The Three Amigos. The Bee Gees. Alvin and the Chipmunks. Destiny’s Child. The world has seen plenty of famous trios come and go.
None of those could hit a baseball like the new big three in San Diego. The Padres shook the baseball world to its very core when the president of baseball operations and general manager of the team, A.J. Preller, swung a deal with the Washington Nationals for 23-year-old All-Star Juan Soto and switch-hitting slugger Josh Bell.
Yes, it was a king’s ransom the Padres sent to the Nationals for Soto and Bell. There was no other way. However, it was an opportunity to add Soto to the already dynamic duo of Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado in the Padres lineup. The Padres have had some special players come through town, but at no time have the Padres boasted three hitters of this talent level at the very peak of their abilities at the same time.
According to FanGraphs, since 2020, the Padres now have three of the top 10 players in fWAR. Juan Soto comes out at sixth in the league with 12.1. Machado is right behind him at seventh with 11.5. Tatis, despite having not even played a single inning in 2022, checks in at ninth with 10.6
Since 2020, only Aaron Judge has more bWAR than Soto among position players in all of baseball.
Soto himself garners comparisons to Ted Williams due to his elite plate discipline and contact skills. Padres fans saw a guy like that come through already, from 1982-2001, in Tony Gwynn. Soto is that good in regard to plate discipline. Minimum of 2,000 career plate appearances, Soto ranks ninth all-time in on-base percentage at .427. That is higher than the likes of Gwynn, Mickey Mantle, and Stan Musial.
Don’t forget about Tatis, who seems to be heading towards his return to the lineup finally, perhaps sometime next week. Minimum 1,000 plate appearances, Tatis ranks 18th all-time in OPS at .965. Higher than all-time greats like Jim Thome and Willie Mays. A player that is just two spots higher at 16? Juan Soto. His new teammate.
Then there is Manny Machado- baseball’s modern version of the Iron Man. Between 2015 to last year (excluding 2020), he averaged just under 158 games played per season. All that while playing Gold Glove-level defense at third. He owns a .845 OPS during his time in San Diego, which ranks 10th in franchise history. He is now a six-time All-Star. With over 1,500 hits and 250 home runs at just 30 years old, he is building a Hall of Fame career and is a clubhouse leader.
Together, these three are a downright nightmare to face. Each brings something a little different to the table offensively. Soto, as mentioned, has Hall-of-Fame-level plate discipline and patience, leading the league in walks last year and so far this year as well. He can also provide some pop. His 21 homers now lead the Padres team.
Tatis brings elite power and slug ability. He can leave the yard anywhere, anytime, as proven by leading the NL with 42 homers last year despite missing 32 games.
Machado is a little bit of everything, and you know he is going to be there every day, giving pitchers a relentless at-bat. He sprays the ball to all fields with power.
It’s not hard to imagine Soto batting ahead of Machado and Tatis when the star shortstop returns in the next week or so. He is an on-base machine. Getting a guy that gets on base consistently over 40 percent of the time ahead of two of the best sluggers in baseball is a recipe for success.
Each one of this fearsome threesome can bring the thump to the lineup on any given day. All three have at least one 30-homer season on their major league resume so far. All three have received MVP votes within the last two seasons. There are nine All-Star selections between the three, despite their average age being 25.
In 2020, Machado, Tatis, and Soto finished third, fourth, and fifth, respectively, in NL MVP voting. The Padres now employ three of the top five in NL MVP votes from 2020.
Last season, Soto and Tatis finished second and third in NL MVP voting.
In 2021, these three combined for 99 home runs with a combined .937 OPS.
It’s not very often three players of this caliber are in the same lineup. When Tatis returns from his rehab stint, they finally will be. Expectations are sky-high in San Diego now. And they should be. It’s time to dream big dreams with these three in San Diego for at least three postseason runs.