By R.J. Anderson //
Biggest Surprise: Miguel Tejada
From hitting .269/.308/.362 with seven homers in 428 plate appearances, to hitting .277/.323/.442 with 8 homers in 220 plate appearances – in a ballpark that tramples offensive output. Maybe the added pressure of a playoff race really did rekindle Tejada’s spirit. After all, this is the first time Tejada has been in a serious playoff pursuit since 2003.
Biggest Bust: Kyle Blanks
An easy player to root for, the six-foot-six behemoth missed most of the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in July. When Blanks did play, he was mostly unimpressive, striking out in more than 45% of his at-bats and not flashing the power that made him a tantalizing sleeper this year. Adrian Gonzalez‘s eventual departure would allow the Padres to play Blanks at first base and leave him there, but the huge holes in his swing remain a going concern.
2011 Keeper Alert: Adrian Gonzalez
Despite playing in one of the toughest offensive environments in all of baseball, Gonzalez continues to hit. This season, he hit .298 (nearly a career high) with a .393 on-base percentage and .511 slugging percentage. He posted a fourth straight year of at least 30 home runs (31) and at least 95 RBI (101). Entering the walk year of his contract, he’s a candidate to be moved at the trade deadline if the Padres fall out of the race early in 2011. If that happens and Gonzalez goes to a better ballpark for hitters, he’d become even more valuable.
2011 Regression Alert: Ryan Ludwick
Call him the anti-Tejada. Just about every aspect of Ludwick’s game went the wrong way after the Cardinals sent him to San Diego. He’ll attempt to rebound after seeing a drop in all major statistical categories. A move away from Petco would make him a strong candidate for positive regression, and the Padres might be willing to deal, after pledging to boost their payroll.