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Bits: Impact of Manny Machado injury

9/24/2013

Fantasy owners have become used to seeing Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado play pretty much every inning of every game since his promotion to the major leagues last season, which is part of the reason he’ll be so missed. Machado gruesomely hurt his left leg in Monday’s 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, and as of this writing the severity of the injury has not been determined. Regardless, fantasy owners should plan on finding another third baseman the rest of this week. The hope is that Machado, the No. 10 third baseman on the ESPN Player Rater and a strong keeper for 2014 and beyond -- the kid is 21, after all -- isn’t hurt so seriously that it affects next year or hampers his development.

Machado’s real-life value is among the best in the game thanks to his magical defensive prowess and durability, placing him among the top 10 in Wins Above Replacement (WAR). For fantasy purposes, though, he’s barely among the top 100 overall players, so not quite a superstar yet. Name value and the lure of upside can often send a player’s value overboard, and that could happen with Machado. After all, while he’s universally loved, his numbers don’t warrant being a top-50 pick in most leagues in 2014. Assuming Machado’s season is over, he hit .283 with 14 home runs, 71 RBIs and six stolen bases. The expectation is that Machado will continue to develop more power, with some of his many doubles turning into home runs, and he’ll become a middle-of-the-order run producer.

Of course, while Machado’s future seems limitless, it would be nice if he’d take a few more walks and work on plate discipline, as he has 112 strikeouts versus 29 walks. Machado’s first-half value was predicated on his .310 batting average and 45 RBIs, and he hit 38 doubles before the All-Star break, putting him on pace to break the big league record. Then Machado hit one double in July to end that threat, but his struggles continued. Since the All-Star break, Machado has hit .236 with a lowly .273 on-base percentage. The doubles were starting to turn into home runs, but it was making Machado a lesser hitter overall. In addition, all six of Machado’s stolen bases came before the break. Ultimately he profiles as a 30-homer, 100-RBI guy with perhaps 10 stolen bases, but again, let’s hope he’s healthy enough to attain the lofty expectations. If you’re in an AL-only league and need the at-bats, look for Danny Valencia and Ryan Flaherty to play third base for Baltimore this week. Not quite the same, unfortunately.

Box score bits (AL): For those still playing for something, make sure your players are actually playing, and you’re using bench spots properly. Two other players shut down for the final week include Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer (concussion) and New York Yankees lefty CC Sabathia (hamstring). Mauer finished with a .324 batting average, right at his career mark. That’s a real difference-maker at catcher, and worthy of a top-five selection at the position. Sabathia struggled to the worst season of his career with a 4.78 ERA and should be quite the discount choice in 2014. If you can get him outside the top 30 starting pitchers, definitely go for it. … Texas Rangers lefty Derek Holland got back on track Monday by shutting out the Houston Astros on six singles. He fanned nine. And people say the Astros aren’t valuable! Holland’s ERA for the past month entering Monday was 6.32. … Alex Rios hit for the cycle. The home run was his 18th, so that’s mildly disappointing, but he might finish 2013 in the top 10 on the Player Rater. No complaints there. … Chicago White Sox prospect Marcus Semien hit his first big league homer Monday. Semien, who has played second base, shortstop and third base in his brief time for Chicago, hit 19 home runs and stole 24 bases in the minors, and he walks a lot. He could be very interesting in 2014.

Box score bits (NL): Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez homered Monday for the second time in three games, and is hitting .344 this month. Ramirez will likely come at a discount in 2014 drafts, but the guy can still hit. … Brewers right-hander Marco Estrada continued his excellent second half, shutting down the Atlanta Braves Monday. Estrada entered with a 2.62 ERA since the All-Star break and then allowed two hits over seven shutout innings. He’s a strong pickup later this week against the New York Mets. … Speaking of Mets, Lucas Duda homered again, his 15th! Duda has done this over roughly half a season of at-bats. Hmmm. Yes, if healthy and competent enough defensively to play regularly, Duda has 25-homer upside. … Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay left his Monday start after three batters with what was called shoulder fatigue. Don’t expect Halladay to start later this week, and his future is obviously in doubt. … Meanwhile, the Phillies were shut out by Miami Marlins right-hander Nate Eovaldi and two relievers. It was Eovaldi’s fourth win in 17 starts. Eventually the Marlins will build an offense and Eovaldi, one of the hardest throwers among starting pitchers, will be an intriguing fantasy option. It could happen next year. … Update on Cincinnati Reds speedster “Usain” Billy Hamilton: 13 stolen bases, 14 at-bats. Ridiculous. If all you need is steals, definitely add him.