It was a tale of two seasons for Texas Rangers utility man Jurickson Profar last season. He had a great first half and a less-than-stellar second, but a glimmer of hope still remains for 2017.
After missing two seasons at the MLB level, Texas Rangers infielder/outfielder Jurickson Profar made a solid return in 2016. Recurring shoulder injuries and a major surgery kept him from playing in 2014 and 2015. But last season, he bolted back onto the scene with the Rangers and thanks to a great start, saw regular playing time.
What we saw from Profar in 2016
The road to recovery for Profar was not an easy one. Shoulder problems require a lot of rest, which can lead to atrophy and then of course, may never feel the same afterward. Yet, Profar overcame all of that and made his way back to the field in 2016. He looked good doing it, too.
Profar returned to the field as a Texas Ranger on May 27 at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Batting in the leadoff slot and playing second base, he went a meager 1-for-five with a lone single in the fifth inning. It wasn’t much, but the fact that took the field, had a hit against a playoff opponent and finished the game was a major milestone.
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He played every game in May from there on out and batted .348 in 28 plate appearances. In those five games, he had a triple and a homer, proving that raw talent he once showed was still present. That momentum carried forward into June, as well.
In his first full month of play after his injury, Profar batted .333 with a .383 on base percentage and a .467 slugging percentage. He didn’t show much power or extra base hit ability in those 22 games, but that wasn’t really his game to begin with. However, he did show a lot of consistency in the months of May and June.
He also took advantage of Globe Life Park, batting .280 at home in 2016. Four of his five home runs came in Arlington, where he also had a healthy .367 on base percentage. He was also a valuable defensive commodity for the Rangers over the course of the year.
In 2016, Profar played all four infield positions, plus left field. He started more games at third base than any other position last season, but he also had the most trouble there. In 25 games at “the hot corner,” he committed four of his seven errors for the year. He showed some consistent comfort playing second base, his natural position, where he had two errors.
As a left fielder, he did well in 14 games. He didn’t put up any jaw-dropping numbers playing outfield, but he got the job done. Considering the options the Rangers had there, it was an admirable job and there is room for improvement.
What we’ll see from Profar in 2017
This season has the makings of a breakout year for Profar. At just 24 years of age, he still has plenty of his career ahead of him. While his final numbers weren’t staggering last season, he showed that he can put in the work and play well. As it stands now, the Texas Rangers have a hole to fill in left field. Profar will likely be the guy to do that for the time being.
Profar’s highest value comes in his versatility. He’s a guy that’s just happy to be on the field and contributing. As long as he gets regular playing time, he’s going to get on base consistently.
He’ll also find a rhythm playing regularly at one or two positions. This should help him fundamentally as he gets into a routine and finds what suits him well on game days.
His batting average and on base percentages will rise this season, along with his slugging percentage. He’ll find more gaps and hit the ball more squarely as he continues to find his stride. By season’s end, he’ll hit about .275 with an on base of around .350. He’ll catch some power here and there on his way to about eight home runs and defensively, he’ll start to make some more spectacular plays as he grows more comfortable.
He has come back just as strong and just as fast as he originally was. The question will still remain as to whether he’s “up to speed” day-to-day. He is and will prove that as the season moves on. This probably won’t be an all-star season for Profar, but that’s not really what the Rangers need from him. They just need everyday reliability and he has that.