In the first year of a ten-year contract, Manny Machado had a down year with the San Diego Padres. Where can he improve in 2020?
After being selected number three overall in the 2010 MLB Draft, Manny Machado spent the first seven years of his professional career with the Baltimore Orioles. Prior to the trade deadline in 2018, he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in what was expected to be the missing piece to their World Series roster. However, that failed to materialize, and in the offseason, he signed a ten-year, $300 million contract with the San Diego Padres.
In his first year, Machado slashed .256/.334/.462 with 32 home runs and 85 RBI in 156 games. It was the lowest RBI total for him since 2015 and the lowest OPS+ since 2017.
Statcast Batting Statistics
Statcast reveals that Machado recorded the lowest barrel percentage (8.0) since the 2015 season and struggled to produce on non-fastballs. On breaking and offspeed pitches, he hit just .211 and .135, respectively. He crushed fastballs to the tune of a .306 average with 23 home runs.
His batting average against fastballs was fairly consistent with 2018 (0.303), but he hit .298 and .264 against breaking and offspeed pitches, respectively.
According to Fangraphs, his batted balls were relatively similar to previous years – 17.1 percent line drives, 41.8 percent groundballs, and 41.1 percent flyballs – but it appears that Machado may have been the victim of bad luck, recording a .274 BABIP.
He logged a 43.7 percent hard-hit contact rate with just 19.0 of balls being soft-contact, and his spray chart deviated very little from his career averages.
Outside of 2018 and 2015 when he stole 14 and 20 bags, respectively, Machado has never been a threat on the basepaths. He swiped just five bases and has generally been a smart baserunner. Recording just four outs on the basepaths, that was well under his career-high of nine set back in 2016 and matched again in 2017.
Machado’s fielding has never been perfect, recording a .960 fielding percentage at third base in 119 games and a .973 fielding percentage in 37 games at shortstop last year. Both numbers were similar to league-average values, but he did commit 14 errors.
At third base, Machado committed five errors via fielding and six via throwing. All three of his errors at shortstop came via throwing.
I think the expectations of playing up to his enormous contract get the better of Machado in 2019, but entering year two, I would expect his regressed numbers to normalize again. Fangraphs had him projected for a .270/.337/.490 line with 33 home runs and 100 RBI. Obviously, that was before the postponement of the season.