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Manny Machado to Padres - Fantasy Impact

After months of waiting, one big fish has landed in an unexpected place. Infielder Manny Machado inked a ten-year, $300 million deal with the San Diego Padres, the largest deal ever given in free agency. Machado had experience in the NL West in his 66 games with the Dodgers last season (posting an .825 OPS), but now is slated to play at least five seasons for the youthful Friars. Machado may have only had a .182/.208/.182 slash line in last year's World Series loss against the Red Sox, but will instantly be a high-impact player in San Diego

In a lot of ways, 2018 was Machado's best offensive season, posting a sparkling .297/.367/.538 slash line while matching a career-best with 37 home runs and topping 100 RBI for the first time (107). He had double-digit steals for the second time in his career (stealing 14-of-16 bases) and had career bests in each of his slash line categories. While it is easy to say that Machado showed up in a walk season, remember that he now has four straight 30-home run seasons and has averaged 72 extra-base hits per season since 2015.

A move to San Diego may not be as nice as cozy hitter's parks in Baltimore and Los Angeles, but can Machado still be a top-20 player in San Diego?

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How Much Will The Move To San Diego Affect Machado?

Machado's first half with the Orioles in 2018 was the best offensive output that he had provided in his career, posting a .315/.387/.575 slash line and hitting 24 home runs in 96 games. He walked 45 times, struck out 51 and even added in eight stolen bases in nine attempts. He was on his way to being a top-10, or even top-five, player last season and a trade to the Dodgers only strengthened his profile.

His play dipped a bit when he moved out west although a .273/.338/.487 slash line was still good.  Most notably, he walked 25 times and struck out 53 times in 66 games, not showing the plate discipline that he displayed in Baltimore (to be fair though, his .472 K/BB ratio in LA was still better than his career .442 mark). You could easily say that the pressure of a pennant race (and a life-altering payday) was getting to Machado, but how will the pressure of being the savior of baseball in San Diego affect him then?

Diving into advanced statistics, Machado had career-bests in basically every category in 2018. His exit velocity was at 91.6, his barrel% was at 11.3%, his hard hit ball rate was top-10 in the league at 48.2%, his K% was at a career-low of 14.7%, and his BB% was at a career-best of 9.9%. There was a bit of a dip in Machado's max exit velocity, from 116.3 in 2017 to 114.8 in 2018, but that did not stop Machado from registering 60 barrels last season (good for 6th in baseball) and his 40% GB rate was also below his 41.4% career average.

His swing profile was not great, as his zone contact rate (85.8%) was below his career average (86.7%), but his 2018 performance when he did hit the ball stood out. Other than his struggles in the World Series, there was basically no other way that Machado could have proved his worth more so than his 2018 performance. Furthermore, 2018 marked the fifth time that Machado registered at least 690 plate appearances; while some may say that signing a 26-year-old with that much mileage is a risky proposal, fantasy owners need to love that Machado is a daily lock in their lineup.

When looking at park factors, there are a lot of things to consider. The brilliant Eno Sarris of The Athletic has one way of looking at it (and, honestly, it is now a favorite of mine); HR/High Drive ratio. For those who cannot conceptualize a high drive, it is basically a hard hit ball in the air; HR/HD basically looks at the ratio of how many hard hit balls in the air turn into home runs.

Where did Machado's two 2018 teams rank in HR/HD? That would be first (LA) and second (BAL). With the notion that San Diego is a pitcher's park, now is probably the time that fantasy owners will drop Machado five or more spots on their draft board. However, San Diego was actually above average in HR/HD ratio in last season (1.034 that ranked 13th in baseball) and was actually a better park to hit in than supposed "hitter's parks" like Toronto or Houston (Minute Maid Park was actually a bit below-average according to HR/HD). No one is going to try to fool you that Petco Park is the same caliber of ballpark for Machado as Dodger Stadium or Camden Yards, but it is not outside of the realm of possibility that Machado still approaches 70 extra-base hits in 2019.


Is Machado Still Worth a Second-Round Pick?

There are many ways to answer the question above and there are external reasons as to why Machado may/may not reach value. The key reasons are the revitalization of Eric Hosmer and the development of both Luis Urias and Fernando Tatis Jr. If Hosmer is the player that he was in 2017 (or at least is not basically a replacement value 1B) and Urias/Tatis Jr. make the kind of impact that the Padres' brass think they can, Machado could approach 200 R+RBI. Even without a ton of production from his teammates in San Diego, though, remember that Machado was raking in Baltimore before his trade to the Dodgers and the Orioles were among the worst offenses in baseball last season.

A move to the Yankees may have moved Machado to the back end of the first round in deeper leagues, but it is not wise to wait past the middle-to-late second round for Machado with his move to the Padres. Currently coming off of the board as the 14th pick in NFBC drafts, Machado is likely to provide similar, if not better, production than the players that he is sandwiched between (Javier Baez and Jose Altuve). Yes, it is not trendy to pick a Padre in the second round, but these are your father's Padres now! 1984 World Series anyone???

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