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3 bold predictions for Manny Machado in 2019 with the Padres

Manny Machado, Padres

The San Diego Padres shocked the baseball world when they agreed in principle to a record 10-year, $300 million contract with superstar infielder Manny Machado.

The 26-year-old also received an eight-year, $250 million offer from the Chicago White Sox, but instead went for the additional two years with guaranteed money.

Machado has hit at least 30 home runs in each of his past four seasons, and is ninth in fWAR from 2015-18.

The Padres won just 66 games last season, averaging just 3.8 runs per game. But with Machado now on board and an insanely deep prospect pool–including Fernando Tatis Jr., Luis Urias and Mackenzie Gore–the future looks bright in San Diego.

Here are three bold predictions for Machado’s first season with the Padres.

Manny Machado, Padres

3. A 40-homer season

Not bold enough? Well, Machado has yet to hit 40 home runs in a single season, and now he will play his home games in Petco Park, a traditional haven for pitchers.

That said, San Diego is far more favorable for right-handed hitters and Machado is coming off the best offensive season of his career, posting a career-high in average (.297), slugging percentage (.538), and isolated power (.241).

He may not have a ton of protection in the Padres lineup, but he didn’t have much in Baltimore either.

And you may not have noticed, but Machado has a knack for being one of the most clutch hitters in the game.

Machado hit .298 with two outs and runners in scoring position, while also posting a .309 average with three homers in situations deemed “Late & Close,” according to Baseball-Reference.

He is one of the game’s most-feared hitters in the big moments, and opposing pitchers tend to make mistakes under this kind of pressure.

Expect Machado to punish a bunch of mistake pitches this year on his way to 40 homers.

Manny Machado, Padres

2. He becomes a plus-plus shortstop

Machado has always been one of the most talented two-way players of this generation, but in his first season at shortstop, he flopped miserably.

In fact, Machado was the third-worst defensive shortstop in baseball in terms of Defensive Runs Saved, and his -6.5 Ultimate Zone Rating was the worst at the position.

Many question whether Machado can become an elite defender again as the captain of the infield, especially with Tatis Jr.’s primary position also being at short.

However, playing short was likely an assumed contingency in Machado’s deal, and both players are historically better at third base anyway, so Tatis is more likely to man the hot corner when he arrives in the big leagues.

Yet for all of those metrics, it is impossible to imagine that Machado will not improve defensively in his second full season at short. His range and arm strength almost demand improvement.

The prediction here is that not only does he improve, but he will be an above-average to elite defender this season.

Manny Machado, Padres

1. National League MVP

First two weren’t bold enough for you?

Well how about this: Manny Machado will win the National League MVP Award in 2019.

For starters, he no longer has to compete with the likes of Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, or Jose Altuve, who are all in the American League.

There is still stiff competition in the NL, to be sure. Reigning MVP Christian Yelich will be poised to repeat, and Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Bryce Harper, and Kris Bryant will all likely be right on his heels.

But if the first two predictions suggested for Machado come to fruition, and the Padres win closer to 85 games this season, there is no reason he cannot win the award.

Granted, his chances may end up depending completely on the team success, but the Padres could be a surprise team in a National League West division that will not be as strong as it was a year ago.

A record-breaking contract, and an MVP award to boot… how would you like that, San Diego?