After an MVP-like season in 2020, Manny Machado is excited with all the Padres’ moves made in the offseason and can’t wait for the season to get going.
Following in Eric Hosmer‘s footsteps in terms of signing a long-term contract with the Padres, Manny Machado erased the ‘small market’ moniker surrounding the ballclub. However, like Hosmer, Machado’s first year in San Diego didn’t go as planned. On paper, his .256/.334/.462 slash line with 32 home runs and 85 RBI’s is impressive. But a closer look would suggest it was a down year for Machado, whose batting average was well-below career norms. He also led the entire league with 24 ground-into-double-plays.
In the early goings of the 2020 season, it looked like 2019 was carrying over as Machado owned a .226 average through the first eight games of the year. But the 28-year-old surged ahead in August and September, posting .324 and .305 averages, respectively. He finished with a .304/.370/.580 slash line with 16 home runs and 47 RBI’s while playing in all 60 games. While he came up short in the NL-MVP voting, Machado took home his first Silver Slugger Award and earned Gold Glove consideration.
Entering the 2021 season, Machado was impressed with all of the moves that general manager A.J. Preller made over the offseason.
“He’s [Preller] known for this,” Machado explained. “He’s done it in the past, and he showed it last year. I think he traded, what, 10-15 players last year? He wants to win, and he knows the team we’ve put around and done performance-wise out on that field. You know, he went out there and made this team that much more better. We’re excited for all the moves he did, and we’re ready for the season to get going.”
Machado played a big factor in the Padres’ remarkable improvement from the 2019 season. The Padres made the postseason for the first time since 2006, topping the Cardinals in the Wild Card round but ultimately falling to the Dodgers in the NLDS.
Now that they’ve had a taste of the postseason and an improved roster, it’s fair to say expectations are World Series or bust in 2021.
“Everyone knows we have a good team now,” Machado said confidently. “We’re just going to go out there and play baseball. We’re going to go out there and play every single day like it’s [game] 162 and try to be the last team standing at the end of the year. Don’t put too much pressure on ourselves…We just gotta try to stay healthy, play every game day-by-day, like it’s our last game. We just know we have a good team, and we’re just going to go out there, and we’re going to compete every single day.”
Of course, the immediate goal is to best the Dodgers, as the rivalry between the two clubs figures to be at an all-time high for the foreseeable future, with both clubs sporting talented rosters. The Dodgers made a splash this offseason as well, signing Trevor Bauer on a multi-year deal, and Machado is one guy on the Padres’ roster who has had a lot of success off him.
“He’s a good pitcher,” Machado said of Bauer. “He got paid as well, what he deserved. It’s going to be fun. You know, they got a good team over there, they have a good [pitching] staff. It’s going to be exciting baseball, and it’s going to be exciting in the upcoming years.”
The Padres will open their season at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks, with the first series against the Dodgers coming on April 16, a three-game set at Petco Park.