There’s been so much noise around the San Diego Padres for a few years now, it’s quite understandable that Manny Machado has sort of sunk under the radar. There has been a raft of buzz-worthy players acquired by the Padres since Machado in 2019. He didn’t win an MVP like his fellow prize of that particular free agency period, Bryce Harper. Machado was only really signed to be Fernando Tatis Jr.’s running buddy.
And yet it’s been Machado who has been San Diego’s guiding light this season, especially since Tatis’ body and mind can’t seem to get unfucked. Machado is just about the only power threat in the Padres lineup, especially since Juan Soto can only seem to walk and occasionally single these days. Machado slugged .531 this season, and only teammate Brandon Drury came within 100 points of him.
He also happened to be one of the best defensive 3rd basemen in the game, as BaseballSavant.com has him the fourth-best in Outs Above Average, and FanGraphs the fifth in Defensive Runs. Throw it all together and Machado is an MVP finalist, though he’ll probably lose out to one of the Cardinals twins Arenado or Goldschmidt. FanGraphs had him the best player in the National League, Baseball-Reference had him second.
And yet it still feels like there are too many knives out for Machado. Maybe it’s because he kind of acted like a prick in the NLCS with the Dodgers. Maybe it’s because a few clubs used their mouthpieces in the media to leak out that they didn’t think Machado always played that hard to justify not paying him when he was available. Maybe it’s something else.
The Padres certainly don’t care, as Machado came to the rescue in Game 2 against the Dodgers, a game the Padres simply had to have. He homered in the first inning off Clayton Kershaw, which is exactly the kind of pick-me-up a team down 1-0 in a series needs right off the bat. He would add a double later in the game, driving in another run, and provided some nifty defensive play to help the Padres get out of a jam in the seventh.
Machado traded in a couple more strikeouts (20.7 percent) this season for more power this season. He swung at more pitches both inside (77 percent, a career-high) and outside (34 percent, highest in eight years) the zone. But clearly the Padres needed it, given the dearth of anyone else getting the ball out of the park in the lineup (San Diego was 21st overall in homers as a team). As we know, in the postseason, whoever homers more tends to win, given that stringing rallies together with singles is near impossible.
Machado has been everything the Padres paid for, even if it seems like 17 years ago when they did, given that in the interim they’ve signed or traded for Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Soto, Josh Hader, Austin Nola, Mike Clevinger, and a few others who aren’t even around anymore. Good things happen when teams do what it takes to bring great players to their city. They should do it more often.
Of course, Machado’s big-time performance on the biggest stage did get usurped by one… creature:
While we all suffered through far too many “Goose Gossage” jokes, this particular bird is lucky the grounds crew got to it to remove him/her peacefully instead of Tony Gonsolin sprinting out there to eat it alive with his hands in front of the whole crowd as is Gonsolin family tradition.
And finally, hockey’s officially back now, I guess, because we’ve got GOALIE HITS: