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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: THE FLUKE THAT IS THE "STRUGGLING" MANNY MACHADO

If I were to venture a guess, I would say that the subject theme "what is wrong with Manny Machado?" has been the most often arrival in my inbox this season.  Of course many Machado owners are reflexively firing off these e-mails to yours truly mostly on the fact that the All-Star Baltimore Orioles third baseman has seen his batting average languish terribly in near the Mendoza Line.  Even going into Tuesday's games, Machado sat with a putrid .216 average with pretty much two full months into the books.  So with so much data put forth already, these skittish Machado owners feel there has to be a reason why he is struggling and they also are beginning to question whether his monster 2016 was a fluke.  Well this one hits close to home for yours truly as I myself am a Machado owner and have been the last four years.  While I don't like seeing the .216 average, I can tell you I have zero concerns about Machado outside of possibly injury and in fact think that those who don't own him, should do what they can to buy low.

It is the batting average where we begin the discussion because that is where most of the hysteria is coming from.  Again .216 is a pretty nasty number to look at if you are a Machado owner but some context is in order.  The biggest red flag here is that Machado has had some downright brutal luck on the batted ball as shown by his current .225 BABIP.  Considering that .300 is neutral, Machado just can't buy a hit.  Also consider the fact Machado's BABIP has come in at .317, .297, and .309 the last three seasons prior to 2017 and you can easily see how bad his luck has been.  So it stands to reason the luck will eventually even itself out and that Machado will see a sharp uptick in the average department.

As far as the rest of the numbers, Machado is also doing a nice job with the walks, posting a BB/9 mark of 10.3 which is way up from the 6.9 he posted in 2016.  Again with Machado drawing a high number of walks, the average should begin to move upwards soon enough.  About the only negative thing you can say is that Machado is in fact striking out more this season (20.1 K/9 compared to 17.2 in 2016) but that could be because he is pressing a bit.  So while this is a legitimate reason for an average to fall, Machado is still doing so much more positive on the other fronts that it is not a major issue.

Finally, Machado is still doing his thing with the power as he has 10 home runs in 214 at-bats.  That is a pace for 31 and so all would be well there once again.  Machado even has two steals already compared to the zero he had a year ago.  So when you put it all together, Manny Machado makes for a tremendous buy low candidate and the chance to get a first round talent at a discount is something anyone should be interested in doing.  The guy is a terrific player and so don't let the average (which is very fluky) overshadow how much of a good impact he can make the rest of the season.


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