Andrew Stetka: Machado’s MVP case could be unique

We may not be to Memorial Day yet, but it’s not too early to start examining candidates for Most Valuable Player. The Orioles have their own this year, and it’s a familiar face. Manny Machado is going to be in the conversation all season long, no matter what team he is playing for by the end of it. The 25-year-old has already twice finished in the top five in MVP voting in his career, placing fourth in 2015 before coming in fifth two seasons ago. Only five other players have sniffed the top six in MVP voting for the Orioles since Cal Ripken Jr. won the honor in 1991. The best hope of an Oriole ending that long drought lies on the shoulders of No. 13.

No player has ever won the award while playing for two different teams in a season, which is also something Machado may have the chance to accomplish. Rumors will continue to swirl around him as the season progresses. But there’s certainly no reason to believe Machado is going to slow down anytime soon, no matter what uniform he dons. He’s hitting a ridiculous .350/.431/.669 for an OPS of 1.100 with 13 homers. What’s impressed me perhaps the most about Machado’s approach this season is his ratio of 23 walks to 23 strikeouts. In this day and age, that’s something you don’t see very often. Instead of thinking he has to carry an offense that has mostly struggled to this point, Machado is taking what has been given to him. He hasn’t been overaggressive to a point that it is hurting his production, which is something we’ve seen from many Orioles hitters in the past.

Machado is currently in the top five of all the major offensive categories in the American League. He’s certainly going to face a battle for individual honors with players like Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Aaron Judge and Francisco Lindor. Each of those players is the cornerstone of their team’s offense, just like Machado is to the Orioles. He’s been the straw that stirs the drink for a few years now. What is also remarkable about Machado, especially this season, is that he hasn’t let the weight of rumors surrounding his future get in the way of producing on the field. Just last week, Machado became the youngest Oriole ever to hit 150 home runs. And there could be many more milestones in Baltimore. But time could also be running out.

If you simply type “Manny Machado” into your search engine of choice, you’ll likely get auto-fill responses from a number of teams not named the Orioles who are interested in Machado. If you pull up a list of recently published blogs and articles on Machado, the majority of them will come from other cities like Chicago, New York or Los Angeles. There are currently rumors out there that send Machado to the Mets, Cubs, White Sox and Dodgers. Those are just from the past week. Go back even farther, and the list of teams expands. It’s not something any Orioles fan is going to be able to get around for the next few months. I came to an understanding with myself before this season started. I was going to enjoy and embrace each moment that Machado remained in an Orioles uniform. No one knows when that will end. No one knows if it will end. It’s a tricky game of chicken that will be played out, but the clock is ticking.

Andrew Stetka blogs about the Orioles for Eutaw Street Report. Follow him on Twitter: @AStetka. His thoughts on the O’s appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s continuing commitment to welcome guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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