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Manny Machado: This Year’s Anthony Rendon

I live in Washington, D.C. and from a baseball standpoint I was absolutely spoiled in 2014. I subscribe to MLB.tv so I can watch my hometown Red Sox and anything else going on in the league, but sometimes I’m just not in the mood to fire it up and I find myself watching the local games. Watching the local games wasn’t half bad this year since I was able to see the Nationals and Orioles both win their divisions, and I got to witness one of my favorite young players, Anthony Rendon, enjoy a breakout year.

There are few things in baseball more impressive to me than rocket line drives down the left field line that get caught by horizontal third basemen, or balls stopped deep in the hole and rifled to first. Third basemen do it all from flashy defense to putting the ball over the fence, and no one was better in 2014 than Rendon. I am here to tell you that even though Rendon is the guy coming off the MVP-vote type season, it’s Machado you want to target in your dynasty leagues.

Before we get into what they do on the field, the first thing to consider is price. This year Rendon finished second on the ESPN player rater at third base to Miguel Cabrera, who will not be eligible there this year. The price to acquire the 24-year-old stud is going to be among the highest in the whole game right now. Considering position eligibility and age I can definitively say that there are only three guys I would for sure draft above Rendon in a new dynasty league: Mike Trout, Paul Goldschmidt, and Giancarlo Stanton. Outside of those three there are other players you could argue for but it would take some convincing. You will and should pay an exorbitant price for Rendon in dynasty.

Machado on the other hand has fallen from favor since his spectacular sophomore campaign where, according to Fangraphs, he was worth 6.3 WAR; Rendon in 2014 was worth 6.6. In the two years since Machado has fallen victim to his knees with surgery in both 2013 and 2014 on his left and right Medial Patellar Femoral Ligaments. These health concerns could scare you away, but I used them as an opportunity to buy a special player at his lowest value.

Year Name WAR
2012 Mike Trout 10.1
1996 Alex Rodriguez 9.2
1929 Mel Ott 8.0
1955 Al Kaline 7.3
1939 Ted Williams 7.1
1907 Ty Cobb 7.0
1952 Mickey Mantle 6.6
2013 Manny Machado 6.3

I have given you a bunch of evidence of high WAR seasons at a young age by Machado, most of which was driven by his sublime defense, but there is ample hope for the bat scouts thought would terrorize opposing pitchers. In that same spectacular 2013 season Machado only hit 14 HR, but his 51 doubles were good for second in all of baseball. Let’s remember all the Machado facts before we start writing him off. Machado was drafted as a teenager with the third overall pick in the 2010 draft. Machado, like Bryce Harper, made his MLB debut at the age of 19 and has just recently turned 22 years old. Twenty-year-old players just don’t come into league and play that well so quickly, and when they do they usually end up in the Hall of Fame. Machado’s age-20 season in 2013 was worth the eighth-most WAR all time for a 20 year old—the list itself is very impressive.

Name Ave Fly Ball Distance HR/FB % K% FB% IFFB%
Nolan Arenado 289.2 11.4 12.4 41.8 15.2
Anthony Rendon 287.6 10.4 15.2 39.6 6.9
Adrian Beltre 284.5 11.1 12.1 35.6 2.3
Manny Machado 283.3 15.0 19.2 30.9 12.5

My biggest question following Machado’s 2013 knee issue was whether his power would return so his fantasy star could continue to rise. In 2014, Machado’s power not only returned but increased leading to his highest average fly ball distance of his career at 283.3 feet. While Machado doesn’t have elite fly ball distance, it isn’t bad ranking both eighth among third basemen and only a few feet behind Rendon’s 287.6-foot distance. Ever more encouraging about Machado’s health is that his average distance is continuing to increase and doing so rapidly, up five feet in one year. Out of those players with better batted ball distances, only three managed to bat better than .275 and have a better K% than Machado over the last two seasons: Rendon, Nolan Arenado, and Adrian Beltre.

