Hey, it’s only been a decade, amirite? While the season’s start still remains fresh (does that mean it starts spoiling in the Summer?), some performances are garnering attention for better or worse. And you’d think we’d be handling the worse side of that coin (we get coins?) as not only will I be focusing on the Padres, but more specifically one Jurickson Profar. And the performance hasn’t just been on the “better” side of that metaphorical coin (thanks inflation) but also has come with a side of stunning. Not the kind where when I wear purple I look stunning, but the one where I am pretty stunned that Profar has been doing what he’s been doing. Okay, that’s the same stun, but just as long as we aren’t talking about phaser’ing (totally a word) some random alien. The rails can only go deeper and more sci-fi friends. But alas, what has Profar been doing? Well, I’m glad you asked or this post would just end awkwardly with a blank screen the rest of the way. In his first 49 plate appearances, he’s been able to produce a .256/.388/.615 triple-slash and already accumulated +1.0 WAR more than last season’s entire 137-game effort. While that last one doesn’t really pertain to fantasy, it does pertain to stunning, so yeah, I rest my case. But is it for real and will it last?
Well, to know if this is for real, we have to know what the real-real for Profar actually is and truth be told, I’m not sure anyone actually knows what that is. And unfortunately, his career is certainly one that has not ever met the gaudy expectations that anyone had for him more than a decade ago, including actual experts. Simply put, Profar was a complete prospect and did everything you would want a young hitter and middle infielder to do coming up the ranks. Projected to be a solid hitter both in contact and power, he stole bases, drew walks, and played excellent defense. I mean, don’t take it from me, take it from someone who knows what they’re talking about.
“With Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, and Manny Machado safely ensconced in the majors, Profar is now the best prospect in baseball. With additional physical maturity, this is a guy who could win Gold Gloves while hitting .300, hitting 15 homers, stealing 20 bases, drawing 80 walks, and charming puppies and kittens and beat reporters all across North America. Grade A.” – John Sickels, 2013.
This was the general consensus at the time too, that Profar would have a middle infielder hitting profile that could have shades of Nomar Garciaparra or Derek Jeter. It might seem a little silly to name-drop two of the modern greats with Profar, but the hype was real and it lasted for quite some time after he made it to the bigs and progressed the next 10 seasons with a mix of mediocrity and meh. The M&M’s of my love-making, if you will. (You probably won’t.)
His career high in batting average was .278, but that was just in 56 games back in 2020. His career average stands at just .237. The power was there for a minute, as he hit 20 homeruns back-to-back in 2018 and 2019 for the Rangers and A’s respectively but has just averaged around seven a season. But, Profar has always had good judgment at the plate and leveraged some pretty strong OBP numbers at the same time and has kept a respectable 9.6 BB% against his career 16.3 K%.
All this is to say Profar has not lived up to his expectations, so what’s changed? Well, there are some great points to argue something has changed, and much to our collective chagrin, there are equal points supporting nothing has changed. For example, did you know that Jurickson, when up to bat this season, has seen fastballs under 91 MPH over 55% of the time? I mean, I can’t hit that, I’m sure, but for a major league player, it would seem that’s easy mode. Then again, Profar is pulling the ball at an extremely inflated rate, 65% compared to his 52% career number, and hard contact and exit velocity are both up, all encouraging signs that he may be simply just hitting the ball better and harder. But remember, as I alluded to earlier, the season is oh so young and we are all depending on data sets that could be shown to prove anything. Even that your mom loves you.
Profar has had plenty of time and opportunities to become the player we all thought he would be. The abundance of at-bats available to him now and in the near future with this Padres club is a net positive no matter what and should be treated as such as he continues to hit well. Also remember that these are all things he’s done before at different parts of his career and it just never came together too, so it might just be one of those things where you enjoy it while it lasts and cut bait before it’s too late. But just in case, do keep an eye on if he continues to elevate, pull, and bash the baseball because if he does, better late than never. Unless it’s like 100 years from now, that’s way too late.
Jay is a longtime Razzball everything who consumes an egregious amount of Makers Mark as a vehicle to gain wisdom and augment his natural glow. Living in the D.C. area, he also likes spending time visiting the local parks and feeding lettuce to any turtles he encounters, including Mitch McConnell. You can follow him on Twitter @jaywrong.