Petco Park shouldn't crush Manny Machado's fantasy value

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With Manny Machado reportedly signing with the Padres on Tuesday for a historic $300 million over 10 years (with an opt-out clause at the midpoint), it’s time to get back to fantasy fundamentals.

Let’s clarify some misunderstandings about Park Factors.

The Machado news generally sprung two major reactions from the fantasy crowd — relief that the market signed anyone (especially a key player), and concern over how much Machado’s value could potentially sink now that he’s in Petco Park after so many years in Camden Yards (and a brief respite in Dodger Stadium).

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Machado certainly enjoyed Baltimore’s home cooking, no doubt on that. His career slash at Camden is a snappy .296/.352/.536, with 99 homers in 427 games. Contrast this to his road scan, which shows .271/.319/.442, with 69 homers in 470 games.

It’s common for most players to perform better at home, no matter the playability of the park. Maybe it’s a nod to home cooking, or being free from the drains of traveling. Perhaps it’s all about familiarity. Put the attribution anywhere you like. This doesn’t mean the dimensions at Camden didn’t help Machado, but let’s take a broader look at how Camden and Petco have played in recent years.

Over the last three seasons, Oriole Park has boosted right-handed power by 15 percent — that’s a needle-mover, obviously. Only four parks have been friendlier for a right-handed slugger. But, counterintuitively, Camden Yards is not a boost to overall offense. It’s been batting-average neutral for three years, and actually a mild tax (one percent) on scoring.

Petco Park was once seen as a death sentence for offense, but the park has played differently in recent years. If you sum up the last three seasons, you’ll note a four-percent tax in right-handed power, a two-percent dip in batting average, and a four-percent drain on overall scoring. The biggest Petco effect comes with left-handed power (19-percent drop), though the tax was only three percent for lefty pop last year.

In short, maybe Baltimore wasn’t as great a fit as we thought. And maybe San Diego isn’t as dire as initially feared.

Manny Machado’s sizable contract demands were finally met Tuesday. (AP)
Manny Machado’s sizable contract demands were finally met Tuesday. (AP)

I have my own reasons for seeing Machado as a mild fade this year. Although the Padres have a loaded farm system and could be a juggernaut in a few years, Machado obviously did not sign with a stacked offensive club. San Diego was 28th in runs last year. And even with Machado entering the prime of his career — set to begin his age-26 season — I sometimes get a little gun shy with player movement or someone fresh off a big contract. That’s not a rule set in stone, it’s just stuff on the checklist to go with several other factors.

It will be interesting to see if Machado still cares about running. Just three years ago, he didn’t have any stolen bases. He’s stolen as many as 20 in a season, and he rebounded to 14-of-16 last year. He’s certainly athletic enough to run, it’s just a matter if it’s worth it to him and the club.

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I currently have Machado slotted No. 23 on my overall board, a borderline late-second or early-third round pick in most leagues. I don’t think that’s likely to get him. He was the 22nd overall pick in last week’s LABR Mixed Draft, while his NFBC ADP is around 15. To be fair, any previous prices for Machado were partially tied to the idea he might sign with a loaded offense — a major contender. That’s not what happened Tuesday.

Machado probably figures to play third for the Padres, but you can still use him at both shortstop and third base in Yahoo Leagues. He’s played essentially a full season in five of the last six years. His average haul over the last four years is plenty useful: .284-94-36-96-11.

Share your Machado expectations in the comments. Let’s keep thawing out this free-agent freeze.

All Park Factor data taken from the 2019 Bill James Handbook 

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