Manny Machado is off to the slowest start of his career. Neither you nor the Baltimore Orioles should be concerned though.
Historically, Baltimore Orioles third baseman, Manny Machado has started the season slow in three-out-of-five full seasons in the big leagues. As a matter of fact, in 2014, 2015, and now in 2017, Machado has started the first 12 games with a batting average south of the Mendoza line.
In 2014, Machado started the year 9-for-47 (.191), with one home run, and only one RBI. Remember, Machado tore a ligament in his left knee at the end of the 2013 season and had successful surgery to repair it in the offseason. His debut came on May 1, 2014, in the nightcap of a day-night doubleheader.
The following season, Machado started the year with just seven hits in 42 at-bats. That’s a .167 average, his lowest to date. Machado hit just one home run and knocked in five, however, all was forgotten by the end of May. Manny finished the year strong with a .286/.359/.502 slash line, and 35 home runs.
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Through 12 games this season, Manny has gone 7-for-44 (.159) and has just two hits in his last 22 plate appearances. One of those was his only homer of the year, a two-run shot off Toronto Blue Jays reliever Matt Dermody.
A strong finish comes after a weak start.
In the seasons where Machado starts cold, he ends the year hot. In 2014, he hit .344 in his final 30 games of the season, with seven home runs and 19 RBIs. He also finished those games with a .377 on-base percentage. Unfortunately, his season ended abruptly after injuring his right knee on August 4.
Following his second consecutive slow start, Machado went 31-for-116 (.267) in his final 31 games of the 2015 season. His on-base percentage during September/October was noteworthy because he was kept off base in just three games, and finished that stretch of games with a .372 OBP.
No reason to be alarmed, Machado will begin to hit.
If you were to tell me through the first 12 games of the season, Manny Machado would be hitting .392 and would have mashed five home runs, I’d say you were in the wrong season. As a matter of fact, that was last season.
Strangely enough, Machado’s hot start last season may have been from him getting good pitches to hit, and seeing the ball well to open the year. That seems to have changed just a tad this year.
It could also be that opposing pitchers aren’t giving him anything to hit. Through 12 games in 2016, Machado saw 74.1% of pitches in the lower half of the strike zone, and this season, that’s down to 65.6%.
Above all, Machado is going to turn it around. He’s going to hit, he’s going to mash, and he’s going to be as productive at the plate as ever. If you’re willing to count him out after 12 games, you’d be willing not to understand why he’ll turn it around.
While he’s cold though, maybe the Baltimore Orioles should begin contract negotiations. There’s no way he’s worth $400M hitting .159!
Please, don’t take that serious, that’s a little I’m-afraid-for-contract-negotiations-to-begin humor.