Dynasty BaseballTriple Play

TDG’S Triple Play: San Diego Padres!

The Triple Play is back for a sixth season! This regular feature is broken down by senior writer Phil Barrington and he is joined by a rotating panel of some of the best Dynasty Baseball writers in the business. If you’re new to the Triple Play, this series breaks down an arm, a bat, and a prospect within each organization for your reading pleasure! This week I (@barrington_phil) am joined by Ryan Epperson (@ppenayr) and Drew Klein (@aok_fan), follow us on Twitter and send us any questions, feedback, disagreements, what have yous, in the comments. (At the very end of the post you can see our three topics/movie quotes/song titles).

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Manny Machado, Age: 30, Position: 3B

Analysis by: Ryan Epperson

” We need you. Hell, I need you. I’m a mess without ya. I miss you so damn much. I miss being with you. I miss being near you! I miss your laugh! I miss your scent. I miss your musk. When this all gets sorted out, I think you and me should get an apartment together.”

Apparently, we do zany headlines for these (which I dig) and honestly it took more time to research which movie/artist/poet etc., that I wanted to use for my entry rather than the whole research the actual player thing.

It just felt right to do my part of the Triple Play on Mr. San Diego himself, Manny Machado the man who just inked essentially a five-year extension to his existing contract that pays him an extra $170m and keeps him locked up well into the next decade.

I would be remiss in my duty if I didn’t mention all these quotes come from the timeless hit “Anchorman” of which my generation repeated ad nauseum (this was a time before GIFs took over the way Millennials expressed themselves.)

“Son of a bee-sting.”

Boy, Machado sure can sting the ball can’t he *insert laugh track. * Machado has managed to clobber at least 28 home runs a year (not counting the COVID year of course) since Obama was in office and Donald Trump was just a failed reality star and businessman with a weird tan.

Glancing at his Savant page looks like staring into the depths of an inferno with how much red you see, and just how consistent he has been throughout the years which is huge in fantasy to know what you can relatively expect from a high draft pick.

“Don’t act like you’re not impressed.”

I feel like Machado is maybe a little bit underrated perhaps, at least speaking for myself. He’s been so good for so long you can kind of just glance by his name and look for the new piece of shiny metal that just turns out to be a piece of foil. For his career Manny has slashed .282/.341/.493 and while he will never be mistaken for Rickey Henderson, he chips in a handful or more of steals a year as well.

It`s also hard to believe that Machado is still just 30 years old which just proves his dominance even more, as he hit the ground running in 2012 as a 19-year-old and has not looked back since.

“They’ve done studies, you know? Sixty percent of the time, it works every time.”

So, what can we expect from Machado this year and in the subsequent years? I mean more of the same really. I tend to take a three-year approach when researching players for a dynasty squad as you always need to have an eye on the future while not losing the forest through the trees with a five or more-year outlook in my opinion.

Barring injury or the world receding into the depths of hell, Machado should stay his normal consistent self, hovering around 30 home runs, a handful of steals, and solid counting stats. I know it seems like kind of a hedge but look at his career line, and that’s what you can expect from Ol’ Reliable.

Yu Darvish, Age: 36, Position: SP

Analysis by: Phil Barrington

“Merry New Year!”

Ah, Spring. When hope springs eternal, and every player is in the best shape of their lives, and we can’t wait to start another season. For the first Triple Play of 2023, I want to take a look at the Padres Ace and see what we can expect and what you can do with him in your Dynasty Leagues, for the upcoming season and beyond.

“Looking good Billy Ray! Feeling good Louis!”

Darvish is coming off of the best season of his career since 2013 (that’s a decade ago, for those of you that don’t like math). He posted a 3.10 ERA, struck out 197 batters in 194.2 innings, and picked up 16 wins with the second-best walk rate of his career (1.71), good for 8th of all qualified pitchers. He also finished eighth on the Razzball Player Rater amongst all pitchers and had 25 quality starts,

“Buy low, sell high. Fear? That’s the other guy’s problem.”

A nice follow-up to a bad 2021 season where he posted a 4.22 ERA. Now, savvy managers saw that ERA and looked under the hood, as Darvish had a 3.32 xERA, went after Darvish, and were handsomely rewarded. Darvish also racked up Quality Starts (25) and went at least six innings in all but two of his 2022 starts.

Just as those underlying metrics showed a better than resulted 2021, they also show us a worse than resulted 2022. That 3.10 ERA was backed by a 3.49 xERA; not bad by any means, but not as good as the prior season. The lowest K rate (9.11) of his career does not give me a lot of hope for a return to his career k/9 over 11 in his career before last season.

