Mr. Stats Notes: Manny Machado the key to victory for Padres in 2022

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On Sunday morning, the San Diego Padres play the defending World Series champion Braves in Atlanta. For at least the first half of 2021, the Padres were a much better team than Atlanta and championship caliber.

Padres in 2021
First half 53-40
Second half 26-43

Everything that could go wrong for the Padres, went wrong after the All-Star break.

I remember as a kid, owning a Dodgers record album called, “The Sound of the Dodgers.” Vin Scully, narrating a history of the franchise, said at one point in his distinct sing-song voice, The Dodgers…expected to win in ‘62….lost. (pause) Expected to lose in ‘63…they won.

That’s kind of how I feel about the Padres in ‘22.  Expected to win in ‘21, they lost. Expected to lose in ’22…well, I think they’re going to win. Win big. Maybe win it all.

And why do I feel this way? Two words: Manny Machado.

RELATED: 2022 MLB on Peacock schedule: How to watch, live stream Sunday morning baseball games online

On Fangraphs’ tab to find On-Pace (GP%), we can find Manny Machado’s current season stats prorated for the remaining games in the season if he were to play the same percentage of total Padres games that he has already played this season.

I gasped as I looked Thursday morning at Manny’s pace.

162 games
704 Plate Appearances
233 Hits
35 HR
137 Runs
32 Stolen Bases
.383/.460/.625
WAR:  15.0

I mean, it’s not like the season just started! We’re not 5% or 10% or 15% through the season.  After Wednesday’s game, Machado and the Padres had played 32 games (19.7%) of the season.

Through Wednesday’s games, Machado led the Majors in hits (46), runs (27) and average (.383); 2nd in OBP (.460, just behind Mike Trout’s .462) 2nd in OPS (1.085, just behind Trout’s 1.188)  and 2nd in SLG (.625, trailing Trout’s .726).

And his value is so much more than that, if you can believe it. There isn’t a team that shifts more than San Diego, and Machado is asked to do a lot defensively. And while Machado’s best days defensively were probably between 2014-2016, he’s still one of the best at the hot corner.

How good? This year, Manny has 3 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved). That’s topped by only two 3B (Ke’Bryan Hayes and the incomparable Nolan Arenado). Since the start of 2019, only two 3B (Arenado and Matt Chapman) have more Defensive Runs Saved than Manny.

And offensively, Machado is doing it without much protection in the lineup. San Diego manager Bob Melvin started the year trying Luke Voit and then Jurickson Profar in the cleanup spot after Machado.  More recently, he’s turned to Eric Hosmer. None of them have hit in the No. 4 spot in the order (well, until I began writing this column:   On Tuesday and Wednesday, Hosmer had five hits and a homer in the cleanup spot.  Even with Hosmer’s recent contributions, San Diego No. 4 batters have combined to bat an MLB-worst .153).

Padres cleanup hitters (No. 4 in lineup) in first 30 games of the season

.119 (13-109 AB)
.193 OBP
.228 SLG
1 HR

A few weeks ago, I told Padres President of Baseball Operations and general manager A.J. Preller that I thought his signing of Machado — In February of 2019 for a then-historic amount: $300 million over 10 years — would go down as the greatest free-agent signing ever. I didn’t say it to flatter. I said it because I believe it.

This is the fourth year of the deal—and the guy does exactly what he was signed to do. More.

Manny Machado:

Baltimore:       860 games       .487 SLG, .822 OPS, OPS+121

San Diego:      400 games       .503 SLG, .857 OPS, OPS+133

L.A.                   66 games       .487 SLG, .825 OPS, OPS+122

Bob Melvin explains his durability this way: “You look at him from afar, is it lackadaisical? No.  It’s just a very easy style of play. There’s not a lot of tension in his game, he works really hard and he shows up to play every day.”

You know who else showed up to play every day? Another infielder who played shortstop and then third base for the Baltimore Orioles — a guy named Cal Ripken, Jr.

