By Nick Recchia
3B -Manny Machado
Photo Credit: Mark Collier
In a year of oddities and abnormalities abound amongst society, a bright light in San Diego has been the arrival of the young upstart Padres. With a young superstar in Fernando Tatis Jr., statcast star Trent Grisham and NL R.O.Y. favorite Jake Cronenworth, the team seems young and built to last. The surprise for most fans has been the revelation of the team's three core veterans in Manny Machado, Eric Hosmer, and Wil Myers. You could argue that the three are having career years respectively.
Wil Myers went from the trade rumor mill over the last two seasons with a proposed albatross contract to a key contributor on a team with post season sights in close distance. His OPS of .918 so far would serve as a career high while his OBP sits in the .350+ range. It's been a reenergized Myers in RF, finally with a position to play everyday and not the proverbial mixed bag of lineups and positions for him to play at. Previous management ideas of Wil playing LF, CF, RF, 1B, and 3B left much to the imagination and ultimately contributed to his confidence eroding in previous seasons. Now with him penciled into RF everyday you’ve seen what grades as an above average RF with 1 OAA (Outs Above Average). Career highs in Barrel % (15.6% - Top 8% of MLB) and a drop in K% from last year to this at 34.2% to 26.2% supports the improvements as sustainable adjustments.
Eric Hosmer has recreated his contract year performance in Kansas City with an OPS of .894 and eight home runs in only 127 plate appearances. His power surge has been stoked by a retooling of his swing this spring and a buy in of the launch angle revolution which has seen his 2020 launch angle at 8.7 degree compared to the previous two seasons at -1.4 and 2.1 degrees respectively. While still below the league average of 11.9, it's a stark improvement over previous campaigns. His ability to get runs home has been a strong suit in his Padres career and this year is no different with him at the time of this writing sitting fourth in the National League in RBI with 32, behind a couple of team mates.
Finally, Manny Machado has looked like a star reborn this year. After a whirlwind offseason last year that saw him finally find a home during spring training and a new home, he finally looks like “Manny”. There is a comfort and relaxation at the plate and in the field that sometimes looked forced last year, trying to justify the mega contract I’m sure. This year, he is settled in and looking better then ever. In fact, his OPS of .948 is currently right behind the .963 OPS he had in his last All Star season with the Orioles in 2018 before being traded up the 5 freeway from Petco. His season should be warranting MVP votes even with Tatis garnering most of the attention. Manny is tied for fourth in the NL with 12 home runs and is by far the most productive third baseman in the NL. His return to dominance has helped propel the team to new heights and has provided needed protection for the youngest superstar in the game in Fernando Tatis Jr. It wasn’t that long ago that people spoke about Manny in the same regard as a 19 year old in 2012 who made his MLB debut with the Baltimore Orioles.
Now as a seasoned veteran and wise sage of the team at the ripe age of 28, he sees the team he was sold on by AJ Preller in the offseason two winters ago. The hot talent lava has landed with the veterans supporting and leading them. The return of the “Rock Star” GM has helped propel this team even further after the trade deadline and now the team has hunger pains that can only be fulfilled with the “big cake”!
Longtime baseball enthusiast who tries to incorporate new age analytics into old school baseball strategy and how the two can coexist in winning harmony. Also a minor league aficionado who delves deep into the farm to share the love of the game from the lower rungs of the minor leagues and up. Always up for sports talk.