In a league filled with firepower statistics from guys like Miguel Cabrera, it’s hard to recognize some of MLB’s better players that fly under the radar. The national media doesn’t help much either, as they always are sure to cover the big-market teams like the New York Yankees or even the slumping “hot-topic” teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Baltimore Orioles are a team that undoubtedly doesn’t get the media attention or even the recognition that they deserve. Sitting at 32-25 and taking over second place in the AL East, the O’s have given fans much reason to celebrate. Chris Davis has been hitting balls out of Camden Yards all year, but it’s been third baseman Manny Machado that has been the biggest reason for fans to fill the ballpark in Baltimore.
Machado has been playing like he’s been in the league for a dozen years in every aspect of the game. People will marvel at his incredible statistics at the plate, which include a .327 batting average, 25 doubles that lead the entire league, and 80 hits, but his play at third base has been unlike anything fans in Baltimore have seen since watching Brooks Robinson.
Getting to watch Machado every night, I can say that he is certainly the best third baseman in at least the AL and it would be a crime for him to get snubbed for the All-Star Game.
The biggest thing that makes me completely puzzled is the debate between who the best young star in the league is — Bryce Harper or Mike Trout.
It’s been a debate that has been discussed for hours by media everywhere, but is there a reason that Machado is hardly discussed in this sometimes-heated debate? There is proof on paper that Machado is better than these two, and if that isn’t enough, he passes the eye test just by watching his play in the infield.
Let’s compare some stats, and you can tell me which young star you would rather have.
Machado’s batting average speaks for itself, but it’s the situational things that prove he is far superior to Trout or Harper. With runners in scoring position and two outs, the 20 year-old is hitting an incredible .409 with only three strikeouts in 22 at-bats. Trout is only hitting .235 in these spots, and Harper has a number of just .250.
Erase whatever you have thought before — Machado comes through in the clutch more than the two “front-runners”.
Trout and Machado have similar numbers against both righties and lefties, making it very tough for opposing managers to match up their pitchers late in the game. Harper, on the other hand, has a significant drop-off when facing lefties — batting just .174. His career average is under .230 against left-handers, and that is a big reason why coaches are catching on, and furthermore proving that his play against left-handers is very concerning.
Yes, Harper is on the DL this year, but I’m not sold that Washington Nationals‘ young star is better than Machado or Trout overall.
Trout provides the best argument, but Machado has proven that he is and will be the better player in the end. We’ll see how this all plays out, but where things stand right now, I’ll take Machado over Harper or Trout any day.