the question with Myers and rightfully so after the last two seasons. All we have to do is look no further than Freddie Freeman to see what troublesome wrist problems can do to a hitter during the season. The most worrisome injury last season was Myers battling tendonitis, but hopefully he rid himself of that thanks to a surgery in the offseason to remove a bone spur, offering a boost in itself to his potential fantasy value next year.

He seems poised to breakout this season as long as he can stay away from suffering some of the flukier injuries that he had to battle last season. There is also the fact that he appears to now be the full time first basemen for the Padres as well, which should reduce some injury risk.

San Diego’s lineup is not pretty, so do not expect a lot of help counting stats wise. But, with 20+ HR ability, Myers still deserves to be a late round flier as he appears to be the perfect blend of a buy-low/post-hype sleeper in 2016. He will not cost much of draft day so target him as your CI, UTIL, or OF4-OF5.

2016 Early Projections: .260/20 HR/60 RBI/8 SB/70 R/.780 OPS