Manny Machado is playing like an MVP -- specifically, the only MVP in Padres history.
Manny Machado is playing like an MVP.
Specifically, he's playing like the only MVP in Padres history.
His batting average is Tony Gwynn-esque, and he's also leading the National League in wins above replacement, on-base percentage and hits.
He's a clubhouse leader, the kind of teammate who isn't afraid to hold his colleagues accountable.
He plays hurt. He plays hard. He does the little things.
He's silk at the hot corner, graceful and smooth. And the Padres are hanging close in the National League West, nipping at the Dodgers' heels.
Machado is a centerpiece of the Padres' championship hopes and the team's best all-around third baseman since Ken Caminiti.
Watching Machado play at such a high level draws your mind back to Ken -- two complete players capable of carrying a ballclub on their shoulders.
Their styles are different. Machado is a better athlete and a more fluid, effortless player. With Ken, things looked hard. He hurt, and you hurt from watching him. And he was liable to do things you didn't expect were humanly possible, especially on defense. Ken wasn't necessarily fast, but his first steps and instinctive movements were pure and cat-quick, and his arm was a cannon.
Where Ken had his motorcycles and cars, Manny is all about his chess.
Machado, with his performance this season, has entered rarefied air for Padres players. Ken remains the only player in team history to win a league MVP award, taking the honor unanimously for his 40-home run, 130-RBI season in 1996 when he helped San Diego reach the playoffs for the first time in 12 years.
That MVP season laid the groundwork for 1998, when the Padres clinched a pennant and a new downtown ballpark was approved.
Ken's four seasons in San Diego went by in a blink, and yet, they were and are so special. In the coming seasons, Machado will probably eclipse Ken as the best third baseman in team history. But not yet. He has to earn some hardware first. Like an MVP award. Or a ring.