Manny Machado set career highs in home runs, RBI, runs, and batting average, cementing his first-round status despite not stealing a single base. Such $30 players have to be good across the board or great in a few things, and luckily for Machado owners, he is excellent in the other categories. Sure, it would be nice if he stole bases again, but the rest of his excellence will do just fine. Picking faults in Machado is like saying your Lamborghini is only getting up to 220 mph on the Autobahn. While he is split-neutral in terms of batting average, 86 of the 105 homers he has hit in his career have come against right-handed pitching. Machado has good bats in front of him and behind him, which puts him in an ideal spot of the lineup to continue to be a top-shelf run producer. The team hits like a softball team, but Machado could be even better if the Orioles add a true table-setter to the leadoff spot.
Machado went 2-for-4 with a solo home run in Saturday's World Baseball Classic victory over Team USA. Down 5-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Machado kick-started the Dominican Republic's 7-5 comeback win with a deep fly off Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark. Machado was just 3-for-18 (.167) over seven Grapefruit League contests before leaving for the WBC. However, the All-Star third baseman has found his stroke on the world stage, going 4-for-9 with a homer and pair of runs scored through the team's first two games.
Machado plans to play in six or seven spring training games before leaving to join the Dominican Republic's team for the World Baseball Classic, Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com reports. After playing in all 162 game in 2015, the Orioles' three-time All-Star sat out just five games last season. Machado's large workload over the past two campaigns, combined with his expectation to make another run into November this year, has him thinking about late-season fatigue. "You also don't want to go in and play too many games early on [in the spring] and get tired. I know we're going to play quite a few games in the Classic," Machado said. "You don't want to play too many games as well because I don't want to get fatigued for the year." He and manager Buck Showalter have already met to lay out a plan for spring training, and Machado is confident he'll be fine for another full workload in 2017.
Machado agreed to a one-year, $11.5 million contract with the Orioles on Friday, avoiding arbitration, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Machado batted .294/.343/.533 with 37 homers and 96 RBI en route to a second consecutive top-five finish in the American League MVP voting -- and he's still just 24. He's now regained shortstop eligibility after making 45 appearances at the position last year, but it's uncertain how often Machado will run moving forward.
Machado had a huge day Tuesday, going 3-for-6 with a grand slam and five RBI in an 11-2 win over the Rays. The blast came as part of a six-run fourth inning that gave the Orioles a lead they would never relinquish. It was Machado's 34th home run of the season and brought his RBI total to 90. Combined with his solid .304 batting average and excellent defense at third base and shortstop, it's been an all-around spectacular season for Machado, who is still just 24 years old.
Machado went 1-for-4 with a two-run homer Tuesday against Toronto. Machado's 444-foot bomb in the fifth inning was one of three long balls for a homer-happy Orioles offense. The 24-year-old is now just three shy of last season's career-high 35 home runs, and has made up for a lack of steals with a .306/.357/.563 line. He has left the yard 10 times in August after doing so just nine times in the previous two months combined.