I’m a little afraid to toss this question around in the bar today.
I’m afraid some of you may be throwing haymakers if the discussion gets heated. It could turn into a donnybrook or brouhaha if things get ugly.
(Yes, I know it is a fake bar, there will be no physical altercations. But it allowed me to get the words donnybrook and brouhaha into a blog. I’m forever grateful for my imagination).
Anyway, for Tuesday’s paper I wrote a story about Orioles third baseman Manny Machado and his rapid ascension from prospect to one of the best young players in the big leagues.
And I also looked at whether he can be in the conversation as the best young position player in baseball – which previously had been a two-man title shared by outfielders Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels.
They are the reigning rookies of the year in the National League and American League, respectively. They also have more experience than the O’s young phenom. Machado, 20, has played just 89 games as a big leaguer; Harper, 20, has been in 173; Trout, 21, has appeared in 216.
In crunching the numbers, though, Machado’s first 89 games in the majors compares favorably with the previously mentioned duo’s first 89.
In his career (354 at-bats), Machado has 52 runs scored, 22 doubles, 12 homers, 50 RBIs and six steals. He has a career batting average of .294 with a .329 on-base percentage and a .480 slugging percentage.
In Harper’s first 89 games (350 at-bats) as a big leaguer, he had 59 runs scored, 16 doubles, 10 homers, 30 RBIs and 13 stolen bases. His slash line was .251/.331/.411.
In Trout’s first 89 games (321 at-bats), he had 62 runs, 19 doubles, 12 homers, 45 RBIs and 23 stolen bases. His slash line was .293/.357/.483.
So, yeah, they are close.
I asked five big league scouts (none from the Orioles, Nats or Angels) the order in which they would choose the trio if they were building a team today.
Two scouts ranked it as Harper, Trout and Machado; two had it Trout, Machado and Harper and one ranked it Harper, Machado and Trout. One of the scouts said he’d take Boston Red Sox shortstop prospect, 20-year-old Xander Bogaerts third, a spot ahead of Machado.
Other names that were mentioned as being in the conversation included Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton, 23; Pittsburgh’s Starling Marte, 24; and St. Louis’ Oscar Taveras, 20. Although four of the five scouts polled said there is clearly a Big Three (with Machado included).
Both scouts that ranked Machado second and Trout first said they would flip-flop the two if Machado returned to his natural position of shortstop and played it at the same level as he currently plays third.
So take all that in consideration. Then answer my question. And try not to let it end in fisticuffs (another great word).
Daily Think Special: Machado? Harper? Trout? Which one would you choose first to build a team around? Why?