Machado edges Arenado for All-Star start

July 9th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- Padres third baseman Manny Machado overcame an untimely injury and the incumbency of Nolan Arenado to earn his first All-Star start as a National Leaguer for the 92nd Midsummer Classic at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on July 19.

Phase 2 voting results were released Friday, and Machado edged Arenado 51% to 49% to get the starting nod. Arenado was the NL starter at third base in the past four All-Star Games. (There was no game during the abbreviated 2020 season.)

“It’s always a great honor to be selected to the All-Star Game,” Machado said. “This one is my first as a starter with the San Diego Padres. On top of that, it was voted by the fans. It shows you how much San Diego has been enjoying us on the field and supporting us through this whole year. It’s fun.”

Machado, who turned 30 on Wednesday, entered Friday among the NL leaders in batting average (.315, third), on-base percentage (.387, fifth), slugging (.533, ninth) and OPS (.920, third). Arenado had a slash line of .292/.357/.529 for an OPS of .886. Arenado led in bWAR, 4.3 to 3.9, but Machado had the edge in fWAR, 4.4 to 4.2.

While Machado has carried the Padres’ offense as fellow superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. awaits his 2022 debut following a broken left wrist, Arenado is securely nestled in a powerhouse Cardinals lineup that includes WAR standouts Paul Goldschmidt and Tommy Edman, plus impact rookies Juan Yepez, Brendan Donovan and Nolan Gorman.

“I’m a little biased,” Padres manager Bob Melvin said, “but what he’s done for this team this year, it’s not just All-Star stuff, it’s MVP stuff.”

Machado cruised to victory in Phase 1 of the Chevrolet All-Star Ballot, which ended June 30. In a pool of all NL regular third basemen, Machado collected nearly 2.4 million votes to Arenado’s 1.6 million. Phase 2 was a head-to-head vote for the two finalists at each position, however, and the balloting this week coincided with a drop-off in Machado’s production after a left ankle sprain.

Machado was injured June 19, when he hit the first-base bag awkwardly in Colorado. He missed nine games. Upon his return June 30, he went 3-for-19 with no home runs and 10 strikeouts in his first six games. Machado may have turned the corner Thursday night against the Giants, however. He hit his first homer since his return -- 108 mph exit velocity and 421 feet projected distance, per Statcast -- and had a 107.1 mph lineout.

Machado and Arenado take their measure against each other, to a degree. They broke into the Majors a year apart and have been All-Star opponents and teammates in various years since. When Machado signed with the Padres in 2019, they began competing directly for All-Star honors and postseason awards. Machado has yet to end Arenado’s NL Gold Glove stranglehold, but he took the Silver Slugger Award in '20.

“He likes to go out and compete every single day, and I’m the same way,” Machado said. “At the end of the day, we’re all professionals. He brings it every single day, and so do I. We love that. … We bring that out in each other. I love watching him play, the way he goes about his business, how he tries to get better every single year. And so do I. It’s always fun to share a field with him.”

Machado had two previous All-Star starts as an American League player with the Orioles, as a third baseman in 2016 and as a shortstop in ’18. Machado was an NL reserve last year -- his first All-Star season with the Padres -- and now has been an All-Star pick six times in 11 big league seasons.