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Moving Manny Machado to shortstop elevates Orioles' double-play combo in one ranking

Orioles manager Buck Showalter on Manny Machado moving to shortstop and Tim Beckham moving to third base.

Another byproduct of Manny Machado’s move to shortstop is that the Orioles’ double-play combination can now be considered one of the best in the game.

MLB.com national baseball columnist Anthony Castrovince used Major League Baseball’s “Steamer” projections to illustrate just that Tuesday.

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Taking into account both the system’s offensive and defensive rating projections — combining hitting and base-running metrics, as well as defensive analytics in a formula to determine a player’s overall worth — Castrovince has Machado and second baseman Jonathan Schoop forming the second-best double-play combination in the majors.

Orioles slugger Chris Davis has seen his approach break down in terms of the strike zone and hitting the ball the other way, but hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh said at FanFest that they're deep into the process of fixing that.

Here’s Castrovince’s write-up on the Orioles duo:

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This is an exciting, albeit likely temporary, arrangement up the middle in Baltimore.

There is risk associated with Machado's move, for both player and team. The physical wear and tear of the assimilation to the position could possibly lead to a decline in offensive production, which would hurt Machado's trade and free-agent value.

But for now, I'm giving Machado the benefit of the doubt in these rankings. His Steamer projection has, as of this writing, not been updated to account for the move to short, but there was nothing in his 45-game sample at the position in 2016, while filling in for an injured [J.J.] Hardy, to indicate he can't continue to provide elite defense and production.

And while Schoop isn't a household name like Machado, he has a rising profile, having earned some down-ballot AL MVP Award support after a 2017 season in which he made serious strides in selectivity (his OBP jumped 40 points, to .338) while crossing the 30-homer threshold for the first time.

Machado and Schoop ranked behind only second baseman José Altuve and shortstop Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros on the MLB.com list.

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