Manny Machado probably couldn’t have asked for a much better start to his first full season in the majors.
In April, the 20-year-old batted .304 with 11 doubles, two home runs and 16 RBIs. His on-base percentage was .344 and his slugging percentage was .470. Outside of one costly error, he was sublime at third base, so much that the folks over at ESPN just named Machado their Defensive Player of the Month for the month of April.
His slick fielding has gotten him the most attention. He has five defensive runs saved and has made 13 “out of zone” plays -- both tied for the most among major-league third basemen, according to ESPN. No player in baseball made more appearances (six) in the popular “Web Gems” segment on “Baseball Tonight” in April.
Everyone has been raving about the mitt maestro that is Machado, from Orioles manager Buck Showalter and teammates to scouts, players, managers and executives from other big-league teams.
Is it too soon to start talking about the All-Star Game?
Admittedly, I hadn’t given it any thought whatsoever before I got this question for this week’s edition of Right Back @ You.
And now that I am thinking about it and writing about it, Machado should absolutely be considered for a spot on the American League All-Star roster if he keeps playing like he did in April.
(Machado is already off to a good start in May, having gone 2-for-2 with a homer in Wednesday night’s loss to the Seattle Mariners. In the process, he extended his hitting streak to 10 games.)
His batting average (.311) is sixth among big-league third baseman. He leads his third-base peers in doubles (12). He is sixth in slugging (.504), seventh in RBIs (17) and tied for 13th in homers (three).
And his defense has been about as good as it can get.
Last season, the Midsummer Classic was more of a young man's All-Star Game than it had ever been. According to Elias Sports Bureau, 19 of last year's All-Star selections were 25 or younger.
If Machado made it in 2013, he would be the second-youngest player in Orioles history to play in an All-Star Game (Jerry Walker was 20 years and 172 days old when he did it way back in 1959). His 21st birthday, which is July 6, will be 10 days before this year’s All-Star Game.
Of course, July is still a couple of months away, so maybe I was right to not be thinking about the All-Star Game before today. There is a lot of baseball left to be played before the teams are picked.
But given the start that Machado has gotten off to and the fact that he is probably just scratching the surface of the player he is capable of becoming, why not keep an eye on what Machado and the rest of the American League’s third basemen are up to?
After all, as Bryce Harper and Mike Trout showed us last season, young stars can be ready to shine even earlier than first hoped.