Look, I know when you realize that this is now my second Padres post in a row, the typical reaction should be a rolling of the eyes and a sigh. I would also accept “typical” muttered underneath your breath. After all, it’s all I heard during my childhood! But no matter how much pity you feel for me and my plight, I would like to note for the record that before these past two posts, the last time I had spoken (wrote?) about a Padres player was (checks brain…) Tommy Pham… and how awesome he was going to be. Well, if you just muttered “typical” again, right you are
mom reader. So as Tommy Pham’s playing time both on the Padres and your roster enters into a flux state, let’s close the loop and analyze why exactly everything I had said about has not come true but how it still could. Maybe.
While you would probably note that I omitted this year’s stats, the real question you should be probably asking is: Did I not provide Pham’s 2021 stats because there have only been 13 games or because they have been a pure dumpster fire?
And my answer would be, why not both!
So look, it doesn’t take long to realize that when you attribute this year’s robust set of 13 games (hey man, that was like a fourth of last season) and last year’s 31, Tommy Pham has been somewhat a disaster at the plate. Captain obvious needs a promotion? What we really want to know is how bad is it really and for how long? Suffice to say, all of what I’m about to tell you, take it with a grain of salt. I say this not because of the usual caveats, but because I already know how this post is going to end. But no matter what I say, Pham has been awful for long enough that the Padres may not wait much longer. And that is both a shame and the kicker at the same time. I’m not sure how to transition into the next paragraph, so I’ll just honest and awkward and move on.
Alright, so as my posts generally shake (you bake), we’re going to go through his batting profile bit by bit. In this breakdown, we’re still in familiar territory. The numbers say what we know, 2019 was some above average sauce, the 2020 and 2021 numbers were not even sauce. Some kind of dressing. Balsamic most likely. Is this even a convincing spectrum? And while the ISO this year is both funny and unsustainable, what we know is that at least he’s not striking out during his struggles, and the BABIP continues to be a dragging factor to consider.
So I’m no expert (you know it!), but this table really tells me something, and that Pham kinda seems human. What I mean by this is for a guy who’s been struggling, especially with what average pop he did have, he sure seems to be trying to drive the ball in the air. The effect so far has not really produced much, to put it mildly, but keep an eye on these numbers as the data comes in.
The previous assumption (but strong one, which earns double points) kinda shows its colors here. While you may wondering which color, I’m more interested in why both his soft and hard contact is getting blended a bit more in the middle. Could this be a corollary to more flyballs? It’s an interesting hypothesis, but there shouldn’t be any conclusions after 13 games. What I will say is that being soft [INSERT JOKE HERE] will get you no wear.
If there was an argument to be made that Tommy Pham isn’t this bad, you’ll start seeing it here. Here’s what I love, his patience and judgement are intact, and when I look at a struggling player, his batting profile would give me major red flags his ball-and-strike process had turned complete garbage. He’s swinging at less pitches on the outside, (important to note that last season he saw very little fluctuation, and then just look at his swing percentage. While he may be trying to generate power with brute force, something that should in theory settle over time, Pham is still swinging at the same types of pitches, not swinging more, and swinging at strikes at career norms. (Also interesting to not that Pham is also seeing slightly less balls out of the zone this year, not a huge deal in of itself, but with so little PA’s so far, could make a difference in production.)
Last but certainly not least, this breakdown bodes well for Pham. His contact percentage is already improved from last season, and even with the small sample size, his contact numbers are tilted toward his career norms, not last year’s aberration. I mean, that’s my call, and I’ve already leaned into the “Covid-shortened-season” schtick with other players, but that’s doesn’t make it wrong. Crazy things can happen in a short year, and it just so happens that Pham found himself in a quarter season slump. It’s not great that his numbers have continued to suffer at the start of this season, but the Padres would do well in giving him a bit more time to sort things out. I’d also make the same recommendation to you, mostly because I doubt the Padres front office cares what I think. You might not either, but a Tommy Pham that hits like he used is a fun thing to watch, and a great player to own. Give him a bit more time and see if the Padres do too.
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 @jaywrong, or read his rarely (like never) updated blog Desultory Thoughts of a Longfellow.