Manny mania: MLB Network's Bill Ripken compares Machado to Trout, Harper

Orioles fans have marveled at the play of the now 20-year-old Manny Machado since his call up to the major leagues last August. The kid has clearly taken his game to a new level in recent weeks and a lot of people are noticing.

That includes the national media.

On MLB Network's "MLB Now" Wednesday, former Oriole and current network analyst Bill Ripken anchored a segment where he said when you talk about the top young players in the game - and the current crop is pretty outstanding - you must include Machado in the conversation.

When I interviewed Ripken yesterday he talked even more in depth about his take on Machado.

"I think all the conversation of the young studs always revolves around (Mike) Trout and (Bryce) Harper," Ripken said. "I get that, I'd take those guys on my team. But Manny deserves to be in the conversation as one of the best young talents this game has."

Ripken pointed out that the Orioles win percentage is .628 since Machado's call up and he also cited his clutch hitting with runners in scoring position and compared that to Harper and Trout.

"You can spin numbers how you want, but, in the case of Manny, I looked at his clutch play, his hitting with men in scoring position. His average is higher than the other two and his on-base percentage is higher than the other two and so is his slugging.

"I still believe in RBIs, some people don't, they think that is an outdated statistic, but I like the idea of someone that can get base hits with men on second and two outs. That is a clutch performer. In RBI per at-bat, he is right in between the two of them."

The network showed a graphic with Trout averaging an RBI every 6.90 at-bats in his career with Machado at one every 7.29 and Harper one every 8.13. No doubt, Machado is keeping pretty good company here no matter how you would rank the three.

"Plus I am going to value a third baseman more than I value a corner outfielder," Ripken said. "There are more balls put in play toward the third baseman than a corner outfielder, total chances.

"He is one of the best defensive third baseman in a conversation with (Adrian) Beltre and (Evan) Longoria. He is playing third as well as those guys.

"I ended that segment by also saying, 'He's playing out of position.' If we project this kid to play shortstop as well as he's playing third, think about how many teams would want to have a Machado and maybe some of those teams would even have taken him over Bryce or Mike Trout," Ripken said.

My conversation with Ripken ended with this question: Can Machado continue to post stats like he has? Can he keep up this strong start through the season?

"I don't think there really is a reason to think he can't keep doing what he is doing. The clutch performing part has really piqued my interest. Now he is hitting second and smashing the ball around the yard.

"When you see what he is doing in these clutch situations and how he handles himself at third, the absolute control that he displays on offense and defense, there is no reason to think he can't continue on this pace and maybe get better," Ripken said. "Pitchers will make adjustments, we know that, but he might have the ability to make better adjustments than them."

High praise indeed by a former Oriole for a current one.

See it here: You can click here to watch the MLB Network segment with Ripken discussing Machado.

Latest stats: After getting two more hits last night, Machado is now batting .317 with three homers, 18 RBIs, a .504 slugging percentage and .863 OPS.

He now has an 11-game hitting streak during which he is batting .426 (20-for-47) with seven doubles, a triple, a homer and seven RBIs. Machado is 13-for-26 over his past six games.

Finally, he is now batting .400 this year when he hits with runners in scoring position and is batting .538 when hitting with RISP and two outs.

What is your take on Ripken's take on Machado?

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