Baltimore Orioles FanFest has come and gone as fans, media, and others get a long-awaited update on the state of the Orioles baseball team.
Machado, 25, will begin the season in Baltimore after agreeing to a $16 million contract and most importantly, avoided arbitration. Most noteworthy, Orioles manager Buck Showalter announced at FanFest that Machado will be the Orioles Opening Day starting shortstop, moving Tim Beckhman to third base.
Many forget about Machado’s experience and talent at shortstop. Some are even saying that Machado is playing out of position, which isn’t true whatsoever.
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The 6-foot-2 All-Star played shortstop throughout high school and the minors before making his MLB debut with the Orioles. At Brito Miami Private School in Florida, Machado earned high remarks at shortstop as PerfectGame.com’s 2009 National Showcase Report notes his “smooth footwork at SS, quick hands, showed good arm strength, athletic actions on all plays, solid body control.”
On the other hand, scouts noted concerns of Machado possibly outgrowing the position, per PerfectGame.com:
"The second is whether Machado will outgrow shortstop and move over to third base or whether he’ll maintain the athleticism and agility to stay in the middle of the field. Those 30-40 home run shortstops are pretty rare….pretty much just Alex Rodriguez and Troy Tulowitzki in that club."
Here’s a video clip of Machado from the 2009 National Showcase:
However, by the time Machado reached the big league’s, J.J. Hardy was the Orioles starting shortstop and an All-Start in 2013. A few years later, following J.J. Hardy’s injury in 2016, Machado got his chance to play shortstop for an extended period. In 43 starts at short, Machado posted a .971 fielding percentage.
So, after 715 starts at third base in six seasons, Machado wants to move back to his natural position shortstop which in the end may be the move that gives any chance of Machado staying with the Orioles past 2018.
Per Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com, Showalter elaborated on Machado’s move to short:
"I can’t imagine him being in a better frame of mind or physically set up to do this. I think out of his respect for J.J. the last few years he’s been very professional about it, but it’s not like he’s changing positions. He’s going back to a position that he was equipped to play.It’s Manny’s natural position and he’s basically played shortstop in the shift for three or four years. I think we’re moving Manny back to his natural position."
Kubatko’s article also mentioned Showalter’s confidence in Machado switching positions after how well he quickly switched from short to third base while playing in the minors.
Best of all, the move likely makes Machado happy but also best friend Jonathan Schoop who will now have the pleasure of turning many many exquisite double plays like this one:
Lastly, one player who deserves the utmost respect is infielder Tim Beckham, who gladly gives up his position at shortstop to accommodate the team. Basically, Beckham just wants to win and help the team out whatever way possible. Now if that’s not a team player, I’m not sure what is.
Machado has voiced his desire to move back to shortstop for the past couple of years and will finally get his chance in what likely is his last season in Baltimore.