FanPost

Trent Grisham: A Star in the Making

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In any other year in the past two decades, a 23-year-old who played fantastic defense in center field while sporting a .251/.352/.456 line AND who was under relatively cheap control for 5 additional years would be the talk of the town in San Diego. Having a 21-year-old wunderkind at SS, a MVP candidate at 3B, a 2B who would go on to win Rookie of the Year, a resurgent year by an extremely talented RF, and many more interesting stories really watered down what should have been a highly-celebrated year by Trent Grisham. But I think it’s time to give Trent Grisham his due. What exactly do we have in this young, talented, centerfielder? Let’s take a look…

Defense

Defense is probably the most important aspect of Trent Grisham’s game, but it’s also likely to be the aspect that is most underrated by Padres fans. Let’s keep this straight, if Grisham can play a solid centerfield and get on base even 33% of the time, he’s a tremendously valuable member of our team. It’s his defense that keeps his floor value extremely high. But Grisham’s defense in centerfield HAS to be watched live to be fully appreciated, and very few people were able to watch Grisham live in 2020. He’s not going to grade well on most of our eye-tests when we are forced to watch on tv. Here’s why…

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As you can see, the best aspect of Grisham’s "jump" and really, the best aspect of his centerfield game overall, is that he has a remarkably good (in competition with Jackie Bradley Jr. for best in the game) reaction to the ball off of the bat. His first step is extremely fast, and extremely likely to be in the correct direction. Unfortunately for Grisham, the worst parts of his centerfield game, his route efficiency and his arm strength, are the things we are most likely to actually capture on tv. Let’s look at this missed catch by Grisham…

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His first step and subsequent acceleration on this ball was amazing (we didn’t see those parts). His route efficiency was only okay, and he obviously dropped the ball. According to the eye-test, Grisham probably should have caught that ball. It looked difficult, sure, but we’d probably expect him to make that catch 7/10 times or more. So, what was the actual catch probability? 10%! He essentially made us think that a 5-star catch should have been fairly routine because his reaction was fantastic (but we weren’t able to see it).

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As you can see above, he had excellent range in, and to his left and right, but may have struggled going back on the ball, especially over his glove-side shoulder. Ideally, his growing comfort with the Petco Park wall will improve what may be his only deficit from a range-perspective. But even if he simply maintains the defense he provided in 2020, I think we should all be happy. Now let's take a look at his Outs Above Average...

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I'm usually in agreement with those who cry small sample size, but if you can hang with the names on this list for even 60 games, you are doing something right. Just for your viewing pleasure, here's a GIF of a 30% catch probability play that Grisham made look fairly easy...

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Offense

As I mentioned above, if Trent Grisham can continue his defensive prowess, he doesn’t need to hit a ton to remain a solid starter on a good team. But if he can continue or surpass his 2020 efforts, he’s a borderline star. Not only did he provide a very solid .251/.352/.456 line in 2020, but he led the qualified Padres in pitches per plate appearance while also providing 10 stolen bases with only 1 caught stealing. I think in the long run, he would make for a fantastic lead-off hitter given his speed, proclivity to work the count and his lefty bat ahead of Tatis and Machado. That being said, his slash-line dropped to .227/.306/.395 while in the leadoff spot in 2020. His walk-rate plummeted, and his K-rate skyrocketed. I think forcing Grisham to prove himself lower in the lineup may prove beneficial in the long-run.

I think the new game of baseball that requires throwing fastballs up in the zone and having balls that are very clearly juiced may improve the likelihood that Grisham’s bat is here to stay. He’s quite clearly got some pop, but in the old days of pitchers constantly hitting the outside corner away, Grisham likely may have been more of a doubles-hitter. But with more fastballs up and a ball that flies, I think that Grisham is a legitimate 20-25 home run guy. Here’s a breakdown of his average and slugging percentage by zone…

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It’s possible that teams pitch him low more often going forward, but in todays game in which the elevated fastball reins supreme, I see him taking advantage quite a few times per season. While the book on Grisham at the plate is almost certainly going to gain a few chapters this off-season, he's almost certainly going to be a LHH who provides a very good OBP while providing some occasional pop and some speed on the base paths. I'll take that every day of the week.

Hating the Dodgers

The final factor of Trent Grisham's game that I find to be exceptional to watch is his monumental hate of the Dodgers. He hates them, we hate them and that's amazing. Here he is pumping his team up after a bomb off of Kershaw.

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Here he is talking to the Dodgers dugout after said home run. I'm not a lip reader, but I don't think he's asking if they want to explore the San Diego brunch scene with him late tomorrow morning.

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And lastly, here is Grisham tossing a baseball into the Dodgers dugout while Brusdar Graterol watches nearby.

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It's hard not to immediately like any player who hates the Dodgers. But a potential 23-year-old star CF who hates the Dodgers? I'll take him!

This FanPost was written by a member of the Gaslamp Ball community and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gaslamp Ball staff or SB Nation.