With Opening Day just over a month away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2017 Orioles every day as they try to return to the postseason for the fourth time in six years.
3B Manny Machado
Opening Day age: 24
Contract status: Under club control through the 2018 season
2016 stats: .294/.343/.533, 37 HR, 96 RBI, 105 R, 0 SB, 696 PA
Why to be impressed: Machado cemented his status as one of the top players in baseball, finishing in the top five in AL MVP voting for the second straight season and winning his first Most Valuable Oriole award. He set career highs in home runs, batting average, extra-base hits, runs, RBIs, and slugging percentage to go with a .309 batting average on balls in play, suggesting little extra luck was involved.
Why to be concerned: His walk rate dipped from a career-best 9.8 percent in 2015 to an underwhelming 6.9 percent, which largely explains the decrease in on-base percentage. Machado saw his homer rate go up after the All-Star break while his extra-base hit rate dipped and he finished with a .306 OBP in the second half, numbers suggesting he became too aggressive and homer happy in his approach at the plate.
2017 outlook: Machado’s second-half decline — which still produced a .798 on-base plus slugging percentage — is indicative of how difficult it is to sustain such immense success rather than a red flag moving forward. The 24-year-old is at his best and hits plenty of home runs when looking to work the count and hit line drives, an approach he figures to recapture for another MVP-caliber season.
Not-so-scientific projections for 2017: .292/.350/.518, 34 HR, 102 RBI, 97 R, 4 SB, 680 PA