Schimpf combines power and patience at plate

Schimpf combines power and patience at plate

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Suffice it to say, Ryan Schimpf will never be known for his batting average.

Among the 2016 numbers on the back of Schimpf's baseball card, some jump out as impressive and others are downright incredible. But his batting average -- which hovered around .220 and settled at .217 -- isn't going to turn any heads.

"Everybody would love to hit .300," Schimpf said after Thursday's workout at the Peoria Sports Complex. "Who wouldn't?"

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Fair point, but Schimpf isn't about to sacrifice the other aspects of his skill set to achieve that goal. Last year, Schimpf posted a .336 on-base percentage and a .533 slugging percentage in his rookie season.

Schimpf's 456-foot homer

Power and patience have long been the cornerstones of Schimpf's approach, and he became a folk hero in San Diego because of his ability to hit for extra bases. Schimpf finished 2016 with more homers (20) than singles (18).

"I'm definitely trying to drive the ball every time," Schimpf added. "I'm not just trying to work it over to left field. It's just kind of how I've always been, really. You'd always like to be a little better and do more things offensively. But really, when I'm at the plate, I'm just trying to stay within myself,f and trying to drive the ball. Every time."

If that's the goal, Schimpf executed it nicely last season, recording 42 extra-base hits in just 276 at-bats.

Isolated power, which measures the number of extra bases per at-bat, is perhaps the best metric to quantify Schimpf's uniqueness. The list of players with a single-season "ISO" higher than Schimpf's .315 mark is a who's who of sluggers -- Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton, Chris Davis, Jose Bautista and Jim Thome.

Schimpf, mind you, is a 5-foot-9 second baseman.

Power has always been an integral part of Schimpf's offensive game. Including the Minors, he's averaged 25 dingers during the last five years.

Now, he's out to prove that his breakout 2016 season was no fluke. This spring, Schimpf is looking to simplify his swing while maintaining his elite power. In other words, this spring isn't much different from the last one.

"I always try to approach [Spring Training] the same," Schimpf said. "I don't want to do anything different. I've always just worked as hard as I can to get the most out of my body.

"It's different a little bit in the aspect of coming back with the guys from last year and the established relationships, and trying to grow together as a team."

With a healthy Cory Spangenberg in camp, Schimpf figures to be locked into a tightly contested race for the starting second base job. It's arguably the most interesting Padres positional battle this spring.

Spangenberg's athletic grab

But Schimpf has never concerned himself with external factors -- just like he isn't spending any time worrying about his batting average.

"I really don't put numbers on anything going into a season," Schimpf said. "I just work as hard as I can to put myself in the right position. Everything comes together in the end if you stick to your approach."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.