(Photo Credit: REUTERS/KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI)
2018 has been kind to Baltimore Orioles shortstop Manny Machado, the 25-year-old slugger ranks among the best hitters in the league and on an Orioles team that ranks dead last in the American League East with a 15-33 record and a -68 run differential, it’s safe to say Manny Machado presents a strong case for the MVP award should he continue the way he’s been playing.
Machado is on pace for a career year and with this being the final year of his contract before being eligible for free agency, his tear couldn’t have come at a better time. He’s in line for a huge payday this fall and the Orioles have a fantastic trade chip on their hands in Machado, who poses a serious threat for the Triple Crown with these gaudy numbers
|Statistic||Machado’s number||AL Rank|
|Runs batted in||43||1st|
|On-base plus slugging||1.061||3rd|
While Machado is a formidable threat at the plate, he really made a name for himself from his stellar work in the field when he first broke into the league. He has a career fielding percentage of .969 and possesses one of the strongest arms in the league. We have also grown accustomed to watching Machado make a fair share of highlight reel plays like these:
What also makes Machado so valuable to the Orioles is his versatility, he recently transitioned from his usual home at third base to shortstop this season, and he hasn't missed a beat at his new full-time position. Machado played a significant amount of time at shortstop in 2016 after an injury to then-starter JJ Hardy. Machado offers a rare talent on the left side of the infield with a decent range and a fantastic arm.
However, Machado finds himself on the 15-33 Baltimore Orioles in a division that comprises a two-horse race, with the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees in a league of their own and the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays struggling to play catch-up. The Orioles find themselves tied for the second-worst record in the American League and though history would suggest that Machado is undeserving of the MVP award because of his team's lack of success, this case may be different.
As stated earlier, Machado is in contention for the Triple Crown due to his phenomenal work at the plate and continues to shine in the field, there may not be a more deserving candidate as of right now. Sure, JD Martinez is making a strong case with his bat as is his Boston teammate Mookie Betts, but he's primarily used as the Red Sox' designated hitter. Machado has shown exemplary talent on both sides of the ball so far this season. As of right now, if Machado continues to play the way he is, he should be the American League MVP. The only scenario in which he may not win is if he's traded to a National League team, but that debate is for another time.
One thing is certain. Machado is one of MLB's premier talents not only at the plate, but in the field. His combination of power, contact, versatility, fielding, and arm strength make him one of the most valuable assets in the game today and he should be rewarded accordingly.
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