Orioles' Machado belongs in best young player debate
Ever since they were Arizona Fall League teammates in 2011, the debate has raged on: Who's the game's top young talent, Mike Trout or Bryce Harper? Manny Machado, for one, is sick of it. The Orioles third baseman has injected himself into the conversation by breaking out in 2015.
Slowed by knee surgeries the previous two seasons, Machado is finally complementing his Brooks Robinson-esque glove work with thunderous lumber. Once a hacker, he's now displaying patience beyond his years and has boosted his OPS+ from 104 during the 2012-14 seasons to 147, which tops all MLB third basemen. Machado also paces his position in Wins Above Replacement (5.2) and ranks behind just Harper, Trout and Paul Goldschmidt among all players.
We're living in a golden era of third basemen, with Kris Bryant crushing pitches on to Waveland and Sheffield Avenues and Nolan Arenado coming of age in Colorado. Machado? He might just be the best youngster we've seen at the hot corner since Ike held office. Harper and Trout might be baseball's Super Powers, but Machado's a contender.