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There’s an old expression about sportswriters, how they don’t really root for teams per se, but they root for the best story.
Count me as rooting for Jurickson Profar. Maybe this is his year.
Oh, we’ve been waiting. We’ve waited for Profar like we waited for Guffman and Godot, like we’ve been waiting for the Top Gun sequel.
Profar wasn’t just a buzzy prospect back in his puppy days, he was the prospect in baseball. Before the 2013 season, the Rangers farmhand was ranked baseball's No. 1 prospect by the three main clipboards — Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB.com.
Profar’s luck in the Texas organization was mostly bad. He missed all of the 2014 and 2015 seasons due to shoulder problems. He didn’t hit in 2016 or 2017, for whatever 377 plate appearances mean to you.
Profar did have a semi-breakout in 2018, his age-25 season. A .254/.335/.458 slash with 20 home runs and 10 steals won’t get you on magazine covers, but it’s a start. Perhaps he was on his way.
But the optimism was short-lived. The following year, in Oakland, Profar slumped to .218/.301/.410, although the category juice stayed (20 homers, nine steals). Maybe this photograph would never fully develop.
Let’s fast forward to 2022. Profar’s starting his third year in San Diego. He’s off to a .256/.388/.615 start, with eight walks against eight strikeouts (anyone who walks as much as they strike out gets my attention). He’s homered four times, scored seven runs, knocked in 11.
Profar’s skills were on full display Wednesday, as he homered, stole a base and collected an outfield assist in a 6-0 win over the Reds. (Here's the home run. Profar's handshake game is especially strong. Joy on a baseball field, always welcome.) He’s been liberally added in Yahoo leagues over the past few days (and we did write him up a few days ago), chasing over 50 percent rostered.
Don’t overlook the importance of Profar’s defense in all this, and that assist from Wednesday. Throughout Profar’s career, he’s been viewed as a rover on defense. He’s played every defensive position except pitcher and catcher. Even last year, the Padres used him at first base, second base and all three outfield spots.
This year, Profar has been a left fielder, period. He might finally have a full-time gig to call his own, a dedicated spot. And perhaps Profar can finally relax, knowing at long last he doesn’t have to sweat the daily lineup card. He’s started 12-of-14 games for the Padres, including the last eight.
You know all the caveats about April baseball analysis; short samples and all that. Maybe Profar will be yesterday’s news by the time summer kicks in. Perhaps the Padres lineup will get complicated when others heal. I can’t convince you this is the year the Profar story really sticks.
But we see plausible upside, and that’s when fantasy managers need to act. This is your last call on a fun story. Let’s see where it goes, Maverick.