Aug 10, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (13) throws to first for an out against the Seattle Mariners during the seventh inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
It is certainly a great honor for Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado to win his second Rawlings Gold Glove Award in the past three years. I’ve lived long enough and in the media markets to have seen such as Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt play, and Manny is better – especially when factoring in the arm to first base. Amazing.
Even so, I have some misgivings about this award. I don’t think it should be totally and mechanically determined by defensive metrics, and such analyses and numbers only account for 25%. So a player’s reputation can go a long way, along with the simple eye test as seen by the coaches and managers who comprise the other 75%.
In fact, Machado had 21 errors this year. Many of them were on nonchalant throws rather than fielding miscues. Beyond that, nine of them came in the first 38 games of the season.
However, as nice as the Gold Glove is, I believe there are a number of other categories and aspects of his game that were more valuable and impressive in 2015.
Playing Every Game – Machado played more games during the regular season than anyone else … all 162 of them. This was especially impressive after the two knee surgeries and the substantial concerns about what sort of recovery he would and could accomplish. It is a thing of the past, and that is worth a lot more than a Gold Glove.
Plate Appearances / At-Bats – Along with playing the most games, Machado had the most plate appearances in the American League with 713 — two more than Josh Donaldson. His at-bats totaled 633. In 2013, Machado had 710 plate appearance and 667 at-bats, the latter number being the most in the league that year. With three more plate appearances than two years ago, he had 34 less at-bats. Why? Because he walked 70 times this year and only 29 times in 2013. This demonstrates greater plate discipline while also maintaining his aggressive posture.
WAR Numbers – Though not as large a fan of WAR metrics as many other baseball writers, they do give at least a broad perspective of the ranking of players against one another. Machado was #6 in the American League at 7.1; and beyond that he was #4 in offensive WAR at 5.7. This is at least as good, and probably better, than a Gold Glove.
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Hitting 35 Home Runs – It was presumed since Machado arrived in the big leagues that he was going to hit more and more home runs as time went by and he matured physically. At the beginning of this 2015 season, most Orioles fans would have been thrilled to think that Manny could club 25 dingers. But to hit 35, good for 10th in the league! That is way, way bigger than a Gold Glove.
Stolen Bases – Machado was 12th in the AL in stolen bases with a total of 20. In the previous 199 games of his young career, he totaled just 10 swipes. This is demonstrating how Manny is becoming one of the rare and very best multi-tooled players in the game.
So, it is nice for Machado to win a Gold Gove and continue the O’s string of getting them now for five consecutive years. But there is better stuff about which to be more excited.