The Padres are fading fast in the playoff race, but that doesn’t mean you should tune this team out.
With the Padres now at 51-60 and a season-high nine games under .500, the playoff race of 2019 is all but dead. That’s what happens when you teeter around .500 until an 8-16 month, which San Diego just finished in July.
The Friars are 6-15 in the second half of the season and have not won a series since July 4-7 against the Dodgers. Things are looking bleak, but for the first time in what seems like forever, these Friars are watchable and fun, even when they lose. It’s easy to see this team is building towards a very bright, not-so-distant future with the talent they have accumulated.
Here are five reasons to watch as the season begins its final third.
1. Fernando Tatis Jr. is one of the most exciting players in baseball
Win or lose; it is almost guaranteed that Fernando Tatis Jr. will do something every day to impact the game. He is not only the most exciting rookie in baseball, but he has quickly turned into one of the most exhilarating players in all of baseball, rookie or otherwise. Tatis currently leads the team in batting average (.323), triples (5), OPS (.970) and wRC+ (151). Among rookies with at least 300 plate appearances, he leads all rookies in slugging, OPS, wRC+, and WAR.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) July 30, 2019
He is the quintessential five-tool player. He can hit a game-changing bomb over 450 feet, steal a base in a tight game, score a run from third on a pop fly, make a diving over-the-shoulder catch at shortstop or fire a bullet across his body to nail a runner at first. Besides his other-worldly abilities, he is one of those players that could make even the stiffest of curmudgeons smile. His personality is infectious, in the best possible way.
A talent like Tatis deserves to be watched, no matter the score of the game or the record of the team. Major League Baseball needs to do a better job of broadcasting Tatis nationally, and that starts with his own fans tuning in, day in and day out. The baseball world has taken notice of Tatis, and he is a treat to watch every single day.
2. Manny Machado is a San Diego Padre
Just to Fernando Tatis Jr.’s right on the infield is another all-world talent in Manny Machado, the $300 million man. There is not a shortstop-third base combination in baseball that is more fun to watch than Tatis and Machado. It helps that they are buddies and Tatis continually draws comparisons to a young Machado, but perhaps even better.
Machado has been as advertised in his first season in a Padres uniform. His bat has produced Machado-like numbers, with 26 home runs (on pace for a career-high 38), with a .852 OPS and 122 wRC+. His defense has dazzled, routinely dropping jaws with mystical plays few mortals can make and has a solid 4 Defensive Runs Saved at third base. His 3.1 WAR is second-best on the team next to Tatis.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) April 13, 2019
Machado is a leader on the field and in the clubhouse. He routinely comes through in the clutch, as shown by his .354 batting average and 1.099 OPS with runners in scoring position this year. Despite not making the All-Star team, Machado has played at an All-Star level, and it’s hard to ask much more of him.
Like Tatis, Machado is capable of impacting the game in multiple ways every day. Baseball fans should have serious FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) about missing an at-bat or a ground ball that involves Machado.
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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.