You know what? Machado turns 30 years old in a few weeks (July 6). If you look at what Cal did in his 20s, you will see similar — eerily similar — numbers to what Machado has done.

Now, remember, Machado turns 30 on July 6 (it’s a scheduled day-off for the Padres, so hoo-ray for Manny and for stats geeks like me trying to figure this stuff out). He has about 50 games left to catch Cal in some of these categories, and has passed him in others already.

Cal Ripken, Jr. By 30th Birthday Manny Machado
1,437 Games Played 1,327
6,207 Plate Appearances 5,768
5,503 At-Bats 5,215
1,519 Hits 1,471
220 HR 258
811 RBI 773
.276/.348/.458 Slash Line .282/.341/.491
806 OPS .832

Cal of course won two MVP awards.

But Cal Ripken Jr. had only one other top-5 MVP finish in his Hall of Fame career (he finished 3rd in 1989).

Manny Machado already has as many top-5 MVP finishes than Ripken did in his entire career.  Manny finished 4th in 2015 (at the age of 22). He finished 5th in 2016 (at the age of 23). He finished 3rd in 2020 (at the age of 28). And if he doesn’t win in 2022, he almost certainly will finish with another top-5 MVP season.

Machado is doing it quietly now, in San Diego. This week, on a Sunday morning. He’s worth watching. He’s worth paying attention to. And when this Padres team gets Fernando Tatis, Jr. back in the lineup, look out!  Hosmer is having a career year; the other under-performing position players will rise; and the team needs to pitch well, of course.  But the key to the Padres wears #13.

RELATED: Rivas’ key hit vs hometown Padres lifts Cubs to 7-5 win

Padres at Braves in the spring of ‘73

The Sunday Lead-Off game is in Atlanta this week, and that gave me a reason to call my old friend Kevin Barnes for a chat.

Kevin Barnes is part of the fabric of Atlanta televised sports, working official stats or calling in voicers for radio stations for years and years. He drew a paycheck from the Braves for decades, serving in a variety of roles.

Kevin was a batboy for the Braves in 1973, the year the Braves had a trio of hitters that hit 40 or more home runs (Hank Aaron, Davey Johnson, and Darrell Evans). That was also the year Aaron chased Babe Ruth’s career home run record and was vilified by much of the nation for it.

Barnes was in the clubhouse each day — dressed in the clubhouse — and befriended most of the team.  “I grew up in Fort Lee, New Jersey; and my dad worked for Coca-Cola and was transferred to Atlanta in August of 1972, right after I graduated high school. Enrolling at Georgia State, I made a cold-call to the Braves, wanting to become their batboy. The switchboard operator put me in touch with the new Clubhouse Manager, and I got the job.”

I asked Barnes about what he remembers about his first game, and he remembers…well, everything.  “April 6, 1973, the Braves opened against the Houston Astros.  The first person to greet and welcome me was their centerfielder, Dusty Baker. We’re still friends after all these years. Hank Aaron was a class guy all the way — all the way.”

When I asked about any other memories that stand out from that 1973 season, Barnes was ready.  “I loved Phil Niekro. He was one of my all-time favorite guys. He taught me the correct way to throw the knuckleball—the way he threw it, with fingertips. Anyway, during that ’73 season, there was a Padres/Braves weekend series. I took the weekend off, because a friend from New Jersey was coming down to stay with me. On Sunday, I’m playing stickball with my friend, listening to the game. And wouldn’t you know it, Phil Niekro threw a no-hitter.  I never thought I would see one, and I gave up the opportunity to be working — on the field — for Niekro’s!”

I looked it up. On Sunday, August 5, 1973, before a crowd of 8,748 at Atlanta Stadium (Barnes correctly remembered that the stadium wasn’t called Fulton-County Stadium until a few years later) Phil Niekro threw a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres, who had rookie Dave Winfield pinch-hit in one of the first games Winfield ever appeared in the majors.

