With Juan Soto in lineup, Padres star Manny Machado returning to MVP form

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Padres and fans were certainly concerned when star third baseman Manny Machado went down with what appeared to be a brutal ankle injury on Father’s Day, June 19.

Machado doesn’t miss many games. He plays every day and is one of the most reliable and available players in the entire sport. He missed 10 days due to this ankle injury. Clearly, even after returning, Machado was nowhere near 100 percent. He likely still isn’t.

His numbers suffered. Between June 19 through August 2, he batted a measly .194 with a below average 90 wRC+. It was about as badly as Machado has struggled in a Padres uniform.

Then came Juan Soto. A.J. Preller caught his “white whale,” so to speak in the touted perennial All-Star outfielder. It was assumed that Soto would hit in the lineup ahead of Machado, thus creating more opportunities for Machado to come to the plate with runners on base.

While the Padres are just 6-8 since acquiring Soto, it certainly has not been the fault of the 2022 Home Run Derby champion or San Diego’s prized third baseman. The formula with him being an on-base machine ahead of Machado has worked beautifully.

Quite simply, since Soto first played a game in Padres brown and gold on August 3, Machado has returned to MVP form. It’s hard to believe that those two developments are mere coincidences.

Since August 3, Soto’s first game as a Padre, Machado’s numbers are something one would struggle to get unless they turned up the batting “sliders” on MLB The Show and played on Rookie mode.

.414 3 15 1.184 229

He is back to the MVP form he was at during the first few months of the season. During April and May, he had a .988 OPS and 176 wRC+ and was largely considered the odds-on favorite for NL MVP.

Even with his ankle still not 100 percent, the very presence of Soto in the lineup seems to have ignited Machado once again. Since Soto’s arrival, Machado has driven in Soto for an RBI three times. He’s advanced him on base several times as well. This is possible because of Soto’s elite on-base ability. In 14 games, Soto owns a stellar .469 on-base percentage and .949 OPS with the Padres.

To put Machado’s recent surge into context, Machado leads all of baseball in fWAR (1.3), doubles (9), and RBI (15), and is top three in batting average (.414) and OPS (1.184) in that time frame.

In regard to Machado against the other MVP candidates in the National League, he is third in fWAR (5.5). That is just 0.5 away from the current leader and rival third baseman, Nolan Arenado. Machado is fifth in batting average, OPS, and wRC+. If the season were to end today, it’s a safe bet that Machado would finish no worse than fifth in MVP voting.

This development certainly became more important after the dreadful news of Fernando Tatis Jr.‘s 80-game suspension for PEDs came down. Machado and Soto will be asked to shoulder the majority of the weight on offense moving forward. If the Padres are to make the playoffs this season, it will be because Soto and Machado are getting on base and driving in runs at an elite level.

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Nick Lee
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.
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5 months ago

The Padres are done. They are under.500 against sub-.500 teams since the trade. That is REALLY hard to do.

Random Dude
Random Dude
5 months ago

Sadly, this team performed better before the trades and arrival of the new players. They can’t even beat teams that are tanking!! There is no way this team is going anywhere this year.

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