One of the most anticipated teams in Major League Baseball’s 30 clubs heading into this season was San Diego. After witnessing their energetic performance in last year’s postseason, fans believed that a revitalized team could end the Los Angeles Dodgers’ dominance of the National League West.토스카지노
The lineup of Juan Soto, Fernando Tatis Jr, Manny Machado, and Xander Bogaerts, which reeked of money, was arguably the best 1-4 batting order in the majors, at least. The prediction that opposing hitters would break out in a cold sweat in the first inning was not exaggerated. All four batters were armed with batting averages in or near the triple digits and the power to hit a home run at any time.
No one doubted that this electrifying lineup would be the key to San Diego’s Western Division dominance, and beyond that, to a World Series title. But as great as the expectations were, the disappointment was equally great. None of the four players have been able to live up to the expectations placed on them, making them one of the biggest disappointments in the league. It’s an embarrassment for the club as well.
Manny Machado, the “captain” and the man who signed an 11-year, $350 million contract extension with San Diego before the season, has been a disappointment after a slow start at the plate. Through 109 games through Aug. 20, he’s batting .248 with 23 home runs, 72 RBIs and an OPS of .770. Machado’s OPS is just 12% above league average. Every metric except home runs is down significantly from last year.
The good times ended in April for All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who signed an 11-year, $280 million deal before the season. In 119 games, he’s batting .265 with 13 homers, 42 RBIs, and an OPS+ of 105. That’s only 5% better than the league average OPS. Tatis Jr, who has been a huge disappointment to fans due to his PED use, also has an OPS+ of 118. While his defense is above expectations, his offense is clearly underwhelming.
Kim Ha-seong has been one of the best performers in both the offense and defense this season ⓒYonhap/AP
Tatis Jr. is struggling with the worst offensive performance of his career, despite his good defense.
The impatient local media also exploded. The San Diego Union-Tribune, the largest media outlet in the region, took a swipe at the misfiring “trio” on Sept. 19: “San Diego has been one of the most disappointing teams in the league this season. Unlike the New York Mets, they decided to hold onto their superstars before the trade deadline to keep their hopes alive for the second half, but even after the deadline, they have less than a .500 winning percentage and it’s not happening.
“Each of the Padres’ biggest stars has failed to live up to expectations,” he continued, pointing to the performances of Machado, Bogaerts and Tatis Jr. “Bogaerts is on pace for his worst offensive production since 2017, while Tatis Jr. is coming off the worst offensive season of his career after returning from a drug suspension,” the San Diego Union-Tribune noted. It’s not just the mound that’s struggling, it’s also the key hitters, which has skewed the overall picture for San Diego.
The San Diego Union-Tribune singled out Juan Soto as the team’s best hitter. In 125 games this season, Soto is batting .261 with a .404 on-base percentage, 24 home runs, 75 RBIs, and an OPS of .895. That’s about 49% higher than the league average OPS. However, the San Diego Union-Tribune writes, “He’s the best player in the group, but he’s not in the MVP conversation for the second straight year. That’s disappointing, considering the huge group of prospects San Diego sent to Washington in exchange for half of his two seasons (remaining until free agency).
Instead, the San Diego Union-Tribune only looked favorably on Ha-Sung Kim, 28. Kim has emerged as the team’s leadoff man this year, hitting .278 with 16 home runs, 45 RBIs, 27 doubles, and an OPS+ of 125 in 120 games. The San Diego Union-Tribune compared him to superstars who aren’t performing as well as they should, noting that “behind Soto, San Diego’s second-best hitter is the unexpected Kim Ha-Sung.
Kim’s salary is much lower than theirs, averaging around $7 million per year. This price/performance ratio makes Kim’s value shine even brighter this year. He’s the best second base defender in the league, and he can hold his own at shortstop or third base. He’s also first on the team in stolen bases. He plays hard and is relentless in his pursuit of the ball. It’s hard not to like Kim Ha-seong.
Machado (left) and Bogaerts are having seasons that don’t meet the team’s expectations this year.
Kim (right) and Soto are battling for San Diego’s best player this season.
Kim Ha-seong is the favorite to win the San Diego Padres MVP this year. As analyzed by the San Diego Union-Tribune, Soto is the best hitter. He leads the team in both OPS and wRC+. According to FanGraphs, Soto’s offensive contribution this year is 28.2. That’s higher than the team’s second-best player, Ha-Sung Kim (19.7).
However, Soto hasn’t been as good on defense this year. And Kim is a center fielder (second baseman and shortstop) with a higher defense weighting than Soto. Because of this, Kim’s Wins Above Replacement (WAR) per FanGraphs is higher than Soto’s (4.3) and Tatis’ (3.8). There’s still plenty of season left to go, so these rankings could change, but at the very least, the gap to Machado (2.8) and Bogart (2.8) is large and unlikely to be overtaken.
Machado and Tatis Jr. are already over $300 million in total value, and Bogaerts is close behind. Soto, who is eligible for free agency after the 2024 season, is worth at least $400 million. That’s the same Soto who just rejected a 13-year, $425 million contract offered by Washington. He is rumored to be demanding more than $500 million (67.15 billion won).
The fact that Kim is worth more this year than Soto is also good for his contract, as he’ll be eligible for free agency after the 2024 season. That’s not to say that Kim will get as much money as Soto, but it’s a good argument for Kim’s side of the bargain if the two players enter extension talks with San Diego.