June 23, 2024

Jurickson Profar expressed discomfort when asked if he considered himself the Padres’ top player, firmly denying the notion and emphasizing the team’s collective talent. Despite his modesty, both Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado asserted that Profar has been leading the team, a sentiment echoed by their performance statistics.

Indeed, only one Padres player ranks among the top 10 in batting average and on-base percentage and the top 20 in slugging percentage across the majors. Surprisingly, it’s not one of the highly paid players like Tatis Jr. or Machado.

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No, it’s the player with the minimal contract, the type that could be easily covered by loose change found in the depths of the Padres’ couch cushions. He’s the one guaranteed just $1 million for a single year.

As the Padres prepare for Friday’s matchup against the Diamondbacks, Profar boasts impressive stats, leading the team by significant margins in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.

Profar’s impact has been undeniable, especially in crucial moments for the Padres’ offense. Over the past 16 innings where the team has scored three or more runs, he’s contributed with either a hit or a walk in 13 of those innings. His clutch performance includes a .455 batting average in close-and-late situations and a .360 average with runners in scoring position. Additionally, he leads the team in go-ahead RBIs and game-winning RBIs.

At 31 years old, Profar is showcasing the best numbers of his MLB career thus far, surpassing his previous performances in his nine seasons with at least 130 plate appearances.

It’s a remarkable narrative unfolding in the majors—the former top prospect finally living up to the expectations set long ago.

“I always expect myself to play like this,” Profar remarked. “I didn’t do it before. But right now I am. I’m this player, man. I am.”

Wouldn’t it be remarkable if Profar maintains this level of performance throughout the entire season? The most he’ll cost the Padres, if he reaches at least 600 plate appearances, is $2.5 million. That’s just over 5% of the combined $49 million guaranteed to Bogaerts, Machado, and Tatis in base salary this season.

While Profar’s contributions are deeply appreciated, it’s hard to overlook the struggles of the team’s highest-paid players. Bogaerts, Machado, and Tatis are all performing below expectations, which underscores the significance of Profar’s role in keeping the team competitive.

Jurickson Profar (10) and Manny Machado (13) celebrate Machado's March 29 home run against the Giants.

Without Profar’s heroics, the Padres wouldn’t have come close to their current record. This period of the season is often about finding stability, and having different players step up to provide production is acceptable for now.

As manager Mike Shildt noted, it’s important for players like Profar to step up when others are struggling. However, Profar acknowledges that he can’t be the team’s best player for an entire season. He remains optimistic about his teammates finding their rhythm and believes the team will become much stronger as a result.

In addition to his on-field contributions, Profar’s off-field presence is invaluable. He brings a unique blend of confidence, camaraderie, determination, and experience to the team. Despite not meeting personal goals in previous seasons, he’s adopted a different approach this year—simply focusing on playing the game.

While Profar may not fully understand why he’s performing at his current level, he recognizes that he’s become smarter and more relaxed over time. This shift in mindset, along with his unwavering determination, has played a significant role in his resurgence this season.

Profar has a keen understanding of the pressure his teammates are under, having experienced it himself. He believes they’re putting too much pressure on themselves, wanting success so badly that it becomes elusive. Drawing from his own experiences, Profar advises them to relax and let their talent shine through, rather than forcing the issue.

He chuckled as he reflected on this lesson, acknowledging that he’s learned it the hard way.

Despite the team’s struggles, there have been glimpses of their offensive potential. Profar’s recent hitting streak, Machado’s clutch performances, Tatis’s contributions, and Cronenworth’s power display all demonstrate the team’s capability.

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In addition to their on-field efforts, the Padres are considering adding veteran Donovan Solano to bolster their lineup. They recognize that they can’t rely on Profar to carry the team indefinitely.

Machado emphasized the collective effort required to win games, acknowledging that while one player may shine for a period, success ultimately depends on contributions from the entire team.

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