My answer -- Chase Headley -- certainly had something to do with the Padres's dearth of talent.
Headley just seemed in a good place. That was my takeaway coming out of 2011.
A switch-hitter, he'd come to know both his game and the terrain.
Too often an easy out against dime-a-dozen lefties, he figured out last year how to trigger his right-handed swing and now was able to bang fastballs that used to go by him.
He was 27, a peak year for many ballplayers. Petco Park held no more unpleasant surprises for him. After being misplaced in left field, he'd settled into third base. He told me he was set with his playing weight, a challenge early in his career when the front office insisted he bulk up. He predicted several more home runs than the four he hit in 2011.
Does Headley belong in the All-Star Game? You might think nobody from the Padres (20-41) belongs in the All-Star Game. Or maybe you consider Headley too bland for the honor. Other than draw walks, what does he do? That's a question I've been asked. You may prefer Will Venable or Huston Street.
Your opinion about Headley probably is shaped by how much you value on-base percentage, especially if that OBP draws heavily on walks. Headley is on-basing .383. That's third among National League third basemen (the leader and presumptive All-Star starter, David Wright of the Mets, is at .455). Headley is hitting with thump, too, with seven home runs and 16 doubles. For what it's worth, only one other NL third baseman, Hanley Ramirez of the Marlins, has more stolen bases than his seven.
Only two other NL third basemen -- Wright (3.7) and Martin Prado (2.9) of the Braves -- have more win shares than Headley (2.8) in FanGraphs.com's rankings.