The San Diego Padres have a downright filthy infield, and little to no one outside of the San Diego area is bringing that development to light.
From left to right, the Padres infield is Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., Luis Urias, and Eric Hosmer. The Padres inked Machado to a 10-year, $300 million deal in the offseason, Tatis went into 2019 as the organization’s top prospect with Urias close behind, and Hosmer is in the second year of an eight-year, $144 million deal.
All four have their weaknesses, but collectively, they form an elite infield that is still likely to improve in the field and at the plate.
Machado got off to a slow start this season, but he has righted the ship and is performing near his career standards. Hitting .263 with 26 home runs and 70 RBIs, he has been one of the most productive third basemen in Major League Baseball.
He’s also a slick and versatile fielder. There’s not a groundball that Machado can’t make a play on, he gets the ball out of his hands quickly, and he can stop on a dime to make a throw. While he mostly played shortstop in 2018, the 27-year-old has taken the bulk of his reps at third base this season. His ability to play both positions interchangeably is an asset, especially when injuries present themselves.
Hosmer is performing like the player the Padres signed him to be. Hitting .287 with 18 home runs and 81 RBIs, he has been a consistent source of offense. Hosmer is a well-rounded hitter who hits the ball to all fields. He can crush balls down the line and is adept at waiting on outside pitches and driving them down the left field line.
While he’s not held in high esteem defensively, Hosmer makes some crafty plays at first base. He has an exceptional arm and extremely good range, which makes their infield better.
Pete Alonso has captivated the sport with his power, but Tatis has an extremely compelling case for the National League Rookie of the Year Award too. Even with an early season hamstring injury, Tatis has been one of the most fascinating developments in the sport.
Hitting .317, sporting a .969 OPS, and totaling 22 home runs and 53 RBIs, he has been lethal at the top of manager Andy Green‘s lineup. Tatis is also an exceptional fielder. He fields groundballs in the hole with ease, has a cannon for an arm, and is quick. Although there have been some mental mishaps on the basepaths, the shortstop has stolen 16 bags and legged out six triples.
Like Tatis, Urias has been one of the Padres top prospects for multiple years and is now playing at the major-league level. While he has struggled to get on base and get in a rhythm at the plate, he has made some encouraging plays in the field. Plus, he has only appeared in 32 games. As he gets more reps, Urias will improve and become more accustomed to major-league pitching.
Besides, Urias tore the cover off the ball in Triple-A before getting the call up to the show. Hitting .315, sporting a .998 OPS, and totaling 19 home runs and 50 RBIs in 73 games this season, he essentially did what Tatis is doing in the majors. The talent is there with Urias, just give it some time.
So, why has the Padres infield not been overwhelmingly praised? Well, you could argue that the Padres being 56-64 and in fourth place in the NL West has something to do with it. At the same time, they’ve invested $444 million in Machado and Hosmer over the last two seasons, and they were arguably the top position players on the open market when the Padres signed them.
Stout right-hander Chris Paddack looks like an ace, and the Padres have some reliable backend relievers such as Kirby Yates and Craig Stammen, who attracted some attention at the MLB trade deadline. Even after sending Franmil Reyes to the Cincinnati Reds in a three-team trade that, most notably, sent Trevor Bauer to the Cincinnati Reds, the Padres still have Hunter Renfroe, who has blasted 31 home runs this season, Manuel Margot, and Taylor Trammell — who they acquired in the Reyes/Bauer trade — as their potential outfield of the future.
There are eyeballs on the Padres, but the attention has been on individuals, as well as the trade they executed before the trade deadline, rather than a group of players. It’s not to say that those aspects of their roster aren’t worth discussing, but the Padres have an infield with the potential to be the best unit in baseball; that should be the story.
Machado and Tatis are already as good as any left side of the infield in baseball. Oh, and Tatis is only 20. Urias has an enormous amount of room for growth and will improve with more reps. Hosmer is a proven commodity.
Two perennial All-Stars, one of the best young players in the sport, and a top prospect is the team’s future. Machado and Hosmer are one of the best corner infield duos in baseball, and Tatis and Urias are a blossoming middle infield duo. Try to find an infield quartet that offers more promise than that; you won’t.
This is a unit worth boasting over.