Manny Machado didn’t break into the league with the type of fanfare that the likes of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper achieved, but it hasn’t taken him long to establish himself among baseball’s top youngsters and is well on his way towards superstardom. He’s been among the game’s best players, in more ways than one, since his callup last August.
The bat is obviously there. It’s part of what has helped Machado to become an MVP candidate for the Baltimore Orioles here at the All Star Break. He’s hitting .310 with a .337 on-base percentage, has knocked in 57 runs, and swiped six bags. Better yet, he’s flashed some power as the season has worn on, which will make him an even bigger threat going forward.
But the questions surrounding Machado don’t really concern what he can do at the plate. The questions for Machado moving forward are where he’ll be fielding ground balls in the future. A shortstop his entire career, Machado has yet to grab a start there, instead logging his time in the bigs at the hot corner.
As a third basemen, we’ve seen Machado do some incredible things. He has a cannon for an arm, as we’ve seen multiple times throughout his career already, and has tremendous instincts at third base. He’s been terrific there, as evident by his plus-16 UZR, which is at a Gold Glove level.
Which gives a pretty clear indication as why there’s no reason to move Machado from his current spot. In addition to the fact that he’s been extremely successful at third base, the Orioles have an All Star at shortstop, in J.J. Hardy, who has been very good in his own right.
The recent buzz over Machado making a return to short is a bit puzzling, though it probably has more to do with the All Star Game than anything. Machado might see himself as a third baseman, but as of right now, he’s one of the best defensive third basemen in the league. Combine that with an All Star at short, in Hardy, and there’s no reason to think of him as anything other than a 3B at this point.