February 20, 2018

By Chris Ello, Febuary 20, 2018


Quick now, no fair going to Google it: who had the highest batting average of any San Diego Padre last season?

How about slugging percentage? OPS?


Answer: Jose Pirela, who in 83 games had the team’s top batting average (.288), slugging percentage (.490) and OPS (.837). He finished second to Matt Szczur in on-base percentage (.347).


Now, for another question: where is Jose Pirela going to play this season?


Trickier answer. With the ballyhooed acquisition of first baseman Eric Hosmer, who signed a $144-million deal with the Padres on Monday, the 28-year-old Pirela, who finally broke through at the big league level last season, actually has no place at all to play.


Hosmer at first base moves Wil Myers to right field. Manuel Margot is set in center. Hunter Renfroe is the solid choice to win the job in left field. Good thing Pirela can also play some infield. Oh, wait. Cory Spangenberg and Carlos Asquaje are set to fight it out for the second base job, Freddy Galvis has been signed to play shortstop, and old friend Chase Headley is back in town to play third.


So the Padres very well may open the season with their best hitter sitting on the bench? It’s at least something that needs to be thought through. Pirela played only a half-season a year ago, yet had more doubles (25) than any player on the ballclub except Myers (29). He hit 10 homers, which played out over a whole season would double to 20 and leave him behind only Myers (30) and Renfroe (26).


If you double his RBI number from 40 to 80 – well, all he does is lead the team in that category, too.


He hit against lefties (.305) and righties (.283). He hit at home (.278) and on the road (.299). He hit .294 in June, .299 in July and .284 in August before playing sparingly with only 35 at-bats in September and hitting .257.


He just plain hit.


If the Padres don’t find a place for him to play this upcoming season – that might be a miss.