Wil Myers: Team Leader

wil-myers-leadershipAfter Wil Myers signed his extension, the prevailing opinion was that he was officially the new face of the franchise.  The Padres had a face they could throw onto their marketing materials.  At the time of the extension, I was unsure of whether Wil Myers could go beyond being the marketing focus and actually be a team leader in the clubhouse.  Those doubts disappeared on Thursday after Wil appeared on the Darren Smith show.

Specifically, this happened:

The sheer honesty here is astonishing in this world of watered down PR safe responses.  Darren was taken aback and was incredulous about Myers’ honesty.  It’s just not something you hear very often.  For example, Wil’s statement would usually come out in the form of a generic statement like, “I wore down as the season went on but it was a good experience I can build off of.”  The basic fan could react to this quote with an angry “OMG he quit on the team!”.  And I guess, this is true in a way but it represents something bigger to the Padres future.  Accountability and honesty are key factors of leadership, and racking my memory, this is the king of all Padres related comments not just preaching accountability (which happens all the time on the Padres’ business side with little actual accountability), but showing real, honest to god accountability.  It shows that Myers has thought about what happened last season, come to terms with it, and is working to correct the behavior.  Identifying and coming to terms with the problem is the most important step and Myers is passing that test with flying colors.  These are the building blocks that a clubhouse leader is made of.

On top of the leadership qualities Wil Myers is displaying, he is looking to have another great season on the field.  On the podcast, we’ve pointed out that Myers isn’t a risk free player.  He has a superstar reputation while not yet putting together a superstar season.  He wasn’t even the best hitter on the team last season (that honor goes to Yangervis Solarte).  As a result, it looks like the projection systems are a little gun shy with him:

wil-myers-stats

As you can see, both ZIPS and Steamer are projecting some regression from Myers, regressing from a 3.8 WAR season last year to a 2.4 to 2.6 WAR season in 2017.  Interestingly, the projection systems aren’t projecting any major differences in his output at the plate, with the only real difference being a small reduction in expected power, and some minor regression on defense at 1B.  The primary drop in his projected value comes from an expected reduction in his stolen base output, after Myers put up a surprising 28 SBs last season.  Projecting his stolen bases are difficult going forward as there are a lot of moving and abstract factors affecting this output including whether pitchers make holding him on more of a focus and better catcher awareness of his potential to steal.  But keeping his offensive output flat lined from last season may be a mistake.  As noted earlier, Myers admits he took his foot off the gas in the second half, which resulted in a prolonged second half slump.  If (as a Padres fan, we always must rely on if) Myers is able to finally put together a complete season, he should blow away these offensive projections.  Then again, this may be first season where he doesn’t have a built-in excuse for not reaching that potential, so hopefully that can be a motivating factor.  If injuries become an issue again, Myers is cast as an injury prone player maybe for good.  If he can’t put together two halves of production, he’ll be cast as a player that just can’t reach his potential.  There are no more excuses at this point, especially with the weight of a massive contract extension on his shoulders.  As for the defensive projections, Myers was impressive at 1B last season considering it was his first season at the position.  Intuitively, it would seem like Myers will improve on 1B technique in his second season at the position.

Myers appears to have the leadership intangibles coming into place, and is primed to have an improved year on the field (mandatory disclaimer with Myers: IF he can stay healthy).  These are key factors of a team leader coalescing, and will be exciting for Padres fans to see come together in 2017.  In a season where there won’t be much positive to see on the playing field, seeing if Myers will finally reach his potential is a key factor in whether The Plan will actually work.

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