I’m not sure how this is still the case, but Manny Machado might be one of the most underrated players in all of Major League Baseball.
The Padres knew as much when they locked up the former Baltimore Orioles standout with a 10-year, $300 million deal two years ago. After a somewhat mediocre inaugural campaign, Machado cranked it up a notch during the 2020 season, putting up elite numbers once more.
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In 60 games, Machado smacked 16 home runs and a dozen doubles to go along with an impressive .304/.370/.580 slash line. His .950 OPS marked the best single-season performance of his still-young career. At just 28, the San Diego third baseman has plenty of years ahead of him – during which he’ll keep working toward that ultimate goal: Cooperstown.
Looking at his career to this point, Baseball Reference has quite the list of comparable players. Said list includes Ron Santo, Adrian Beltre, Cal Ripken Jr. and Scott Rolen – all of whom are either already enshrined in the Hall of Fame or could be someday.
Of course, that list also features guys like David Wright and Eric Chavez, a pair of former stars who saw their careers fade for various reasons. But given the supporting cast surrounding Machado (something he rarely had as a member of the Orioles) and the long-term project ability of the Padres, I feel really good about Machado’s future.
Padres have a potential all-time great in Manny Machado
Already a four-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glover and one-time Platinum Glove winner, the slugger’s skillset stretches far beyond his impact at the dish. Machado is perennially one of the best defensive third basemen in the game and his durability could be a major boost to his Cooperstown odds.
Machado already has five 30-homer seasons to his credit – and would’ve had a sixth if not for the pandemic-shortened nature of the 2020 season. If you’re looking at JAWS leaders at third base, he ranks 34th all-time, which is saying a lot given his age. He’s neck-and-neck with his arch nemesis at his position, Nolan Arenado – another likely Hall of Famer.
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All this to say it’s about time people give Machado some respect. He’s more than earned it – and if he keeps it up for years to come, someday we’ll be watching him give a speech on a sunny afternoon on the lawn of the Hall.