Contrary to popular belief there are two 20 year old studs playing in the DMV.
I will start this article off by saying this is not a compare and contrast between Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. Harper is a stone cold stud and what he is doing to live up to expectations none of us know anything about is pretty incredible. Harper is the best player on his team at 20 years old. That kind of thing just doesn’t happen often in any sport let alone baseball. So now with that out of the way so no one can say I am Harper hating, Manny Machado is a stud in his own right and doing things that people need to notice.
Late last season when Machado came up he had played 5 games at third base in the minors, and now at the start of the 2013 season I would say he is in the running for a Gold Glove. That is not bad for a guy who in 2-3 years could be the starting shortstop for the O’s, or at the least stay at third base and give the Orioles more options to sign or trade to bring in a shortstop when JJ “Ball So” Hardy is done playing.
Okay, this is the only time I will compare Harper and Manny; when Harper got switched to an outfielder he got a whole season of reps in the minors before he was brought up, Machado got about 12 hours at third base.
Where Machado has really shown improvement is at the plate. Entering play today he is 5th in the league in hits, 5th in doubles, and is rolling on a 10 game hitting streak. The astounding thing about Machado at the plate is his knowledge of the strike zone, it’s not very often you see Machado chase a pitch out of the zone before he has two strikes and is forced to protect. It seems like every time he is up it is a quality at bat. He also has given the Orioles a solid number 2 hitter which is huge considering the O’s rotate Nick Markakis and Nate McLouth in the lead off spot depending on whether or not the other opposing team throws a righty or lefty. Having some sort of consistency in the line up is huge for a team trying to get to the playoffs.
The Orioles have a bright future with Machado on the roster because he (much like Harper) is all about winning and doesn’t care how it gets done. While Bryce may get the big time head lines and ESPN Covers (which he deserves all of), Machado just needs to simply keep hitting, fielding, and winning, and as an Orioles fan I will love every second of it.