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Comparing Chris Davis, Manny Machado for Most Valuable Oriole; Wei-Yin Chen's market value

Orioles' Chris Davis, right, celebrates his first-inning three-run home run against the Braves with Manny Machado, left, who scored on the homer.
Orioles' Chris Davis, right, celebrates his first-inning three-run home run against the Braves with Manny Machado, left, who scored on the homer. (Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun)

Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, who is this year's recipient of the Louis M. Hatter Most Valuable Oriole Award, acknowledged Friday that he was surprised he won the honor over third baseman Manny Machado.

Davis and Machado were the two obvious front-runners for the award, which was chosen by a vote of local media who cover the club.

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"He's obviously having an unbelievable year," Davis said of Machado. "I thought he was easily going to win. But it's a tribute to the guys in this clubhouse when you have a number of guys who could have won the award. I think Manny's having one of just many great seasons to come. Really, he's a bright star and has such a bright future so I'm proud to say that I won the award over him. I guess there's not really any other way to say it. But he's had a great year."

It would be difficult for a player who could lead the majors in home runs -- his 45 entering Friday night currently top last year's MVO, Nelson Cruz, by one -- but the case could be made that Machado had a better all-around season.

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Davis has enjoyed a strong second half. His 26 homers since the all-star break are the most in the American League, including an AL-best 10 homers in September.

Machado, however, blossomed into a superstar this season at the age of 23.

He became the second player in club history to record a 30-homer, 20-steal season with two homers and two steals in Game 2 of Thursday's doubleheader. It's safe to say he has been more consistent over the course of the season while moving all around the Orioles batting order based on the team's need.

Advanced metrics prove that point. Machado's team-high 6.9 wins above replacement is the sixth-highest in the AL, and that includes a 1.8 defensive WAR despite his 21 errors this season. By comparison, Davis has a 4.6 total WAR this season.

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Orioles manager Buck Showalter said that at least four players -- Davis, Machado, Zach Britton and Darren O'Day -- were deserving of the award.

"Four guys, maybe five," Showalter said. "Four, very close. You could make a case for all four of them very strongly, and I would have. Chris is very deserving of strong consideration, too."

-- Left-hander Wei-Yin Chen could be making his final start as an Oriole in Game 1 of Saturday's doubleheader.

Chen, who becomes a free agent following this season, has been the club's most consistent starter this year, posting a career-best 3.35 ERA and a team-high 19 quality starts in 30 outings this season.

In retrospect, Chen might have been the best multiyear free-agent signing under executive vice president Dan Duquette.

The Taiwanese lefty was signed as an international free agent following four seasons pitching in Japan. He inked a three-year, $11.4 million deal before the 2012 season that included an extremely friendly $4.75 million club option for 2015.

"I expect him to pitch like most of his time here and hopefully will continue to," Showalter said of Chen's last start of the season. "Professionally, he's going to give us a chance to win. Very quietly, he's what? Seventh or eighth in the American League in ERA? Comparatively speaking, he's been very solid all year."

Heading into Friday's games, Chen was tied for seventh in the AL in ERA.

Chen will have given the Orioles at least 185 innings in three of his four years in the majors. And in a free-agent market that doesn't offer many big-ticket left-handed starters beyond David Price, Chen -- a Scott Boras client -- will likely see a significant payday.

Chen's 3.5 WAR this season is tied for 11th among AL starters. Among those pitchers, there are just three pending free agents: Price, Yovani Gallardo and Chen.

"I'm very proud of his health and everything he's been able to maintain," Showalter said. "Every time he's taken the mound for us, I like our chances. He's one of the better acquisitions any team has made in quite a while. He's been very solid for us. Very good evaluation, very good sign. Hopefully, it will continue."

eencina@baltsun.com
twitter.com/EddieInTheYard

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