The Padres might be creating a bit of a problem for people around baseball: It's going to be hard to figure out which of their players should win the National League Rookie of the Year Award.
I know, it's still April, but Saturday night we got a look at two (possibly three) kids who are already staking a claim to be the best freshman in big league baseball in a 12-2 romp over the New York Mets at Petco Park.
On the mound, left-hander Joey Lucchesi made his 6th big league start. He might be the best pitcher in the Padres starting rotation already. Lucchesi went 5.2 innings, struck out six, and only allowed two runs on a long Yoenis Cespedes home run.
Lucchesi leads all National League rookie pitchers in earned run average, strikeouts, batting average against, and on-base percentage, and picked up his 3rd win. Not bad for a kid who just last year was the Opening Day starter for single-A Lake Elsinore in the California League.
But can his numbers stand up Christian Villanueva?
Villanueva ran his hitting streak to 11 games with a 1st inning home run, a 2-run blast to open the scoring off Mets starter Jason Vargas. It was his 8th home run of the season so Christian leads all National League rookies in home runs, runs batted in, hits, and batting average.
But there’s another candidate that might be sneaking in by hitting tape measure home runs.
Outfielder Franchy Cordero unloaded on a 3-run home run in the 4th inning, a 459-foot missile to knock Vargas out of the game. It was the 6th dinger of the year for Cordero and half of them have gone more than 450 feet. Nobody else in baseball has that many long home runs.
Only Villanueva has more homers and RBI as a rookie than Cordero does. Villanueva is 25 years old … Lucchesi is 24 … and Cordero is 23.
But the youngster who had the best night is not even a rookie. Catcher Austin Hedges, also 25 years old, had three hits and drove in a career-high five runs.
There is one concerning health note. Outfielder Wil Myers left the game with a left oblique strain and could be a candidate for the disabled list. If he has to go back on the shelf a likely candidate to take his spot is 26-year-old OF Travis Jankowski, who's hitting .363 with Triple-A El Paso.
The Padres can win the series on Sunday when Bryan Mitchell gets the start against Zack Wheeler.