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Tommy Pham Traded to San Diego Padres Fantasy Baseball Impact

by Carmen Maiorano | @carmsclubhouse | Featured Writer
Dec 7, 2019

Tommy Pham is leaving an above-average offense for a below-average one.

In a move that signals the Padres are all in for 2020, Tommy Pham was traded from Tampa Bay to San Diego, along with hyped, partial two-way prospect Jake Cronenworth. The Rays received Hunter Renfroe and Xavier Edwards, a speedy prospect with league-average potential. Renfroe hit 33 bombs last year, but that’s the only value he provided in 2019. For purposes of this article, we will analyze how Pham’s fantasy value changes as a result of the trade.

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From the Trop to Petco

Analyzing park factors at several sites (FantasyPros, FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus, etc.), it is clear that Petco Park is a better place to hit than Tropicana Field. Using FantasyPros Park Factors, Petco is a slightly above-average park to hit singles and triples in, and essentially league average for homers. Tropicana pales in comparison, as it is well below-average in all types of hits. This should give Pham a small boost in 2020.

However, any analysis of Pham has to factor in his historical vision problems.  He performed quite better in night games than day games in 2018, sporting an .846 OPS and 26 percent strikeout when the lights were on, versus an .803 OPS with an ugly 32 percent strikeout rate during the day. This issue seemed to get fixed in 2019, as seen by his .872 OPS and 20 percent strikeout rate in the day, versus his .782 OPS and 22 percent strikeout rate at night. However, Pham played a good chunk of those games in a dome, in which the sun would not affect his vision like it did at Busch Stadium when he was a Cardinal. Given that his main venue will be in sunny San Diego, I am slightly concerned that the vision problems could come back. As a result, a strikeout rate resembling his 2018 (24.6 percent) instead of his 2019 (18.8 percent) is not out of the question.

Lineup Construction

Unfortunately for Pham, he is leaving an above-average offense for a below-average one. The Rays ranked ninth in all of baseball with a 102 wRC+, 14 points higher than the Padres. Of course, Pham was a big reason for that (121 wRC+). If the Padres can keep Fernando Tatis Jr. healthy and get bounce-back seasons from Wil Myers and newly acquired Jurickson Profar, the Padres offense could end up in the top third of the league.

Pham figures to be sandwiched between Tatis and Manny Machado in the order – not a bad place to be. While the AL scores more runs overall due to the DH, the NL actually scored more runs from the second spot in the order. As a result, the move to a worse offense is slightly offset by the nature of the NL.

We also have to consider trends for team stolen bases. The Rays ranked eighth in MLB with 94 stolen bases, and the Padres ranked 15th, with 70 swiped bags. Now, shifting Pham from Tampa to San Diego essentially offsets this difference. Further, we do not know how much Padres’ new manager Jayce Tingler will have his team run. Tingler’s previous front office and on-field experience came with the Rangers, who stole the most bases in MLB in 2019, but rank in the bottom third of the league in steals since 2015. Obviously, we don’t know the input that Tingler had on the running game, so it would be foolish to adjust Pham’s stolen base projection based on these contradicting trends.

Division and League Strength

Of course, Pham is familiar with the National League, having spent the majority of his career with the Cardinals. He should not have much trouble adapting back to NL pitching. When we think about the move to the NL West specifically, I drool over the thought that he gets to hit in Coors for nine games. If you barrel up the ball, Dodger Stadium is the second-best place in all of baseball to hit a home run. He will also have to take his talent to the unfriendly confines of Oracle Park, where hitting goes to die. Essentially, Pham will have 18 games in elite hitter’s parks, but he will miss the AL East’s holistic offensive environment. The change in league and divisions is likely the variable to least impact his fantasy value.

My Projection

PAs HR R RBI AVG OBP SLG SB
My Projection 585 22 91 67 .277 .372 .469 21
Depth Charts 630 24 89 78 .270 .365 .461 18
Steamer 637 24 90 79 .270 .365 .461 18

 

Pham has dealt with myriad injuries throughout his big league career, most recently hand and elbow injuries in 2019. As a result, I’m not projecting him for more than 600 plate appearances, even if he is hitting second in the order. The good news is that I am more of a believer than the projections in his underlying skills, as I am higher on his slash line and stolen bases. I have Pham’s combined R+RBI total lower than the projections as a result of the trade to a worse lineup. My current projections have Pham as a top 55 hitter, and early NFBC ADP has Pham inside the top 50.

The Too Early Mocks have Pham as the 40th overall hitter in ADP. For reference, Pham finished as the 55th hitter in 2019, per Razzball. Based on these early ADPs, many are believing that Pham will stay healthy for a full season, which I don’t see as realistic. Matt Olson is currently going after him – don’t let that happen in your league.

More Fantasy Baseball Impacts from Recent Transactions:

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Carmen Maiorano is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Carmen, check out his archive and follow him @cmaiorano3.

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