By Nick Recchia
PHOTO CREDIT: BASEBALL SAVANT
There are some players who matriculate to the majors after a handful of years while others are meteors that you can see from miles away screaming on their path to the show. Tommy Pham, for the surprising career he has had so far, was neither. Drafted out of Durango HS in the 16th round of the 2006 MLB June Amateur Draft, Pham like many young players struggled in his first rounds of pro ball. Having over 3,000 plate appearances at the minor league level while spending parts of his first twelve seasons in the minors before a breakout campaign for the Cardinals in 2017 kept him up for good and even garnered him some MVP votes. His .306/.411/.520 slash line has been the highwater mark so far in his career, but also shows the potential that is possible in that 6.2 WAR season.
The Padres new left fielder, acquired from the Rays this offseason along with infielder Jake Cronenworth for outfielder Hunter Renfroe, second baseman Xavier Edwards and a PTBNL, fits the Padres biggest offensive deficiency, which has been a lack of on base percentage up and down the lineup. His career OBP of .373 immediately slots in near the top of the lineup along with Fernando Tatis who himself had a OBP last year of .379. Having these two as table setters who can also do damage changes the complexion of the lineup in front of Manny Machado. Manny has two potential 20/20+ guys in front of him causing havoc and damage which should provide more offense and dangerous situations for opposing pitchers.
Outside of the statistical output Pham brings to the team, is the grit and competitive fire he jolts into the clubhouse. This is someone who has been a fan favorite wherever he has gone and is revered by the Tampa Rays clubhouse as the guy who kept the team accountable and on it at all times. That has been something lacking on previous teams which reflects on the organization and the stigma of the laid back culture of San Diego as a whole most of the country assumes about us. His drive and persona of someone with a chip on his shoulder bodes well for a team who is consistently dogged by National media. The team needs a fire that propels them from potential to production and what better person to do that than a player who helped the Rays continue to do the same thing the last couple of years. .
As an organization on the rise and with aspirations of playoff baseball soon, you want players that have had some experience to help bring along the young guys. That started with bringing in Eric Hosmer and continues currently with Pham. Some players scintillate during the regular season only to fizzle under the focus and spotlight of the postseason. Over his career with the Cardinals and Rays, he has been every bit the star in the playoffs as he has during the regular season with a .333/.355/..633 slash line and three home runs over 31 plate appearances. He not only exceeds in this role but seems to take his quality of play to a whole other level.
Diamonds are forged through intense pressure and stress over many years. It took Tommy Pham until the end of his age 29 season to finally settle in as a big leaguer. Never being given anything easy in this game has made him the star he is today. Diamonds are their most magical under the brightest of lights and this one is no different.
Longtime baseball enthusiast who tries to incorporate new age analytics into old school baseball strategy and how the two can coexist in winning harmony. Also a minor league aficionado who delves deep into the farm to share the love of the game from the lower rungs of the minor leagues and up. Always up for sports talk.