Luckily, Barnes would see other no-hitters later in his career. Maybe another Braves pitcher — Kyle Wright — will throw one against the Padres on a Sunday nearly a half-century after Niekro threw his?

How to watch Padres vs Braves on Peacock

Ronald Acuna Jr. and the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves host Manny Machado and the San Diego Padres from Truist Park on MLB Sunday Leadoff live this Sunday, May 15 at 11:30 a.m. ET on Peacock. MLB Sunday Leadoff begins on Peacock at 11 a.m. ET. This spring and summer, Peacock is live-streaming an NBC Sports-produced baseball game for 18 consecutive weeks.

Click here to sign up for Peacock and watch MLB games on Sunday morning

Mr. Stats’ Notes: Playoff picture starts to take focus

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This is the time of year that baseball turns from a marathon to a sprint. The Toronto Blue Jays are steps ahead of other teams for a spot in the postseason. Toronto finished one game out of the playoffs a year ago. Will this year be different?

On Sunday, in a game streamed on Peacock beginning at 12 pm eastern, the Blue Jays will play the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In 2021, the Jays finished one game behind the Yankees for the Wild Card; and 39 games better than the division rival Orioles. Can Baltimore pass Toronto in the final weeks to nab the third and final Wild Card?

It’s time to sharpen up the predictions to pick out some potential October matchups and storylines.

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Wouldn’t it be something if…the Pittsburgh Pirates win the World Series?

Well, not the 2022 Pirates.  But several former Pirates.

The 2017 Pirates team had Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon in their starting rotation. By 2018, Cole was gone but Clay Holmes was in the Bucs pen.  If the New York Yankees win the 2022 World Series, it will almost certainly be with heavy lifting being done by Cole, Taillon, and Holmes. Jameson (12-4, 3.97) leads the Yankees in wins. Cole is their ace. Holmes should be the closer.

And if the New York Mets win the World Series this year, they will lean heavily on two other Pirates from those Clint Hurdle-managed teams. The Mets don’t hurdle through the National League without Starling Marte and, to a lesser degree, Trevor Williams.  Marte is slashing .309/.359/.511 with 41 extra-base hits in 93 games since May 1, and for the season his bWAR is 3.7. Williams, meanwhile, has not allowed a run in a career-high 24.0 straight innings. Trevor has a 0.88 WHIP, a .190 opponent’s average and a .483 opponent’s OPS during that span.

Pittsburgh fans can find someone to root for even if the San Diego Padres win the World Series (Joe Musgrove), or the Atlanta Braves (Charlie Morton) repeat.

2022 MLB on Peacock schedule: How to watch, live stream Sunday morning baseball games online

Wouldn’t it be something if…the Cardinals beat the Mets in the postseason (with Adam Wainwright getting the final outs)?

In 2006, the Mets won 97 games. The Cardinals won 83 games. But the two teams met in the NLCS, and in Game 7, the Cards had a 3-1 lead entering the bottom of the ninth. Rookie Adam Wainwright closed it out, slamming the door and eliminating the Mets by striking out Carlos Beltran with the bases loaded to end the game.

Wouldn’t it be something if all these years later, the Cardinals once again eliminated the heavily-favored Mets in the deciding game with Wainwright (9-9, 3.09) on the mound!

And if that happened…

Wouldn’t it be something if…the Cardinals beat the Yankees in the World Series (with Jordan Montgomery eliminating his former team)?

Jordan Montgomery was traded from the Yankees to the Cardinals in exchange for Harrison Bader. Montgomery, in his first five starts for St. Louis, is 4-0, with 1.76 ERA and a WHIP of 0.815. How great would it be for Monty, who started the season as the Yankees’ No. 3 starter, eliminates New York.

Of course, October is a long way away. Perhaps Harrison Bader will run down a long blast by Nolan Arenado or Paul Goldschmidt to save a game for the Yankees.

