Across Five Springs: Opening Day Second Baseman

Across Five Springs: Opening Day Second Baseman

AJ Preller took the helm of the Padres in late 2014 while the club was coming off a less than inspiring season. Known for his scouting prowess and nearly ludicrous work ethic, Preller had been the force behind a strong Texas international signing program. The hope was that he would be able to turn a well-regarded farm system into a playoff contender. This is a series looking at the past five seasons Opening Day rosters.

2015 Opening Day Second Baseman: Jedd Gyorko

Jedd Gyorko was a second round pick in the 2010 draft and was #71 on Baseball America’s Top 100 in 2013.  His rookie season he put up .249/.301/.444 line with a WRC+ of 110 good for 2.3 fWAR. That strong season resulted in an early career contract 5 years/$35 million early in the 2014 season. 2014 was a tough year and he missed 44 games with plantar fasciitis and struggled to replicate his 2013 campaign. In 2015 Gyorko’s struggles continued as Yangervis Solarte and Cory Spangenberg began to take ABs away. He was later demoted to AAA and came back to the majors as a stopgap SS. During the 2015-2016 offseason he was traded to the Cardinals with cash for OF Jon Jay.

2016 Opening Day Second Baseman: Cory Spangenberg

Cory Spangenberg was the Padre’s 2011 first round selection and made a quick accession to the majors debuting in 2014. 2015 was Spangenberg’s best season to date putting up 2.0 fWAR. His 2016 opening day start was marred by a quad injury resulting in only 14 games played. 2017-2018 were middling years for the infielder with 92 and 82 WRC+ respectively. He was subsequently released after the 2018 season.  During the 2019-2020 offseason Spangenberg signed with the Seibu Lions of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) in Japan.

2017 Opening Day Second Baseman: Yangervis Solarte

Yangervis Solarte was acquired from the Yankees with Rafael de Paula in exchange for Chase Headley before the 2014 trade deadline. The versatile infielder put up average to above average production every season until the 2017 campaign. He became a fan favorite for his enthusiasm and his signature homerun jump and clap celebration. In 2016 Yangervis lost his wife to complications from cancer. In one of those bigger than baseball moments he returned 25 September for a pinch-hit appearance, his first with the club since his wife’s passing. He received a standing ovation from the home crowd it is one of my most memorable moments at Petco Park.  2017 was a tough year for Solarte and his production fell off to the tune of a 91 WRC+ and .8 fWAR. He was traded during the offseason to Toronto for Edward Olivares and Jared Carkuff. He most recently signed a minor league deal with the divisional rival Giants in January 2020.

2018 Opening Day Second Baseman: Jose Pirela

Jose Pirela much like the prior opening day starters, was coming off a productive season only to lead to disappointing results once given the starting job. Pirela was a 2.0 fWAR mostly in leftfield but the breakout was a mirage. Instead of building on his strong output he instead put up he managed an anemic -.8 fWAR and 77 WRC+. He was DFA’d in July of 2019 and later traded to Philadelphia for cash considerations. He was released during that offseason to pursue an opportunity in the NPB.

2019 Opening Day Second Baseman: Ian Kinsler

Ian Kinsler was a veteran signing on the tail end of a “Hall of Very Good” type of career. Luis Urias was pegged to be the opening day starter at shortstop prior to the start of spring training but instead Fernando Tatis Jr. forced his way onto the big league club. The logical choice was to shift the highly touted prospect to the keystone but instead Kinsler took the bulk of the playing time. Kinsler only managed a 70 WRC+ across 281 ABs in 2019. Kinsler also was involved in a controversial incident allegedly swearing at the home crowd. He retired at the end of 2019 and transitioned to the Padre’s front office as an advisor. 2020 opening day starter has yet to be determined but Jurickson Profar had the inside track on the starting job prior to the shutdown due to the COVID 19 virus. Brian Dozier, Greg Garcia, Ty France, and Jake Cronenworth all were in the mix to vie for playing time.

TKF contributor Chris Yumen. Follow on Twitter @CySouthbay

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I have been following the Padres since my first game in 1996. I grew up in the South Bay and graduated from a local university. I have since moved to the Northeast for work but my passion for My Padres remain. Look forward to watching the Pads as perennial playoff contenders.

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