The Padres’ newest and brightest star, Manny Machado, is widely considered one of the best players in the game and the numbers agree.
The ink has barely dried on Manny Machado’s record-breaking deal with the San Diego Padres and it’s time to take a look at just how good of a player Machado is. The Padres have not had many superstars to call their own and Machado certainly fits the bill.
Can the term “superstar” be defined and quantified by statistics? According to FanGraphs, a player earns the distinction of “superstar” when he achieves at least a 5 WAR or better.
In terms of wRC+, 115 is considered above average and anything 140 or higher is considered “great.”
Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) is a measurement of defensive excellence and any player who achieves a +10 or higher is considered “great.”
With these metrics and standards in mind, let’s dive into just how good Manny Machado really is. First, with WAR (Wins Above Replacement). Manny Machado has averaged 4.8 WAR in his first six full seasons in the big leagues and that number jumps to 5.4 when just looking at the last four seasons, which is also a decent sample size.
Here is how his 21.7 WAR since 2015 stacks up against some other prominent names in the league.
That’s right. According to WAR, the Padres have a player in their lineup that is more valuable than Nolan Arenado, Bryce Harper and 2018 NL MVP Christian Yelich over the past four seasons.
This coming season will be Machado’s age 26 season. He accumulated 30.2 WAR by age 25, which is more than Hall of Famers Ivan Rodriguez (23.3), Frank Thomas (23.0) and Reggie Jackson (22.2) had by age 25 and more than future Hall of Famers Miguel Cabrera (22.2) and Derek Jeter (19.4).
The best thing about Machado is that he is just now entering his prime and should have several 5-plus WAR seasons ahead of him.
In 2015 and 2016, Machado posted a 6.6 and 6.3 WAR respectively. The last time a Padres player had back-to-back six-win seasons? Never. What about consecutive five-win seasons? 2004-2005, Brian Giles, which also happens to be the era the Padres last made the playoffs.
Machado’s 6.6-WAR 2015 season would have been the fifth-highest in Padres single-season history.
Machado’s 30.2 career WAR already would be second all-time in Padres franchise history, only to Tony Gwynn’s 65.
Manny Machado has a lifetime 120 wRC+ and a 128 wRC+ since 2015. A career 120 wRC+ is better than the likes of Dale Murphy, Derek Jeter, Harold Baines, and Nolan Arenado.
Since 2015, here is where Machado’s 128 wRC+ stacks up:
(min. 1,500 plate appearances)
Once again, he is slightly better than Nolan Arenado, who is considered the best third baseman in baseball. Machado is right in the thick of it with the best bats in the game. This is also taking into account his “down” 2017 season when he posted a 103 wRC+. The average wRC+ of his 2015, 2016 and 2018 seasons is an absurd 136.
What about the people who just like the plain old fashioned home run numbers? Machado is among the best there too. He has 175 career home runs, which would be the highest total ever by a Padres hitter. His 142 home runs since 2015 is one of the best in all of baseball.
He has hit as many home runs as Mike Trout since 2015 and more than Bryce Harper. Let it sink in that a player of this caliber is now in the Padres lineup; only Arenado is higher on this list among third basemen.
He has posted four consecutive 30-plus homer seasons, only Adrian Gonzalez has ever done that in Padres history.
Machado is great not only because of his powerful bat but because of his slick fielding skills at the hot corner. He has produced arguably the most highlight-reel plays at third base than anyone else in the game today. Since his first full season in 2013, only Arenado has more Defensive Runs saved at 109 than Machado’s 77. Adrian Beltre, a future Hall of Famer, sits at a distant third with 53.
Machado has averaged 13 DRS at third base, which by FanGraphs’ chart, is considered between great and Gold Glove caliber. He averages a number most need to achieve for Gold Glove consideration. He had an other-worldly 35 DRS at third in 2013 when he rightfully won the American League Platinum Glove award.
(DRS since 2013 among 3B)
Lastly, here is where Manny Machado would stand on some of the all-time lists in Padres history had he played his previous seven seasons in San Diego.
DRS at 3B
Machado is a four-time All-Star. The Padres have not sent one player to the All-Star Game four times since Trevor Hoffman. San Diego has not had any player in the starting lineup on the field (exempting Wil Myers at DH in 2016) since Tony Gwynn in 1998, Machado has started twice.
Clearly, Machado is one of the best players the Padres have ever had on their team and he has not even played an inning for San Diego yet. The trends are there that suggest Machado won’t take a nosedive, even with playing in less of a sandbox like Camden Yards in Baltimore. He has been a model of consistency and there’s nothing here to suggest it will change with the Padres. By all accounts, he could quickly become the best third baseman in Padres history.
Native of Escondido, CA. Lived in San Diego area for 20 years. Padres fan since childhood (mid-90s). I have been writing since 2014. I currently live near Seattle, WA and am married to a Seattle sports girl. I wore #19 on my high school baseball team for Tony Gwynn. I am a stats and sports history nerd. I attended BYU on the Idaho campus. I also love Star Wars.