It’s time for installment number four of this series as we continue to look at the optimistic and realistic approaches of each Orioles player. Manny Machado follows Matt Wieters, Chris Davis, Brian Roberts, and Alexi Casilla. Is the general optimistic buzz of Manny Machado the right way of thinking? Let’s find out.
Machado was the highest draft pick the Orioles have had in most of our life times. At third overall, he immediately drew comparisons to Alex Rodriguez (pre-steroids). Machado is a natural shortstop who possesses an abnormal amount of power for his position. He is a projected multiple time gold glove winner, who should eventually be elite at his position.
He was ranked #11 by Baseball America and #6 by MLB.com going into the 2012 season among all prospects. He reached 11 home runs and 11 stolen bases in a short number of games in the minors right out of high school. His eventual projection to be a 25/20 shortstop would put him in Troy Tulowitzki territory among comparables.
Last season Machado came up late, hit 7 homers including 3 in his first 4 games, and even hit an important playoff bomb. His 7 home runs in 51 games projects out to 21 over a full season. With his increased experience in the majors, people are projecting him to hit between 25 and 30 homers this season, while competing for a Gold Glove at third base.
Lower your expectations. Machado is going to be a superstar. He will eventually be a middle of the order, Gold Glove winning, power hitting, base stealing shortstop. For now, he’s just a 20 year old, young, kid, playing at the wrong position, trying to learn how to hit in the big leagues. Will he show flashes of brilliance this season? Yes he will. Will he be consistent? No. Will he break out right away? No. He struggled in the minors. Why? Because he came out of high school.
He came up earlier than most high schoolers ever get to the majors. That’s a good sign…long term. That doesn’t mean he’s going to break out and be a 20 year old All-Star right away. I know Trout did it, and I know Harper did it. But those are twice in a life time players. Machado will be great, but he isn’t Trout or Harper.
So what can you expect from his this season? I’m hoping you can eventually expect him to move to shortstop. That’s where he should be playing. My perfect scenario has him moving to shortstop, and Hardy moving to 2B. Then Davis can move to third base and the O’s can look to acquire someone like Justin Morneau, Logan Morrison, Garrett Jones, Adam Lind, Mike Olt, or Tyler Moore. At this point any of those players starting of Roberts/Casilla is a huge upgrade. But, that’s another story. For now, Machado will continue to play at thid to let Hardy play his natural position.
What kind of power will you see out of Machado? 18-21 home runs. Which is still solid for a youngster. Those are very good numbers from a number 7 or 8 in the order. He may continue to struggle with his batting average and will likely hit under .270. If all goes well, he could reach .280 this year though. You can also expect around 10 stolen bases. The defense will be great as he continues to occasionally wow everyone. Don’t expect a Gold Glove at his unnatural 3B position.
Overall, I love Machado. His future is very bright. When Hardy’s contract is up, he will move to shortstop, and be an elite player at that position. The projections for him to be like Alex Rodriguez and Troy Tulowitzki are possible. His defense will be great, his power will be high, and his speed will be serviceable. The only thing I’m personally worried about are his personal ties to Alex Rodriguez. He spent a few off seasons living and training with A-Rod. Hopefully the kid has a good head on his shoulders and we never hear his name in this Florida PED scandal. If we haven’t by now, I don’t think we will. Manny Machado 2016 AL MVP.
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