Manny Machado keeps the baseball community anxiously awaiting his free agency decision. As the off season carries on, several free agents already found new homes. While Machado has toured with the teams interested, he plans to hold off his announcement until after New Year’s.
He recently visited the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, and Chicago White Sox, and there is much speculation as to where he winds up. Many fans and even players feel that Machado is destined to don the pinstripes.
Machado is going to the Yankees. Yankees go out and get everyone. Red Sox are lethal. Rays are dangerous. Can never sleep on the Orioles. I’m going to the gym. Gonna be in my zone all year. Excited to compete in the best division in baseball! #ALEast
— Marcus Stroman (@MStrooo6) December 20, 2018
Just my opinion on Manny going to the Yankees. No insider info. Preparing to see Judge, Harper, Machado, Stanton, Sanchez, Hicks, Gleyber, etc. all in the same lineup…then go pitch against Mookie, JD, Bogaerts, Devers, Bradley, etc. in my next start! Lol #readyforitall
— Marcus Stroman (@MStrooo6) December 20, 2018
Manny Machado Is Not the Game Changer Yankees Need
The talent Machado possesses is undisputable, but is he the player that thrusts the Yankees passed Boston? The answer may be surprising.
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When someone has an issue they wish to fix, the worst tactic is to add more of the same. If someone needs to lose weight, they shouldn’t eat more junk food. If a restaurant’s employees barely make any money because it is overstaff it should refrain from higher new servers.
The Yankees won 100 games in 2018 and hit 267 home runs. Therefore, their offense is by no means an ‘issue.’ That being said, signing Machado is the equivalent of this. As it stands, their lineup is full of right handed power, lacking consistent contact.
Basically, Machado is another right handed power hitter. The Yankees do not really need another one of those. They already have Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, Miguel Andujar, and Luke Voit (when playing). Also, while Gleyber Torres is not considered a power hitter, he still hit 24 home runs in 123 games last season.
That means currently, six of the Yankees’ nine hitters are right handed and can hit for power. Coming off a record setting home run season, a right handed power bat appears to be the last thing they need.
In addition to the saturation of right handed power, the Yankees also strikeout a lot. The six right handed power hitters previously mentioned, struck out 719 times in 2,828 plate appearances in 2018. That is over 25% of the time.
The best strikeout percentage of that group was Andujar at 16%. For comparison, Machado struck out 14.7% of the time in 2018. This was actually a career low and he trends more towards 16.5% for his career. Machado definitely puts the bat on the ball more often than a lot of current Yankee starters, but he still strikes out a lot relative to what the Yankees could have gotten this offseason.
Their lineup was certainly potent in 2018. The issue was their reliability on the home run and vulnerability to the strike out. Therefore, it makes sense to target players that put the bat on the ball this offseason.
Daniel Murphy and Michael Brantley fit the Yankees to a tee. Both are left handed hitters that make a lot of contact. Murphy has never struck out 100 times in one year and averages just 64 strikeouts a season with a percentage of 12.4 for his career. Brantley, though injuried at times, has never struck out 80 times in a season. He averages 48 strikeouts a year and has a percentage of 10.7 for his career.
Does He Fit?
Machado does not strike out to the level of Judge and Stanton, but he is by no means a consistent contact hitter. Factor in his being a right handed power hitter and he is far from a great fit for the current Yankee team.
His only redeeming quality is his talent, but, again, how much of a difference maker will he be if they already have a plethora of players just like him. Adding Machado is adding more of the same, and that will not get the Yankees past the Red Sox in 2019.
Defensively, Manny Machado is one of the best out there…at third base. At the hot corner, Machado, art times, drew comparisons to Hall of Famer, Brooks Robinson. He was a Gold Glove caliber defender and his defensive runs saved is 85 at the position, averaging a rating of 15 per year.
Defensive Runs saved evaluates the overall defensive value of a player by showing how many runs above or below average they are. Machado’s numbers at third base are superb, which bodes well for the Yankees long term if the plan is to shift him to third base.
In the short term, Machado will play shortstop will Didi Gregorius rehabs from Tommy John surgery. Although shortstop is the position that Machado came through the minor leagues playing, he is not a good defender at that spot.
In 2015, his DRS in seven games at shortstop was -1. In 2016, it was 3 in 45 games. 2018, his first season as a full time shortstop, his DRS was -13. That includes a -18 rating with the Orioles before being traded.
His total DRS at shortstop is -11, and he averages -7 per year. In short, this indicates that he is not a great defensive shortstop, and he will make the infield weaker as a result.
Last December, the acquisition of Stanton had Yankee fans everywhere jumping for joy. One year later, they are ready to move on from him. This is because ‘all’ he did was lead the team in home runs with 38 and RBIs with 100. He capped it all off with a poor showing against Boston in the ALDS. Yankee fans are hard to please, and there is reason to believe that Machado will follow in Stanton’s footsteps.
2018 was Stanton’s first trip to the playoffs so there speculation as to how he would perform. While it will be tough to predict the Machado’s exact performance, it is easier to forecast how he would perform in the playoffs than it was for Stanton.
Machado has 23 games and 99 plate appearances experience in October, a solid sample size. He is a .213/.268/.382 hitter, who strikes out over 24% of the time. Against the Red Sox, he hit .182/.208/.182 during the five games of the World Series this past year.
If the goal is to surpass the Red Sox and become champions again, Machado’s track record certainly isn’t significant enough to warrant believing the Yankees surpass their arch rivals.
Manny Machado is an extremely talented player, but sometimes adding the most talent does not make the most significant of differences. The Yankees are very right handed and just set the record for most home runs in a season. How does adding another right handed home run hitter make them drastically better?
The Yankees are prone to high strike out totals. How does adding a player, who may not have awful strikeout numbers though still not great compared to what was available, make the team more consistent offensively?
The above points could be excused if the defense Machado provides at shortstop is as elite as his defense at third base. The problem, though, is that it isn’t, so how does ensure a stable infield defense?
Sometimes it is easy to turn the other cheek on a players flaws when they become a postseason hero. With Machado’s sub-par at best postseason numbers, especially against Boston, it is hard to imagine this will be the case.
So, how, then, does Manny Machado prove to be the missing piece that the Yankees need to overtake the Red Sox in the AL East and win their 28th championship? The answer is simple. He isn’t the missing piece.
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