Steamer likes Machado to have a very similar season to Rendon next year even if his unsustainable HR/FB rate drops from 15%. Coming off the two knee surgeries, we likely won’t see much base stealing from Machado, but that was never a part of his game we counted on for fantasy purposes. Machado is exactly two years and one month younger than Rendon and trending in the right direction. He had some additional swing-and-miss to his game last year and if he can match the 16% K rate Steamer projects and maintain the power gains from 2014, he should see his HR total increase.

In closing, Machado does a whole lot of things at a high level; it just so happens that he hasn’t done them all in the same season. Machado’s 2013 K% and BA look a lot like those of Rendon from last year, and his 2014 HR pace didn’t lag far behind him either. Both Rendon and Machado have batted second in the lineup for most of their short careers, and if Machado can continue to increase his BB% we could see very similar R and RBI totals.

I believe Machado can rebound from the surgeries and put it all together which is why I ranked him third in my “2015 Fantasy Dynasty Third Base Ranks” behind only Rendon and Josh Donaldson. At his peak it isn’t hard for me to imagine Machado having 25-plus HR power, especially if he can reduce those infield fly balls and turn them into the outfield variety. Not many guys have his pedigree or 10.1 WAR through age 22, and right now he’s on sale. Buy yourself lots of Machado shares before his stock goes Apple on us.

Jake Devereaux also writes for BaseballProf.com You can follow him on Twitter @devjake

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Jake Devereaux

Jake Devereaux

7 Comments

  1. […] believes Manny Machado can be this year’s version of Anthony […]

  2. Larry
    November 22, 2014 at 1:42 pm — Reply

    He will need to hit more fly balls, 30% isn’t going to lead to much of a hr improvement. Rendon went from 33 to near 40, but his ground ball rates were also about 40 while Machado’s pushes 50.

    • November 23, 2014 at 11:30 am — Reply

      I agree Larry he needs to improve in that regard. He did a good job last year of starting to bring down his IFFB% and his rookie year he was close to 40% FB rate but the GB tenancies continue to be there. It would be interesting to see Adrian Beltre’s batted ball data at the same age since he made his debut at 19 just like Machado however it is unavailable of Fangraphs. I think there is certainly hope for him to turn it around and his HR/FB rate is strong along with the ability to post good K% so he is 2/3 of the way there. We should really know what we have here in about 3 seasons. When guys debut so young they are developing more at the major league level than a player who makes his debut at 25. Lets remember Manny would be finishing his senior year of college right now.

  3. DSR
    December 30, 2014 at 4:43 pm — Reply

    Hi Jake,

    I’m in a 12 team, 10 keeper with no penalty for keeping, league. 10×10 scoring with standard 5×5 cats plus H, XBH, TB, BB, and OPS for hitting. Start 1 player in each position (LF, CF, RF) and a Utility. I’ve been offered Starlin Castro and George Springer for Manny. I have no SS on roster (Dee Gordon no longer eligible) and my OF consists of Dickerson, Upton, and Myers. Also am keeping Buxton. I love Manny, but am sorely tempted by Springer and Castro, or possibly a 1st rd pick instead of Castro. Also, I could push for Harper. What are your thoughts?

    Thanks

    • December 30, 2014 at 6:48 pm — Reply

      So I am actually all for this move. While Machado has potential to be a great player Springer should be the far more productive fantasy player and with Myers a question mark I think he fills a big need. Castro is also a fairly high level fill in at SS. I wouldn’t hesitate here. As for pushing for Harper over Springer, I’m not sure it’s a huge upgrade if at all and short term Springer could be better.

      • DSR
        December 31, 2014 at 3:11 pm — Reply

        Thanks Jake!

  4. […] site for the last two seasons and missed your chance to get Machado now is my chance to say, “I told you so.” His breakout could been seen from a mile away and the fact that it happened at such a young age […]

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