Needing one win, the Padres fell 0-3 against Miami on April 23 at Petco Park in San Diego, California. Despite the mound holding up well, the offense couldn’t get going, failing to carry over the momentum from the previous day’s big win and falling short of the winning streak. It was a stinging loss because they couldn’t catch Miami, who were above them in the wild card race.
It was a game where the blame could be laid at the feet of almost all of the offense. San Diego’s big-name hitters were a misfire. In total, the San Diego lineup managed just three hits and two walks on the day. It’s a tough trend to beat. If you can’t score runs, you have to hold on for dear life. The extra run in the third inning was especially painful.
San Diego starter Blake Snell gave up a solo home run to Soler in the top of the third inning with the score tied at 0-0. It was annoying, but it was still the first solo home run of the game. It wasn’t a game-changing hit, but this is where Snell started to falter. Back-to-back singles to Araes and Bell put runners on first and second.
Burger then hit a ball that rolled in front of shortstop Xander Bogaerts (31). It was a slow ball, but not a tricky one to handle, but Bogaerts’ throw to first turned into a double play, allowing Arajes to score from second. The combination of hits and errors cost San Diego the lead, totaling three runs in the third inning. Bogart looked at the ground and blamed himself, but the mistake was irreparable.
Bogaerts has had a storied career. He was called a prodigy when he made his major league debut in Boston in 2013 at the age of 21. He has since developed into one of the most potent offensive shortstops in the league. In 2015, he won his first Silver Slugger Award, and in 2016, he won it for the second year in a row. Until last year, he was a four-time All-Star and five-time Silver Slugger. His offense was never in doubt. The shortstop has a major league career OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) of .807.
However, his defense is not as highly regarded as his offense. He’s been labeled a below-average defender, but last year he suddenly started putting up good numbers on defense, which appealed to San Diego. Determined to move Fernando Tatis Jr. to the outfield, the Padres eventually gave Bogart an 11-year, $280 million contract. They also gave him the shortstop spot he wanted. They moved Ha-Sung Kim, a better defender than Bogaerts, to second base.
But Bogaerts’ defense has been in question since the start of his 11-year contract, as his offense, which he was counted on to be the best in the league, has sagged. The defense is one thing, but the offense is another. Through 25 games, Bogaerts is batting .265 with 14 homers, 44 RBIs, and a .732 OPS in 122 games. His adjusted OPS for ballpark factors is 105. That’s just 5% better than the league average. That’s not what you’d expect from a $280 million player. It’s a big fall from grace after a strong start to the season.
Ha-Sung Kim, 28, is inadvertently putting Bogaerts in a tougher spot. Kim is basically a better shortstop defender than Bogaerts. A number of metrics from last year to this year prove it. “Bogaerts on offense, Kim on defense” was the prevailing assessment before the season, and it’s no longer the case. In 123 games, Kim is batting .280 with 17 home runs, 49 RBIs, 28 doubles, and an OPS of 0.816. He’s better than Bogaerts in batting average, home runs, RBIs, doubles, and OPS.
Kim’s average annual salary is only $7 million. Bogaerts makes about $25.45 million. That’s more than three times what Kim makes. However, the “Bogaerts at shortstop” effect hasn’t worked out, leading some to argue that San Diego needs to rethink its strategy. In fact, The Athletic’s San Diego reporter, Dennis Lin, recently reported that the team has considered changing Bogaerts’ position within the organization. It would be a humiliating move for Bogaerts, whether he accepts it or not.
Bogaerts’ defense at shortstop isn’t negative, but it’s nothing special. If that’s the case, a move to second or first base would maximize his offensive talents. There’s Ha-Sung Kim at shortstop right now, who is a better defender than Bogaerts, and if Kim leaves the team in the future, it would also open up a spot for Jackson Merrill, one of the team’s top prospects. It’s also worth noting that Bogaerts’ defense at shortstop is more likely to decline than improve in the future.
Without Ha-Sung Kim, there would be no real comparison, and it’s likely that San Diego wouldn’t be able to move Bogaerts’ position right away. Merrill would still need to adjust to the major leagues. But Ha-Sung Kim is doing so well that Bogaerts and other high-priced players like Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado are being compared and criticized. Both Tatis Jr. and Machado have a lower OPS than Kim this year.
In fact, the San Diego Union-Tribune made an important point on April 24. It asserted that Kim was the team’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) this year. However, it added that “that honor should have been reserved for players like Machado, Tatis Jr. and Bogut.안전놀이터
In the end, despite Kim’s great performance, San Diego’s batting lineup, with the players who are supposed to be playing well, is not lighting up. The result is the team’s current record (61 wins and 67 losses). Kim can’t shine on his own. It’s time for his teammates to step up to the plate.