Manny Machado: “People thought I wasn’t going to be the same”

Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson won 16 Gold Glove Awards at third base. Manny Machado won his second tonight.

Machado has some serious catching up to do, but he’s on a nice pace with two awards in the last three seasons. And he just turned 23 in July.

Robinson and Machado are the only Orioles third basemen to win multiple Gold Gloves.

“Any time you’re mentioned with Brooks in any conversation, it’s an honor,” Machado said. “He’s one of the greatest third basemen of all time. He’s an Oriole, he’s been around our company quite a bit. At the end of the day, it’s just an honor to be in the same conversation as a person like that. Very respected. It’s just a great honor.”

Machado arrived at the January minicamp claiming that he had “brand new knees” following his two surgeries. He had no doubts that he would be ready for opening day, that he could play every day, and he was right.

He also did so at an elite level.

machado-orange-sidebar-throw.jpg“It just gives me a little token of all the hard work that I put in for the last couple years,” Machado said. “I’ve gotten injured and people doubted me. People thought I wasn’t going to be the same. It just made me push harder. I wanted to be the best out there, I wanted to show everyone that I was still going to be the best position player out there, the best third baseman. It just feels good that I’m back at where I needed to be.

“I know it was tough and a lot of things didn’t go our way and a lot of things did go our way, but it was a great journey and something that I really enjoyed, the whole process of getting back to where I needed to be.”

Machado came up as a shortstop before the Orioles moved him to third base in 2012. He’s studied the players who competed against him for the Gold Glove this year - the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre and the Rays’ Evan Longoria, who have combined for six awards.

“When I came up, I had never played third base in my life, so I watched a lot of YouTube video of Adrian and Longoria, just to see how they played, how they did their pregame routines and how they caught grounders. Kind of see their highlights and get a feel of what third base is and how I’m supposed to be playing it,” Machado said.

“To this day I’m still learning. I’m grateful and fortunate to have such a great third base coach and infield coach as Bobby Dickerson that’s pushing me every day. He knows the game. I’m lucky to have him by my side pushing me every day. We get into a lot of fights and stuff, but I think he just always wants the best for me, and I’m grateful to have him by my side pushing me every day to be the best third baseman that I can.”

Machado led all American League third basemen in total chances (488), double plays (38), range factor per nine innings (3.09) and range factor per game (3.01) in 2015. He also ranked second in assists (337) and putouts (132), as well as fourth in zone rating (.810).

According to FanGraphs.com, Machado finished second among American League third basemen with 14 defensive runs saved and third in defensive runs above average (10.8) and ultimate zone rating (8.4).

Machado also was the only player to appear in every game this season.

“Playing 162 gives you the opportunity to win the Gold Glove, and vice-versa. Winning the Gold Glove gives you the opportunity to go out there and play 162 games,” he said.

“I think 162 was great. I’m definitely going to try to do it again next year. I think both accolades, at the beginning of the year those were both goals that I set for myself. Not to win the Gold Glove, but to be the best defender that I can and get back to the Gold Glove caliber that I played that position at before.”

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