Margot my Padres MVP for 2017

Rookie played great defense and emerged as a leadoff hitter

Margot my Padres MVP for 2017

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

Tis the season of postseason play and awards.

And I have my own thoughts when it comes to the Padres' awards for 2017.    

Starting today, I'm going to announce who I think deserves to be the Padres Most Valuable Player, Pitcher of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Reliever of the Year, Most Improved Padre and Most Inspirational Padre.

Hint: I'm spreading around my awards. No player wins more than one.    

So I'm starting with Most Valuable Player. And my pick is rookie center fielder Manuel Margot.

Hint II: This means someone else wins my Rookie of the Year award, although Margot is the logical choice there.   

Margot the MVP?   

Wil Myers became only the third Padres player to hit 30 homers and steal 20 bases in the same season (joining Steve Finley and Ryan Klesko). But the face of the franchise didn't have the year at the plate or in the field that even he expected to have.     

I really like what Margot brought to the Padres in 2017 at the age of 22 -- he turned 23 on Sept. 28 --offensively as well as defensively.    

Plus, he brought a vibe to the Padres. His play was spirited. He helped set a new tone. These Padres were more fun to watch -- and a large part of that was Margot, if it was going from first to third on a single or popping his bubble gum while making a long run and a catch while playing center.

The Padres were a better team when Margot was in center. And strength up the middle is a key to baseball success. I think the Padres have half of the equation in Margot and catcher Austin Hedges.

Margot's numbers weren't astounding. He hit .263 with a .313 on-base percentage. He had 18 doubles, seven triples and 13 homers. He stole 17 bases, scored 53 runs and drove in 39. The only category in which he led the Padres was triples -- and who knows how many Luis Perdomo might have finished with had he had 487 at-bats.   

But I give Margot high marks for consistency. Only twice all season did he go three straight games without a hit, including the end of the season when a 1-for-20 dropped his batting average from .272.    

Remember, Margot was 22 playing a difficult position as a rookie while hitting in the leadoff position.    

I agree with Padres manager Andy Green. I believe Margot's numbers will improve. Margot wants to be the best and works at it. He's going to reach base more in the future. When he does, he will steal more bases and score more runs.   

Margot was learning on the job this season. And he learned his job well. He is a quality center fielder and a developing offensive threat.    

I thought he was the best player on the field many of the nights he played.     

Personally, he was my Padres Most Valuable Player.