Prior to suffering a devastating injury, Manny Machado was having a rather impressive rookie campaign. In 710 plate appearances, the 21-year-old third baseman recorded 88 runs, 71 RBIs, 14 home runs, six steals and a .283 average. Oh yeah, and he set a rookie record with 51 doubles. What should fantasy owners expect from the Baltimore Orioles‘ young stud in 2014?
I believe that Machado is a candidate to be one of the most overvalued players in fantasy baseball drafts this season. Machado spent most of last year being compared to Mike Trout and Bryce Harper and for many prospective owners, those comparisons, along with his doubles record, might be enough for them to reach for the third baseman on draft day. There are a few concerns I have about Machado for 2014 though.
First, the injury. While all signs are currently indicating that Machado’s rehab is going smoothly — Buck Showalter came out earlier this month and said he expects Machado to be ready by Opening Day — he’s still a ways away from being back to full strength and anything can happen during rehab.
Also, this wasn’t the first injury he’s suffered in his left knee; Machado suffered a patellar subluxation in that knee back in 2011, and these types of injuries can become chronic. While it’s fantastic that his rehab is progressing faster than expected, it’s still daunting to consider that he’s now had two left knee injuries before turning 22. Especially in redraft leagues, it’s enough for me to knock him down an extra round or two.
Secondly, his power, or lack thereof. There are many people who subscribe to the theory that doubles translate to home runs … and I’m not one of those people. Despite the 51 doubles, Machado’s .148 ISO was right around the league’s average last season (.143), and his batted ball distance was just 278.33 feet (169th in MLB). Those two numbers certainly aren’t leading me to believe that a power breakout is on the horizon.
Also, if you take a look at where Machado hit his home runs, you’ll notice that he hit 13 of his 14 home runs to left field, and that distribution has not historically coincided with a player whose power is on the rise.
Machado is a great baseball player and there’s a very strong chance that he goes down as one of the transcendent talents of this generation. However, he provides much more value in real life (where his gold glove defense has a tremendous impact) than he does in the fantasy world, and I believe many are going to mistakenly draft him as a top-five third baseman.
I have Machado projected to put up 74 runs, 60 RBIs, 15 home runs and five steals to go with a .286 average. I have him ranked 16th among third baseman (behind Pedro Alvarez, Kyle Seager and Pablo Sandoval) and 109th among all batters (behind Adam LaRoche, Daniel Murphy and Ben Revere).
If you play in a redraft league, it’s probably best if you refrain from spending a high draft pick on the Orioles’ young third baseman.