The Orioles just announced the winner of their Most Valuable Oriole Award for 2015. To the shock of many, Travis Snider is not the winner. On the contrary, Chris Davis is the winner. This award is voted on by members of the media in Baltimore, for obvious reasons.
Other players to receive votes include Zach Britton, Darren O’Day, Caleb Joseph (yeah, that Caleb Joseph) and that Manny Machado fellow. Wait a second, you mean to tell me the guy who has played in every single game this season, lead in half of the offensive categories for the team and had the first 20/20 season by an Oriole in 16 years did not win? What exactly am I missing?
Let us start with the obvious: home runs and RBI’s. I do not feel like diving into why using RBI’s to judge a player’s worth is utterly ridiculous because it has been well documented by many baseball minds. If you want to read about this, check out this Athletics Nation article that can explain it better than I ever could.
Anyways, back to home runs. Chris Davis, as of October 2nd, has 45 of them. Manny Machado does not. Home runs can be a good assessment of how good a player is or whether he is better than another player. For example, Davis has 45 home runs and Bryce Harper has 41. Does that mean Chris Davis is better than Bryce Harper? It does not, because it is not the only statistic that exists to judge a player’s worth.
Sure, home runs are fun. But while Davis hit those 45, Machado hit 33 for himself breaking his personal record of 14 in 2013. In between hitting those 33 home runs, Machado also stole 20 bases, giving the Orioles their first 20/20 player since Brady Anderson in 1999. Along with Brady, Manny joins Paul Blair, Don Baylor and Reggie Jackson as one of only four Orioles to have a 20/20 season. For an even more exclusive club, Machado is only the second Oriole ever to post a 30/20 season, the other being done by Brady Anderson. That is pretty impressive, if you ask me.
This is in no way a knock to Chris Davis winning the award. Davis had a great bounce back season after having a disastrous 2014 campaign and I was happy to see him rebound the way he did. Along with that, he is a free agent this upcoming off season and is most likely on his way out of town, to the dislike of many fans. This is the perfect opportunity for the Orioles to market Manny Machado as the face of their franchise, and hopefully the guy who sticks around for years to come.
The Angels have done it with Mike Trout, the Nationals with Bryce Harper, the Marlins with Giancarlo Stanton and so on. This is also not to knock anybody else on the Orioles, like Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, etc., it is to have a fan base rally around one of the best young talents in the game. It is to have kids come out to the ballpark and wear the shirt or jersey of their favorite player. It is the chance to build around one of the best young talents in the game, an opportunity that only happens ever so often in baseball.
With all of this said, it does feel a little like Manny Machado is under-appreciated in Baltimore for what he does bring to the field every single day. Along with him, Adam Jones, Jonathan Schoop and Zach Britton, they could become the core of the team that gets built around it and hopefully one day lead to a championship.
For as much fun as a Chris Davis home run is, a Manny Machado play in the field is just as exciting.