2013 X-Factor: San Diego Padres

The 2013 Padres are pretty definitively Chase Headley's team. He's the star, the face of the franchise, and the best player on the team. I'd say that Yasmani Grandal and Cameron Maybin are the next most important members of the squad. But there's a player on this Padres team that really isn't getting much attention, and I think he can have a huge impact on the team in 2013.

My x-factor for the San Diego Padres in 2013 is Yonder Alonso.

Alonso's 2013 rookie year fell under the radar due to excellent performances from fellow rookies Bryce Harper, Todd Frazier, and Wade Miley. In fact, Alonso received just one third place vote on the NL Rookie of the Year ballot, tying him with Matt Carpenter of the Cardinals (who logged just 340 plate appearances) and Jordan Pacheco of the Rockies (who accrued just 0.2 fWAR in 2012). 

But just because Alonso received the same number of Rookie of the Year votes as Carpenter and Pacheco, that doesn't mean that he's in the same category of player as either of them. In 155 games last year, Alonso was worth 2.0 fWAR, homering nine times and doubling 39 times. That low homer total can be attributed to a criminally low 6.4% HR/FB. Up that to the league average of 11.3%, and Alonso's homer total is up to 16, a much more acceptable total from a first baseman.

There's still a lot to like with Alonso. His 23.7% line drive rate was among the best in baseball. His groundball and flyball rates were comparable to Headley's, though Alonso had a better line drive rate and a HR/FB more than three times lower than Headley's. His HR/FB is just a complete mystery, considering the other players around that 6.4% level are guys like Omar Infante, Erick Aybar, and Ichiro Suzuki, who would never be confused for power hitters.

Alonso could take a monumental step forward in 2013 with just a slight shift in his luck. If that happens, the Padres will have another viable threat in their lineup, and their team is going to be that much more dangerous in the NL West.

Padres on TOC
End of Season Postmortem
2013 Season Preview
You May Say I'm a Dreamer
2013 Burning Question
This Is My Nightmare
2013 X-Factor

About Joe Lucia

I'm the managing editor of Awful Announcing and the news editor of The Comeback. I also made The Outside Corner a thing for six seasons.