Baltimore Orioles: Is Manny Machado The Best In The League?

Apr 25, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (13) blows a bubble with his gum against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 25, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (13) blows a bubble with his gum against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Baltimore Orioles Manny Machado may have the edge defensively over Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, but he needs to be more patient at the plate if he wants to be considered one of the best players in Major League Baseball.

While Bryce Harper and Mike Trout have dominated baseballs’ national headlines, and rightfully so, Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado has quietly put himself in the conversation as one of the best players in the major leagues.

The twenty-three year old went through his bumps and bruises early on in his career suffering two serious knee injuries that cost him significant playing time. Aside from the injuries, he also had major attitude problems.

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In 2014, after a pitch was thrown at his surgically repaired knee, Machado threw his bat towards the pitchers mound, but luckily he missed his intended target. If he had hit that pitcher with his bat, the twenty-one year old Machado could have missed even more playing time. Since this ugly incident, Machado has matured and one could chalk up his early temper to being young and dumb.

It’s time to put Manny Machado under the magnifying glass. Should he be in the conversation with Bryce Harper, and Mike Trout when talking about the best player’s in the game? We’ll look inside Machado’s offensive, and defensive advanced statistics to find our answer.

Offense: Since 2005, Machado has the third most multi-hit games before turing twenty-four with 160, only behind Mike Trout and Starlin Castro. Bryce Harper is fourth on that last with 155. Over the last two seasons, Harper and Trout have the edge over Machado offensively but there is one number that the Orioles’ third baseman has over the two superstars:

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Screen Shot 2016-05-15 at 8.49.58 AM /

According to Fangraphs, over the last three seasons including this one, Machado strikes out nearly 7% less than Trout and Harper do. While he doesn’t take nearly as many walks as the other two, Machado is much tougher to K than the two best players in baseball. The batting slash lines aren’t far apart from one another with the exception being the on base percentage category. Harper and Trout get on base almost .055% more than Machado.

From a production point of view, the numbers don’t lie. Over the last three seasons, Machado has not been as productive as the other two sluggers, especially Mike Trout:

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Screen Shot 2016-05-15 at 9.05.05 AM /

While Trout has played in nearly 80 more games than Machado, he’s clearly been the most productive. But if Machado can continue to have year’s like the one that he’s currently having, then you will see the gap between these three superstars start to close. Machado is currently hitting .338 with ten home runs, and 23 RBI’s. He also ranks second in the league this season in Wins Above Replacement which is a telling statistic when speaking in terms of the Most Valuable Player award.

Defense: While Machado lags behind the two superstars in offense, he gets the nod on the defensive end. He took home his second career gold glove last season at third base, beating out Josh Donaldson, one of the best third baseman’s in the league. Bryce Harper and Mike Trout have not yet earned this award.

Over the last three years, Machado has saved twenty runs, Harper twelve, and Mike Trout hasn’t saved any. Trout has actually cost his team seven runs over that span. The question that remains: is the advantage that Manny Machado has on defense enough to put him in the conversation with the two best player’s on the planet? I don’t believe so because Trout and Harper are far from liabilities in the field and what they’re able to do with the bat outweighs any defensive efficiencies.

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All things considered, Manny Machado is not yet on the same level as Bryce Harper and Mike Trout but he isn’t far behind. If he can take more walks and get on base at a higher percentage, then the gap will close and one will be able to make a solid argument as to who the best player in all of baseball is. As for now, Harper and Trout are still in a league of their own.