I know what you’re thinking. Even if the Cardinals make the World Series, the Yankees may fall in the ALCS to the Astros. And if that were the case…

RELATED: Does Pujols deserve more respect?

Wouldn’t it be something if…the Cardinals and Astros meet in the World Series, a rematch of the 2004 NLCS (when St. Louis won) and the 2005 NLCS (when Houston won)?

Albert Pujols was the MVP of the 2004 NLCS versus the Houston Astros. Albert batted .500 (14-28 AB) with 1.000 SLG, 1.563 OPS, and 4 HR in the series! Imagine if he has a surge in the very late stages of his career. In the 2005 series, he hit a ninth-inning blast off Brad Lidge that’s a signature highlight in a career full of them.

I know, the Cardinals are a long shot. The Mets have a much better chance of reaching the World Series. So:

Wouldn’t it be something if…Buck Showalter finally makes the World Series in his 21st year as a Major League manager…and loses the Series when the Yankees bring in a reliever named (check notes…) Zack Britton to slam the door on Buck’s Mets?

Well before Timmy Trumpet, Showalter once had an elite reliever in his stint with the Orioles, Zack Britton. In 2016, Britton saved 47 games in 47 save opportunities. The Orioles won 89 games in 2016, and played in the one-game Wild Card in Toronto. The elimination game was tied 2-2 after five innings. And six innings. And seven innings. And eight innings. And nine innings. And ten innings. Buck kept waiting for his Birds to score a run, to bring in the great Britton to close out the Jays. Trouble is, he never did get Zack into the game, and eventually Ubaldo Jimenez lost the game for Buck in the 11th.

Just a thought. If there’s an opportunity to get Edwin Diaz late in a tie game on the road, do it. If you go down, go down with your best.

RELATED: Rogers: Mets are ‘built for postseason’

Wouldn’t it be something if Buck Showalter finally makes it to the World Series against the Astros and Dusty Baker? One of them has to win, right? Please tell me someone has to win.

Is it even remotely possible that Dusty’s team blows another series lead? Baker shouldn’t have lost the 2002 World Series to the Angels, or the 2021 World Series to the Braves. He shouldn’t have blown a 2-0 series lead to the Giants in a 2012 best-of-five series. He shouldn’t have blown a three-run lead with five outs to go in Game 7 of a 2003 series to the Marlins. And only Dusty — poor Dusty — can have a lead after four innings of a winner-take-all game, bring in Max Scherzer — and still lose the game and series, as Dusty’s Nats did against the Cubs in 2017.

Wouldn’t it be something if the 2022 World Series were a rematch of the 2017 World Series? Only this time, Clayton Kershaw pitches on a level playing field, if you know what I mean. Man, it would be great to see Clayton start a game in Houston.

Remember what happened when Kershaw started Game 5 of the ’17 series in Houston? Clayton was unhittable in Game 1 of that series at Dodger Stadium; but in Game 5, Kershaw blew a 4-0 lead in the fourth inning, and a 7-4 lead in the bottom of the fifth.

I know Kershaw found redemption in the 2020 World Series in Arlington, Texas against Tampa Bay. But I want more. I want Clayton to shut down Altuve, Bregman, and Gurriel in Houston. In a World Series. Wouldn’t that be something?

And if the Astros defeated the Dodgers, I would feel so glad for Dusty Baker, who would have a World Series championship as a player for the Dodgers (in 1981) and as a manager against the Dodgers (41 years later, in 2022).

RELATED: Astros ace Justin Verlander placed on IL with calf injury

Wouldn’t it be something if someone other than the Astros or Yankees made the World Series?  Wouldn’t it be something if the Mariners defeated the Yankees?

Time for a little history lesson. In 2001, the Mariners had a historic regular season, winning 116 games. But they lost the ALCS to the Yankees in five games. In Game 5 at Yankee Stadium, with the Yankees blowing out Seattle 9-0 and eventually eliminating them 12-3, the Bronx crowd chanted “Over-rated” at the Mariners.

