Padres with one of the best SS/3B combos in MLB

Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The Padres have one of the most talented left sides of an infield, and it will show in 2020.

At the start of the 2019 season, the Padres boasted All-Star Manny Machado at third base and announced that the young phenom Fernando Tatis Jr. made the Opening Day roster. Quickly, it became evident that Tatis was there to stay as he hit .300 with a .910 OPS in March and April.

Machado’s reputation preceded him as a four-time All-Star and two-time Glove Glover.

Tatis and Machado, when Tatis was healthy, played like the best shortstop-third base tandem in all of baseball. Machado hit 32 home runs with his fifth consecutive season of 3-plus WAR while playing solid defense at third base. Tatis took the league by storm, hitting .317 with a .969 OPS and swatting 22 home runs in just 84 games.

Now during the offseason, Tatis is furiously rehabbing after his season was cut short by injury and looks to be healthier and more durable in 2020, while Machado is extremely unsatisfied with how his 2019 season ended, hitting .193 in September.

That is plenty of fuel in the fire of 2020 becoming a great season for the left side of the Padres infield.

FanGraphs released projections position by position and combining the projected WAR of the shortstop and third base positions. The Padres are projected to have the third-best combo in the National League and eighth in all of baseball.

(via FanGraphs)

Rank Team Total WAR of Left Side
1 Astros 12.1
2 Indians 11.1
3 Athletics 9.9
4 Red Sox 9.8
5 Angels 9.5
6 Rockies 9
7 Dodgers 8.6
8 Padres 8.5
9 Twins 8.5
10 Cubs 7.7

Of course, these are merely projections and not reality, but it does show the high opinion baseball has for the San Diego duo.

One could also argue that the Padres will boast a better tandem than the two players handling shortstop and third base for that Blue Team Up North. Tatis had a better WAR (4.2) than Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager (4.0), who also played 50 more games than San Diego’s rookie phenom.

Justin Turner is now 35 years old and bound for a decline at third base in L.A. 2019 saw Turner produce his lowest WAR in five seasons while Machado is still only 27 years old and is in the middle of his prime, averaging a 121 OPS+ and 4.1 WAR per season in the last three years.

The Rockies situation is also in flux with the relationship between the team and all-world third baseman Nolan Arenado seemingly strained. If he were to be moved to a team with a weaker infield, the Padres would all of a sudden have the best left side of the infield in the National League.

The American League has an exceptional crop of these tandems. The Astros’ Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa (although we will find out just how legitimate they are this year), Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez in Cleveland and Oakland, Matt Chapman, and Marcus Semien are a formidable pair.

In 2020, Major League Baseball will be talking about Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. in the same breath as those All-Star tandems.

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Kevin F
Kevin F
3 years ago

Nick I always enjoy your work. Thanks so much for sharing.

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