After being selected to two straight MLB All-Star Games in 2021 and 2022, Manny Machado has figuratively fallen off of a cliff. His production has drastically dropped, and he’s mired in one of the toughest stretches of his career to date.
Before exiting a May 15 game after taking a Mitch Keller pitch to the hand, Machado was posting some of the worst stats of his career. Why did it happen, and can he turn it around when he returns?
This video on Twitter showcases Machado’s Baseball Savant stats—blue being bad, red being good in terms of league percentiles:
OPS+, a metric that adjusts OPS to league averages and park factors, is a moving scale where 100 is league average. In his 12 years in the majors, Machado only had an OPS+ below league average in his 51 games as a rookie. Right now, his OPS+ sits even lower than that, at 84.
So what has caused this drop off? Well, it seems as if Machado has simply stopped making hard contact. His average exit velocity has dropped to a career low, down to 89.1 compared to a 91.3 career average. The 30-year-old third baseman has hit ground balls at a higher than normal rate, and has seen a drop off in line drive rates.
Despite it looking bad for Machado, it could be worse. Although his strikeout levels are above career norms, they’re still below MLB averages. Additionally, his max exit velocity this year is still among the best in the league, indicating he still has the power he’s flashed throughout his career.
Machado’s slump has come at an inopportune time for the Padres, who signed him to an 11-year, $350 million extension this offseason. The turbulent stretch could be an indication of more struggles for a player exiting the prime of his career. However, the signs don’t point to that.
Machado is making steps towards coming back. He played long toss and hit off a tee on Tuesday, according to Kevin Acee of the San Deigo Union-Tribune. Machado looks to get a fresh start when he returns, and get his season—and career—back on track.