Stats from Baseball Reference for Manny Machado
Manny Machado is one of the great young stars in Major League Baseball today. Drafted 3rd overall in the 2010 draft by the Baltimore Orioles, only behind Bryce Harper and Jameson Taillon. When drafted, people made comparisons to Alex Rodriguez because he is a big shortstop 6’ 2” and is from Miami. Right now, he is constantly compared to the two other young hitting stars in the game today, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout. Based on his value, current career path, and possible future career path, let’s see how he fits, or will fit, into baseball history.
Machado was drafted for his superb bat and defense at the shortstop position. He played this position for the majority of his minor league career; in fact he only played two games at 3rd base rather than shortstop. He entered the Major Leagues at age 20 last year on August 9th, 2012 (it is considered his age 19 season because he began the year at age 19). He came up and changed the Orioles team, which was slumping at the time. He also did not do it with his bat. His slash line of .262/.294/.445 was good for a rookie 20 year old in the MLB but would not have changed a team offensively. In fact, he changed the team defensively at third base with only 2 games experience in the minor leagues! The Orioles had one of the worst fielding percentages at third base before Machado was called up. And after he was called up, he only made 5 errors with a fielding percentage of .967 and also had one of the great defensive plays of 2012. The Orioles never looked back and made the playoffs for the first time in 15 years.
Machado is on a torrid pace in his first full season in the MLB. In his age 20 season, he is on pace to break a record that has been standing for 82 years. Using only 155 games and the average amount of AB’s in his current 53 games to calculate the amount of AB’s he will get this season, his projected amount of doubles is 70. This would break a record of 67 set in 1931 by Earl Webb. The rest of his statistics are good, but not nearly as great. He is projected to have 18 HR’s, 85 RBI’s, 15 SB’s, and a .332 BA.
Projecting Machado is an interesting task. The Alex Rodriguez comparisons are hard to make now that Machado has some significant MLB stats. Alex Rodriguez’s 20 year old season is one of the great seasons in MLB history and is only really comparable to Mike Trout’s 2012. A-Rod had 36 HR’s, 123 RBI’s, 15 SB’s, and a .358 BA. With a Wins Above Replacement (WAR) of 9.3 in his age 20 season, it is almost entirely unrealistic to think Manny Machado will have a WAR that high. Even though Machado’s already has a 3.3 WAR for this year, it will be hard to reach 9.3 for multiple reasons. The WAR for shortstops is naturally higher because it is a much harder defensive position than third position. The other reason is A-Rod has admitted to using steroids so his statistics may have been helped by performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). This makes projecting Manny Machado through A-Rod a tough task because of these factors.
Machado does compare well to a similar big bodied shortstop that happened to play with the Orioles as well, Cal Ripken Jr. Ripken in his first full season (Age 21) in the majors had 28 HR’s, 93 RBI’s, 3 SB’s and a .264 BA. Ripken’s WAR was only at 2.6 for that whole season. Machado has already surpassed that and I believe will continue to get greater as the season goes on. Machado does not appear to have as much homerun power as Ripken at this stage in his career. Machado almost has as many doubles (24) as Ripken (32) had his entire season in just 53 games. Machado has more speed than Ripken but appears to be on a comparable season to Ripken except with less homerun power and more gap to gap power and speed. The greater batting average also bodes well for Machado. If Machado has a career similar to Ripken’s, he will go down as one of the all-time greats in MLB history.
Overall, my opinion from watching him and looking at statistics is that Machado’s future is a bright one. He has a smooth swing from the right side and has projectable power as he continues to grow into is large 6’ 2” frame. His overall value as a player is very dependent on whether or not he goes back to his natural position of shortstop. He would become the man that runs the infield and controls the game the most besides the catcher. I believe he will go back after JJ Hardy’s contract runs out in 2015 or in the summer of 2014. I say the summer of 2014 because if for some reason the Orioles fall out of contention, they could trade JJ Hardy to a contender for some prospects. Then they could move Machado to shortstop then call up 3rd base/infield prospect Johathan Schoop to play third base as he should be ready by that time. If he moves to shortstop, he could turn out to be one of the great offensive shortstops of all-time. I don’t believe he will put up big power numbers like A-Rod or Cal Ripken. I do, however, think he will be an as good or better fielder than those two and have a higher batting average. I think he will probably be a .310 hitter with around 30 homeruns in his prime and good to great defense while playing shortstop and then back to third once he gets older, like Rodriguez and Ripken. This would lead to a great career. I can’t guarantee these numbers but barring injury I believe he will have a great career. For my sake as an Orioles fan, I hope he stay an Oriole through most of his career as well. That will depend on whether they can sign him to a cheap contract through his arbitration years (2016-2019) and possibly through some of the first years of free agency post 2019. It may be hard to keep the whole core that is there now together, but hopefully they can keep Machado around for a long time.
May 30, 2013