While the trade rumors and speculation swirls around him and his days in an Orioles uniform are likely numbered, we should take a second to appreciate how good a first-half shortstop Manny Machado has had.
He’s among the American League leaders in several categories and his 2018 first-half far surpasses his 2017 first-half which featured struggles and numbers unlike Machado. But he had a big first-half with the bat and that is going to provide the Orioles a chance to get a bigger haul for him via a trade.
He ranks sixth in the American League in batting average, tied for sixth in homers, tied for fourth in RBIs, five in slugging and fourth in total bases.
Comparing his last two pre All-Star break stats:
2017: .230/.296/.445 with 17 doubles, 18 homers, 47 RBIs and .741 OPS
2018: .315/.387/.575 with 21 doubles, one triple, 24 homers, 65 RBIs and .963 OPS
Machado said during the last homestand that he is using the whole field better this season.
“I haven’t thought about it but just trying to stay consistent with my swing and stay through the ball as long as I can,” he said. “That has been one of the key parts with me and (hitting coach Scott) Coolbaugh this year - we’ve been trying to stay with that. The even plane throughout the zone and trying to keep my bat in the zone as long as possible. To be able to stay back on those offspeed pitches and also react to the heaters inside. You have to use the whole field. If you want to be a great hitter, at the end of the day you have to use the whole field.”
Meanwhile Machado has maintained his strong bat while the rest of the team often struggled to hit and also was losing so much that the Orioles are 41 games under .500 (28-69) and 39 ½ games out of first place.
“I try to go out there and win the game,” Machado said of having individual success while his team floundered. “Try to do whatever I can you know to put ourselves in a good situation as a ballclub. There’s a runner on second base, try to get him over, try to get him in. I will try to make a play to save some runs. Whatever we can do to try and win, at the end of the day that’s the only way you can go out there and stay motivated. If you play the game like that, the game will always reward you in better ways.”
Now Machado heads to the All-Star game where he will start at shortstop tomorrow night for the American League. He will become one of four players to start in the All-Star game at both third base and shortstop. He’ll join join Alex Rodriguez, Arky Vaughan and Cal Ripken, Jr. as the only players to start an All-Star Game at both positions.
Machado knows if he’s traded to a team that wants him to play third base, he’ll go back to the hot corner. He’s also made it clear if and when he gets to free agency that he wants to sign with a team that needs him at short. He does not miss playing at third base.
“No. No,” he said. “I love playing short. I’m more excited playing shortstop than I’ve ever been. I’m more into the game. I’ve been doing everything. Learning the game a lot better, controlling the game. Moving guys around. ‘Hey, come this way, come this way.’ I see what pitches are coming. This is where I always wanted to be. This is what brings the best player out of me.”
Futures Game coverage: In the All-Star Futures Game in Washington Sunday, the USA beat the World team 10-6 and is now 13-7 all-time in the Futures Game, winning eight of the last nine. The Orioles were represented by Double-A Bowie’s Ryan Mountcastle on the USA team. He went 0-for-2 in a reserve role. Single-A Frederick pitcher Alex Wells got two outs with one strikeout for the World team. Click here for pregame coverage from the Futures and click here for the postgame comments from Mountcastle and Wells.