<
>
Insider

Assessing Manny Machado's value

6/11/2014
AP Photo/Gail Burton

Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, once lauded for his maturity and ability to handle pressure at such a young age, now can’t stay out of the news due to his childish and potentially dangerous behavior this past weekend against the Oakland Athletics. Moving past the apologies and the suspensions and all the noise leaves us with this undeniable fact for fantasy owners: He’s really not worth owning in a standard league anymore, certainly not this version, and this version has been in play for what, 11 months now? However, a generally impatient group of fantasy owners still has Machado and his hollow .222 batting average owned in 100 percent of ESPN standard mixed leagues. Clearly there’s some disconnect here.

I’m not saying Machado is an obvious drop; as always, it depends on the circumstances of your league, whether it’s a keeper or not and who is available to replace him. You don’t cut Machado for Brock Holt or Eugenio Suarez, after all. But for how much longer will Machado get what appears to be a free pass? He’s the No. 37 third baseman on the Player Rater. His reputation has changed in the past week, that’s for sure. At some point the statistics, if they stay on this path, will change his ownership, too. The soap opera continued Tuesday when Machado was suspended for five games, soon to be followed by his quickly and confidently appealing it, but I’m not sure fantasy owners should care whether the ultimate price is three games, four or five. The main thing dropping is Machado’s batting average and short-term (2014) value. Put simply, Machado is showing no signs of being the dynamic player he was the first half of 2013, when he hit .310 with a record pace of 39 doubles. After the All-Star break, he hit .240 with 12 doubles. He wasn’t hurt then and he really shouldn’t have been fatigued that early, so yes, we can presume pitchers figured him out, and that's still the case.

Let’s be fair here: Machado’s left knee, torn up in a really unfortunate way late last season, still isn’t right, no matter what he or the organization is telling you. Machado is no Billy Hamilton to start with, but watch him run and he’s not all the way back. He missed April rehabilitating, but he just might need more time, perhaps in the minor leagues, as has been rumored lately. Or it might not matter because this just might be a lost season. It’s not like he’s hitting the baseball hard and into bad luck, though his BABIP is a bit depressed. That happens sometimes when you’re not fast and hitting so many ground balls, as he is. More grounders, from 47 percent last season to an elevated 57 percent, is quite the jump. Not coincidentally, the fly ball rate is way down, too, and he’s striking out more and not hitting the ball hard. He was never going to steal bases to make up for all this, either. It’s an ugly combination.

Machado still has a really bright future. I’ve got him in a keeper league and I don’t want to trade him. But I don’t want him active anymore, and in a redraft format in which the only thing that matters is the 2014 numbers, it’s time to move on. This isn’t getting better. Machado is hurting and at least for now hasn’t made the proper adjustments to what pitchers are doing since last July. The optimist will say that Machado, still 21 for a few more weeks, will obviously improve, and I would concur with that. He shouldn’t be a .222 hitter for long. But there’s also a reason that Machado was high up on my bust list this season, and it was related to the knee injury. I didn’t expect this, though, the complete lack of plate adjustments. Until those things change, I can’t understand the 100 percent show of faith in his ownership.

AL report: Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi hopefully has turned a corner with recent performances. He lost 1-0 to Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals Tuesday but permitted only three hits and one walk, with the run coming on a Matt Holliday home run. Odorizzi, doing excellent work striking hitters out, lowered his WHIP from 1.53 to a more palatable 1.42, and it should keep dropping. … Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier homered and stole a base as well Tuesday -- combo meal! -- and is on pace for an incredible 36 of each. That’s amazing, and while I say he ends up with around 24 homers and 30 steals, that’s still amazing. … The beleaguered Texas Rangers called up Brad Snyder to play first base -- Donnie Murphy, really? -- and he batted in a run Tuesday. The 32-year-old lefty hitter has serious minor league experience, but in a Garrett Jones sorta way he could become relevant in deep leagues. … Several struggling Kansas City Royals enjoyed their Tuesday against the sizzling Corey Kluber and several Cleveland Indians relievers. Eric Hosmer homered, just his third of the season. Mike Moustakas took lefty Josh Outman deep. A lefty! And Billy Butler singled twice and knocked in a pair of runs. Hosmer remains the best option here, and his owners should know it; the guy is a career .260 hitter prior to the All-Star break and hits .293 after it.

NL report: Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco made his big league debut Tuesday with a single in five at-bats, and like a new car being driven off the lot the first time, his value changed. I like Polanco a lot, but most rookies struggle. Mike Trout did. George Springer did. Oscar Taveras is struggling. Be patient. Or trade Polanco for a ton before his first 10 games are up. … Pirates lefty Francisco Liriano, who clearly cannot be trusted, left Tuesday’s outing prematurely with left side discomfort. Perhaps that’s the side where his ERA and walk rates are posted. It’s discomforting for all. Expect a DL stint, but you shouldn’t care any longer. … Nice pitchers’ duel at Coors Field between the Atlanta Braves and Colorado Rockies, eh? Tough to take much of the hitting performances seriously, but if you’re an Andrelton Simmons owner you know there’s lurking power there. He hit a first-inning grand slam. And Tommy La Stella has no power, but look at his batting average and the fact that he doesn’t strike out. I love it. … The Cincinnati Reds welcomed back first baseman Joey Votto from the DL, and he singled and walked in three at-bats. He should be leading off, but that will never happen. … Remember when people still wanted Votto over awesome Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt? The latter delivered his second combo meal in three games Tuesday, giving him 13 home runs and five stolen bases on the season. He’s certainly been worth his draft-day value.