- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
Harper is perceived to have more power, Trout more speed. Trout is thought to have more range, Harper the better arm.
But it’s time that the conversation over the sport’s best young player be changed. It must include a third player -- the Orioles’ Manny Machado. In the year that Harper was drafted No. 1 overall, Machado was chosen two picks later, and the 20-year-old has continued to be overshadowed by Harper and Trout. He arrived in the big leagues a few months after the two last season, and hasn’t had the sort of attention that the other two have had.
This season, however, Machado has blossomed, hitting .315 in his first 65 games, with 34 extra-base hits (including 27 doubles) and 41 runs. Already, Machado is regarded as one of baseball’s best defenders on the left side of the infield.
I informally polled a bunch of talent evaluators around the sport about how they would rank the three players, and based on their answers, Machado already is viewed as a player comparable to the other two -- and there already is concern over Harper’s ability to stay healthy.
Total number of votes: 9. Points are based on 3-2-1 system. Here are the results: