After being last season’s most intriguing team heading into the season only to fall short of expectations, the 2016 San Diego Padres enter the season with a very different look.
Justin Upton and his team-leading 26 home runs and 19 steals? Gone. Jedd Gyorko and his 16 home runs? Gone. Yonder Alonso and his team-leading .282 batting average? Gone.
Insert Jon Jay, Alexei Ramirez and Jabari Blash.
Fun fact: The Padres didn’t use the same lineup more than five times last season.
Expect more of the same as new manager Andy Green looks to find a consistent lineup he likes. Here is the likely lineup heading into the season along with their fantasy stock.
1. Jon Jay, LF
Jay was hampered by a number of injuries in 2015, so don’t put too much stock in his .210 batting average. Jay will slide in and take over in left following Justin Upton’s departure.
Though it will be impossible for him to replicate Upton’s numbers last season, expect Jay to hit closer to his .286 batting average and provide solid defense in the vast Petco Park outfield.
2. Cory Spangenberg, 2B
Spangenberg is penciled in as the Opening Day starter at second base now that Gyorko is with the St. Louis Cardinals. He hit .271 with a .333 on-base percentage in 345 plate appearances last season.
He should bat atop the Padres’ lineup and if he is able to get on base consistently, he could use his speed to produce runs and stolen bases. He is a capable free-agent add during the season.
3. Wil Myers, 1B
After getting off to a very strong start (.291/.340/.493 in 32 games), Myers missed the majority of the season with the same wrist injury that bothered him with the Tampa Bay Rays.
If Myers, who is still only 25, can stay healthy, he can be very productive as a late-round sleeper pick.
4. Matt Kemp, RF
After a very slow start to the season, Kemp turned in some rather successful numbers by season’s ending – totaling 100 RBI to go with 23 home runs and 80 runs scored. Kemp still possesses quality run-producing power and having played in at least 150 games the last two seasons, durability should no longer be a concern.
You can expect Kemp to be taken in rounds 6-8, which means he could provide you team some depth as a third outfielder or your utility player.
5. Derek Norris, C
2015 proved to be a season of ups and downs for Norris, who hit .250 with 14 home runs and 62 RBI. The Padres acquired Christian Bethancourt from the Atlanta Braves this offseason to bring the catchers group to three with Austin Hedges.
Norris is the best hitter of the three, which means Hedges or Bethancourt is likely to be left of the Opening Day roster. Norris is a late-round pick or free agent at this point.
6. Yangervis Solarte, 3B
Solarte enters the season as the only viable candidate to start at third base. He had a very solid season in 2015 by all accounts, hitting .270 with 14 home runs with 63 RBI.
He is a switch hitter who rarely strikes out, but has a very limited upside. Depending on if he qualifies for both first and third base, he can be a pick up later in the season if he catches fire.
7. Alexei Ramirez, SS
The Padres did not have a true shortstop on the roster last year, which hurt them at times, especially defensively. Ramirez comes in and fills that hole immediately. He played in 154 games in 2015, which means he is durable.
Coming off a down season, there is no need to draft Ramirez at this point. He is capable of 30 home runs plus stolen bases, which makes him option later in the season if you need the help.
8. Melvin Upton Jr./Travis Jankowski, CF
What was a time-share at the end of the 2015 season has evolved into a position battle this spring training. Upton Jr. showed flashes when he returned from a foot injury in June, hitting .259 with five home runs and 17 RBI in 228 plate appearances. Jankowski is a lefty bat with speed and good range on defense.
Alexi Amarista shifts back to the bench after the signing of Ramirez. Amarista is better suited as a utility backup who can play multiple infield positions. Christian Bethancourt is a worthy backup to Derek Norris and could see a few spot starts himself. Brett Wallace is a lefty bat on the bench, who hit well in limited action - .302 in 107 plate appearances. Expect Wallace to continue his role as a pitch hitter and backup Myers at first base. Jabari Blash has been making a name for himself in spring. He hit 32 homers last season in the minors and could be in line for pitch-hit opportunities. He is able to play the corner outfield positions. Jose Pirela and Jemile Weeks, who has been the surprise of spring training so far, provide depth in the infield.