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Sunday, July 26, 2015

FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: MANNY MACHADO FINALLY ARRIVES AS MONSTER FIVE-TOOL STAR

When the Baltimore Orioles called up top third base prospect Manny Machado in 2012 for his first foray into Major League Baseball, I said at the time that he reminded me of a young Miguel Cabrera the way he swung the bat.  Blessed with terrific hand-eye coordination and extreme bat speed, Machado had it all in terms of approach.  Throw in burgeoning power and a decent dose of speed and stardom seemed like a lock.  Of course we never can totally account for injuries and how they tend to disrupt our rosy projection and that certainly was the case for Machado who suffered TWO serious knee injuries that threatened his career before it even got started. 

The first came in 2013 when Machado blew out his knee running to first base in his first full season.  The footage of Machado's blown out knee was gruesome and surgery was soon performed.  Projections had Machado ready for the start of the 2014 season however so expectations remained high when fantasy baseball drafts rolled around.  Like with all knee injuries however, they often take longer to heal than expected which was the case for Machado who began the year on the DL.  Machado would make it back onto the field soon enough though and began to hit ropes all over the diamond to once again reignite the superstar talk.  12 home runs in only 327 at-bats at the age of 22 suggested that Machado was right on schedule there.  Unfortunately the 327th at-bat for Machado would be his last in 2014 as he tore a knee ligament while swinging the bat during an August game.  Another knee surgery was needed and his season was over early once again.  With Machado now already having undergone two serious knee surgeries in one year's time at such a young age, many gloom and doom scenarios began to circulate.  Primarily the concern was that Machado's speed would already be gone and that he would not even be able to steal a base any longer.  Also there was discussion that his power would be hurt as well since Machado would not be able to generate the power in his swing that he once had due to the reconstructed knee.  Put all that together and Machado was nothing but an afterthought during 2015 fantasy baseball drafts. 

Fast forward to present day as Manny Machado is fresh off his first MLB All-Star Game appearance.  The honor was fully earned by Machado on the strength of a ridiculously productive breakout season for him in 2015 that has instantly put him into superstar status just like yours truly and many others once predicted.  At the age of only 23, Machado has become the rare five-category monster at third base with the following numbers as of Saturday's game:

.301
21 HR
51 RBI
60 R
14 SB

Those numbers are fantastic and better yet they have come out of the precious leadoff spot for Machado who has hit the baseball hard all season.  There is virtually nothing to critique when it comes to Machado's season thus far and he is drawing comparisons to a younger David Wright when he was a first round fantasy baseball pick on the strength of his five-category talent.  The only thing that could hold Machado back now is more injuries but so far he has managed to stay totally healthy.  What is really interesting is that Machado still has a few seasons to go before he reaches his prime but he already is now firmly in at least Round 2 territory for 2016 fantasy baseball drafts when next spring comes around.  A star has been born but this one seemed like a simply formality. 

 

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