Machado is still hitting the ball really, really hard, but is that enough?
Do you think Manny Machado and the Orioles are happy there isn’t a #narrative to go with the worst hitting season of his career? On one hand, no one is propagating wild theories that Joe Maddon broke him with some intentional walks. No one is whispering about mysterious maladies or off-field distractions. No, all they have is a .230/.296/.445 first-half line and assurances that Machado is hitting the ball hard. Really, really hard.
While that makes him a slam dunk buy-low option for your fantasy team, the uplifting outlook probably isn’t raising many spirits in the Orioles' front office—or in Machado’s camp either, for that matter. The team that could contend without starting pitching suddenly can’t, and now their golden parachute—a year-and-a-half of a bona fide superstar—is probably sequestered for the time being by the law against selling low. For Machado, his perplexing down season (a la Bryce Harper’s 2016) could be one calendar fresher in the minds of potential suitors.
The way baseball is played has changed, so it's time to change the way we treat beanballs.
In his postgame remarks Sunday, Matt Barnes swore up and down that he didn’t mean to throw at Manny Machado. That was a fairly transparent lie, and also a fairly blameless and understandable one. Admitting to intentionally throwing at any batter roughly doubles the suspension a pitcher can expect. Barnes was just saying what he needed to say, in order to lose as little of his paycheck as possible.
He did say one thing that seemed eminently sincere, though: that he didn’t mean to put the ball anywhere near Machado’s head. I have no trouble believing that. In fact, I actively accept it. Most players acknowledge the role of beanball wars and even (unfortunately) embrace that form of vigilantism. They believe their judicious, tactical firing of baseballs at one another keeps the scales of justice balanced and prevents all-out brawls of the kind we saw more often 30 years ago. However, nearly every player also acknowledges that hitting a player anywhere near the head is a dangerous and damnable error, whether intentional or not.
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It was on purpose. Barnes denies it was on purpose, and you’re free to believe him if you want, but come on. Come on. We’re adults here. We know when other adults do stuff we’d tell kids not to do. This is that stuff. Barnes threw the pitch because Machado injured Dustin Pedroia on Friday on a bad slide. It wasn’t on purpose. Machado said it wasn’t on purpose. Pedroia said it wasn’t on purpose. Barnes said, Let’s be stupid anyway.
We, at Baseball Prospectus, have been talking about the six for a while now (three days and change to be exact, depending on when you are reading this) and the party continues to rage on. Yet before we rage, we shall calibrate—since rankings aren’t useful without knowing what you’re reading. The list you are about to read here presupposes a 16-team standard (read: 5x5 roto) dynasty format, in which there are no contracts/salaries, players can be kept forever, and owners have minor-league farm systems in which to hoard prospects. So feel free to adjust this as necessary for your individual league, whether it’s moving non-elite prospects without 2016 ETAs down if you don’t have separate farm teams or moving lower-risk, lower-reward players up in deeper mixed or -only formats.
PECOTA helps pick the best player in baseball for every age, from Julio Urias to Bartolo Colon and all the superstars in between.
I have a vivid memory from my little league days of sitting in the dugout after practice and listening intently as a teammate read Baseball America’s rankings of the best players in the country by age. The best player on our team, who later went on to play Division I ball, was annoyed by the notion of a 13-year-old somewhere else getting so much attention for what couldn’t possibly be (he figured) superior talent. The sixth-best player on our team, who later went on to write this article, found it fascinating that there was a 13-year-old so good at baseball that they were being written about in magazines.
Looking back on three targets from the pre-season. Wistfully.
One of our annual traditions I most look forward to here at BP is the Target/Avoid series we run as part of our pre-season positional coverage, as it allows us to get a little more in-depth with player recommendations and strategic examples that we feel particularly passionate about. The way the cards were dealt this year I ended up mildly unbalanced in my assignments, so we’ll start today with a look back at my “target” selections and then work our way through the “avoid” guys next week.
Quotes on Manny Machado, Nick Williams, Lucas Giolito and more.
Many of our authors make a habit of speaking to scouts and other talent evaluators in order to bring you the best baseball information available. Not all of the tidbits gleaned from those conversations make it into our articles, but we don't want them to go to waste. Instead, we'll be collecting them in a regular feature called "What Scouts Are Saying," which will be open to participation from the entire BP staff.
Is there any reason to doubt the Orioles third baseman's future as a fantasy star?
Blossoming into a genuine superstar in baseball is insanely difficult. Becoming a superstar in one’s early 20s is even more difficult. Doing so in one’s early 20s without anyone taking real notice, however, is even harder still.
How the Manny Machado incident(s) occurred, Jose Bautista's big night, the Tigers' bullpen problems, and more, plus what to watch today.
The Weekend Takeaway
By the bottom of the eighth inning of Sunday’s series finale, the Athletics and Orioles had seen just about enough of each other. With the A’s up 10-0 in the rubber match at Camden Yards, Fernando Abad threw at Manny Machado twice, and the second straight tight one led Machado to chuck his bat toward third baseman Alberto Callaspo:
In the debut edition of this series, the fantasy team looks at players who could outperform their PECOTA projections in batting average.
One of the fun ways we all try to outsmart our opponents in fantasy is by searching for hidden value in players who, for one reason or another, we suspect have the ability to outpace their projections (and, relatedly, their draft cost). Our Darkhorses series features staff picks for players who could very well outpace their PECOTA projections for the year and finish at the top of one of the standard five-by-five categories. We’ve all picked one player currently projected by PECOTA to fall just shy of the top 10 (in the 11 to 25 range) and one longer shot player currently projected outside of the top 25. We’ll take a look at offense this week and pitching next. To kick things off here is a bounty of hidden treasure in the batting average department: