Despite having the best defense in baseball yet again, the Baltimore Orioles continue to miss Manny Machado. The superstar third baseman is recovering from a freak knee injury he suffered late last season against the Tampa Bay Rays. When Machado returns, his impact may not be instant, but once he returns to his 2013 form, the Orioles’ defense will have a chance to break the records that they set last season.
So far in 2014 Baltimore’s defense has been very good, as a team they’ve committed only four errors for a very impressive fielding percentage of .995 to lead the American League. But, all four of those errors have been committed by third basemen. Ryan Flaherty has committed one of them and Jonathan Schoop has committed the other three.
Saturday afternoon Schoop’s defensive struggles continued, he failed to field a bouncing grounder cleanly which allowed the Boston Red Sox to answer the Orioles’ first inning run with a run of their own. While it didn’t cost the Orioles the game it was obviously a crucial play, any play where a team scores is crucial.
Manny Machado may be a natural shortstop, but he made the transition to third base look easy; however, switching positions at such a young age at the major-league level is no easy feat. Jonathan Schoop is a natural second basemen, but has been playing a lot of third base in Machado’s absence.
When Machado comes back that allows Buck Showalter to move Schoop back to second base where he’s more comfortable and will allow him to use Steve Lombardozzi as a utility infielder which is what he was brought over to Baltimore to do in the first place.
Machado’s return will make the Orioles’ infield a lot deeper and more consistent, thus helping the O’s win more baseball games. And everybody knows that winning baseball games equates to a playoff appearance and you have to make the playoffs to win the World Series.