Classy, I know. But wouldn’t it be something if the tides were reversed a generation later, and the heavily-favored Yankees fell in Seattle, with the Pacific Northwest crowd serenading the Yankees with the “over-rated” chant?

Wouldn’t it be something if…Rays manager Kevin Cash refuses to take out a starting pitcher that is on his game?

Wouldn’t it be something if…Bryce Harper finally was part of a winning playoff series? Harper appeared been in four Division Series as a member of the Nationals, and lost all four. 

Wouldn’t it be something if…Francisco Lindor makes the World Series against his former Cleveland team and manager Terry Francona?

As the rock group Green Day sang, “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”

MLB schedule 2022: Every Sunday morning baseball game on Peacock, matchups, what to know

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Sunday baseball is officially coming to Peacock this May! 18 MLB games will be featured on the streaming service starting with the Chicago White Sox vs. Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park on Sunday, May 8 at 11:30 p.m. ET. See below for the full Sunday baseball on Peacock schedule.

Sunday Baseball on Peacock schedule

Date Time Matchup
May 8 11:30 a.m. ET Chicago White Sox at Boston Red Sox
May 15 11:30 a.m. ET San Diego Padres at Atlanta Braves
May 22 11:30 a.m. ET St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates
May 29 11:30 a.m. ET San Francisco Giants at Cincinnati Reds
June 5 11:30 a.m. ET Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees
June 12 11:30 a.m. ET Oakland Athletics at Cleveland Guardians
June 19 Noon ET Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals
June 26 Noon ET New York Mets at Miami Marlins
July 3 Noon ET Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers
July 10 Noon ET Los Angeles Angels at Baltimore Orioles
July 17 Noon ET Kansas City Royals at Toronto Blue Jays
July 24 Noon ET Chicago Cubs at Philadelphia Phillies
July 31 Noon ET Detroit Tigers at Toronto Blue Jays
August 7 Noon ET Houston Astros at Cleveland Guardians
August 14 Noon ET San Diego Padres at Washington Nationals
August 21 Noon ET Chicago White Sox at Cleveland Guardians
August 28 Noon ET Los Angeles Dodgers at Miami Marlins
September 4 Noon ET Toronto Blue Jays at Pittsburgh Pirates

How to watch the MLB on Peacock                              

Baseball is back and for the first time ever MLB games are coming to Peacock this May, featuring a total of 18 Sunday match ups. Click here to sign up for Peacock and watch MLB games live on Sunday mornings!

The first MLB game on Peacock will take place on Sunday, May 8 at 11:30 a.m. ET as the Chicago White Sox battle it out with the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. The game will also be available on the NBC broadcast network.

In addition to MLB games, Peacock will also feature a new MLB hub which will include access to highlight packages and award-winning documentaries from the MLB Film & Video Archive.

Opening Day for the 2022 MLB season takes place on Thursday, April 7 and the league will stick to its original slate of 162 games despite a 99-day-lockout. For more on the 2022 MLB season click here.

See below for additional information on how to watch MLB on Peacock.

How can I watch baseball on Peacock and what devices are compatible?

Peacock is currently available on the Roku platform; Amazon FireTV and Fire tablets; Apple devices including iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD; Google platforms and devices including Android™, Android TV™ devices, Chromecast and Chromecast built-in devices;  Microsoft’s Xbox One family of devices, including Xbox One S and Xbox One X; Sony PlayStation4 and PlayStation 4 Pro; Samsung Smart TVs; VIZIO SmartCast™ TVs; LG Smart TVs; Comcast’s entertainment platforms including Xfinity X1, Xfinity Flex, and XClass TV; and Cox’s Contour and Contour Stream Player devices. To learn more about Peacock and how to sign up, visit PeacockTV.com.