Those 25 quality starts were also the most he had since 2013, and the 16 wins were the most since his rookie season in 2012. Wins are fickle, though Darvish is on a good team and he always goes at least six innings. What I don’t like is when he gave up runs, he gave up at least three runs in 13 of his 30 games started, and it wasn’t consistent at all as the Pirates, Nationals, and Royals, were amongst those 13.

“Sell! Sell! Sell!”

It must be said (must it be though?) that I traded Yu before last season in my main league; there were other minor pieces involved, but basically it was for Luis Urias (oops). So…am I a little bitter? Probably, though I still won the league (like you care, right?). I took a risk, and it backfired, but those trade risks are always present. To the point, I still don’t believe in Darvish beyond this season. This is one of those, “get out while the getting is good” situations.

I remember back in the late 00’s when Darvish was dominating in Japan and the excitement about him coming stateside was bigger than Ohtani’s. I wouldn’t give Darvish away (or trade him for a Milwaukee multi-position eligibility infielder with promise but no delivery…yet) but I would look at getting a younger pitcher and top-100 prospect from a contender.

Jackson Merrill, Age: 20, Position: SS, Level: High-A

Analysis by: Drew Klein

Running on Empty

In any other year, there would be many names to choose from the San Diego Padre prospect list, but that’s not currently the case. Like any good dynasty manager knows, prospects are assets, and the Padres cashed in their assets in some high profile trades as they’ve assembled what they hope will be a contending club for many years.  If their plan works, they’ll have time to restock the cupboards.  Now, however, with no disrespect to recent draftees Dylan Lesko and Robby Snelling, Jackson Merrill stands alone as their only prospect who’s shown star potential for the brown and gold.

Somebody’s Baby

Merrill climbed up the draft boards in 2021 shortly before the draft. His strong senior year led the Padres to take him with the 27th pick. He passed on his commitment to the University of Kentucky and signed for $1.8 million, below slot value. Scouts graded him high on his hit tool and speed, but had doubts about his power. In 120 plate appearances in the Complex League in 2021, he put up a .280/.339/.383 slash line, no home runs and five stolen bases.  Take note that he had a 59% ground ball rate, pulling the ball 48.7% of the time. These numbers could be an indication that he was pressing, trying to pull everything, or it could indicate who he is as a hitter.

The Fuse

Last year saw a dramatic increase in his numbers, before a wrist injury limited him to 219 plate appearances in Low-A. He hit .325/.387/.482 with five home runs and eight stolen bases. His batting average was buoyed by a .393 BABIP and an incredible 7% swinging strike rate.  He had a contact rate of 90% for pitches in the zone and an 85% contact rate overall. Simply put, he possesses an impressive hit tool. He returned from the injury in time for the playoffs and impressed many scouts with his performance in the Arizona Fall League, including an appearance in the all-star game.

Doctor my eyes…

… have seen that swing. I could watch videos of Jackson Merrill swinging the bat all day long.  He has a narrow stance, balanced swing, and keeps his upper half steady through the swing.  The key to his high batting average is a flat swing that keeps the bat in the zone longer, leading to high contact rates that would be elite at any level, accompanied by high ground ball and line drive rates. He hits the ball hard and often, so the high BABIP is to be expected, although .393 may not be sustainable. What I don’t see is a fly ball rate that will generate home runs.  With many prospects, we assume that they’ll grow into their power, but I don’t think that’s the case here.  Any power in his game is going to need to come from a swing change, which would have an impact on his contact rates.

Load Out or Stay

I don’t know what to project for Jackson Merrill because I don’t know what he and the Padres are going to do with his swing. I hope that they’d be happy with the elite hit tool and continue to develop a .300+ hitter who will steal a few bases and not worry that he won’t be providing home runs. I can also see a future in which one or both decide to try to convert that hard hit rate into fly balls, which would mean altering his swing so the bat spends less time in the zone.  He’ll still have that great hand-eye coordination, so it won’t totally destroy his batting average, but there will be a decline. Either way, he’s going to be a very good baseball player on the field, but not as elite as a fantasy baseball asset.

Merrill will either be a player who helps you maintain BA or OBP while you get power elsewhere, or a slightly above average shortstop with a good to very good batting average and double digit home runs. I think he’s being overvalued in fantasy right now, and if I had him on a roster I’d already be looking to sell high, not because I think he’ll be a bust, but because I’ll get value now that may not be there later.


(Anchorman, Trading Places, Jackson Browne songs)

The Author

Phil Barrington

Phil Barrington

Fantasy player since 1999, specializing in OPS leagues. Accountant by day, fantasy writer by night. Spreadsheets are life.

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