In 2034, as a rookie shortstop, Miguel Padilla came up and made a lot of rookie mistakes on the way to committing 20 errors in 107 games. “”He’ll grow into the position,” was a common refrain from the front office at the time. “Besides,” the counter argument continued, “it’s not about errors, it’s about outs.” Padilla’s outs turned into a +5.0 Zone Rating in that first season. His second season, however, was horrendous (35 errors, -6.7 ZR).
Patience was still called for, and of course we got last season’s somewhat respectable performance in Padilla’s third year: “only” 24 errors, in 137 games, “good for” a .962 fielding percentage, but a +3.4 ZR. I mean, seriously, not bad, as noted by his DEFF number of 1.018.
It looked like the young shortstop was on his way to not being an embarrassment.
Now that he’s signed a 1-season deal worth $1.7M for next year, it’s like he’s fallen back to his old ways…only worse. I mean, the guy is butcher-blocking pretty much every UHO (Unidentified Horsehide Object) sent his way. The numbers are as horrendous as merely watching him play the field would have you guess: 20 errors in only 66 games. A resoundingly bad .935 fielding rate, good for -3.9 ZR and a .958 DEFF. I mean. Holy Yo-Yo Stank, Batman. What the hell’s happening?
Usually, when pundits talk about the team’s bad defense, it’s in the light of the motionless blobs the team posts in its corner outfield, or sometimes the Edward Scissorhands style of Rob Thomas at third base. Sure, Padilla is never really singled out as a star, but most baseball people kind of get the team’s argument that he would be something close to average out there. Folks are wondering, though. Is he okay? Is Padilla mentally in the game? Is he hurt somehow? Has his girlfriend left him? Are his advisors bilking him? Is he on drugs?
No one is sure.
Offensively, the usually effervescent Guatemalan is having something that could arguably be called his best season as a major leaguer, but when he puts on the glove something changes.
It’s gone on long enough that people are whispering. And people are wondering.