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Friday, September 20, 2013

J.R. Gamble: Manny Machado Is The Best Defensive Third Baseman of All-Time

Machado: Generation of ‘98. (1898 that is or something)

When Manny Machado’s Hall of Fame career is done, baseball historians will reflect on the Baltimore Orioles third baseman’s impact. They’ll discuss the effects of his effortless, clutch leadership and bicker about his props as a hitter, and ranking as an all-time Oriole. They’ll all agree, however, that defensively he’s the best hot corner-henchman in MLB history.

...It’s also important to remember that there are fewer third basemen in the Hall of Fame than any other position, so plays of that caliber are rare.

Machado can do it all. It’s not like he is Greg Nettles with a stupendous glove game and a .248 career batting average. He’s batting a solid .289 with 14 dingers and a league-high 51 doubles. Those aren’t Mike Schmidt power numbers, but he’s only improving and is expected to become a 30-homer guy. It’s the glove love, however, that allows him to calmly laugh in the face of the MLB ghosts he’s chasing.

...That’s the short list of third basemen whose defensive presence was comparable to Machado’s. Of course, I’m totally discounting dudes like Jimmy Collins (credited with revolutionizing third base with his quickness), who played prior to Jackie Robinson’s arrival. The game moves faster now, the players are bigger, but the size of the diamond has remained the same, so I’d say modern-era fielders have it much rougher.

Baseball purists and cats over 45 are giving me the screw face as they read this. To call Machado “the best ever” with the glove after less than two full MLB seasons is bold, but his highlight reel is comparable to any of the greats and he has a game even the sabermetrics freaks can’t discredit.

According to fangraphs.com, Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) is a widely-used defensive statistic which puts a run value to defense, attempting to quantify how many runs a player saved or gave up through fielding ability (or lack thereof). With just under a month left in the season, Machado was sporting a 26.8 UZR, the highest number since the stat came out in 2002.

Repoz Posted: September 20, 2013 at 05:39 AM | 65 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: orioles, sabermetrics

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   1. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: September 20, 2013 at 06:28 AM (#4545985)
Yes. And Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw are all-time legends. Just look at their rate numbers!

Let's allow the kid to have a decline phase before we crown his ass.
   2. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 20, 2013 at 07:07 AM (#4545986)
Machado can do it all. It’s not like he is Greg Nettles with a stupendous glove game and a .248 career batting average.

Nettles' career OPS+ of 110 is higher than Machado's career high.

(Machado's young enough to improve on his career high by a good amount, of course, but come on.)
   3. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: September 20, 2013 at 07:12 AM (#4545988)
Baseball purists and cats over 45 are giving me the screw face as they read this.

Well, sure, those people have brains. Theoretically, at least.
   4. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 20, 2013 at 07:47 AM (#4545992)
Yes. And Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw are all-time legends. Just look at their rate numbers!

As long as you're using that argument to ignore what your own eyes can see every night and day if you watch the Orioles, don't forget Mike Trout, who for all we know could wind up in a junkyard like Fred Lynn.

The point is that if Machado dropped dead tomorrow, he'd already have taken his position to a new skill level with his combination of first step reflexes, athleticism and arm strength. The fact that he's only been doing this for a bit over a year is utterly irrelevant, since this isn't an argument about career value or the Hall of Fame, it's about what he's been doing since the first day he stepped onto a Major League diamond.
   5. AndrewJ Posted: September 20, 2013 at 07:51 AM (#4545994)
Known as the greatest slugging third baseman of his generation, Schmidt is a Top 100 all-around player


Try top 25. Maybe top 20.
   6. Rants Mulliniks Posted: September 20, 2013 at 07:58 AM (#4545998)
I know I've said this before, but Brett Lawrie is every bit as good as Machado, if not better. He's the first 3b I've ever seen who is so quick he can take 4 steps before diving to snag a hard hit ball.

http://wapc.mlb.com/play/?content_id=30694461&c_id=mlb

Lawrie makes plays like this on a regular basis, to both directions, and is also one of the best I've seen at charging and bare handing bunts and choppers. I watched John McDonald and Scott Rolen a lot with the Jays, and neither one of them is the fielder Lawrie is. Rolen probably had a more accurate arm, but Lawrie's range is superior and he has a quicker release. Lawrie is undoubtedly the best defensive infielder in Blue Jays history.
   7. I Am Not a Number Posted: September 20, 2013 at 08:10 AM (#4546003)
JR Gamble's next good piece of writing will be his first.
   8. Random Transaction Generator Posted: September 20, 2013 at 08:29 AM (#4546015)
I agree with #6.
He's making the same plays that Machado makes, and is getting half the press.
Also, I think his sternum is made of flubber because I've never seen a player make a diving catch and bounce up to his feet so damn quick.
   9. Lassus Posted: September 20, 2013 at 08:34 AM (#4546020)
If you cannot be bothered to spell Nettles' name right, I cannot be bothered to trust your conclusions.

Maybe that's harsh, but even so.
   10. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: September 20, 2013 at 08:38 AM (#4546022)
The fact that he's only been doing this for a bit over a year is utterly irrelevant, since this isn't an argument about career value or the Hall of Fame, it's about what he's been doing since the first day he stepped onto a Major League diamond.
If that is indeed the argument, Gamble shouldn't have framed it as "fifteen years from now, when Machado retires, he'll be thought of as the greatest defensive third baseman in history." He's had a fabulous 203 games. He's done things I've never seen anybody else do, and that I didn't expect to see anybody do, ever. I expect that he'll keep doing so.

But I need more than 203 games to agree that 2000 games from now, he'll be a legend. He may end up as a guy who had an amazing few seasons, then screwed up his shoulder or ankle or caught Steve Sax disease and had to move to left field. The chances of that happening are remote, but they're extant enough that I'm uncomfortable crowning a 20-year-old as the "best defensive third baseman of all time".
   11. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: September 20, 2013 at 08:42 AM (#4546026)
Try top 25. Maybe top 20.
#13 according to the BBRef ELO rater, but keep in mind that the BBRef ELO rater has Barry Bonds being substantially worse than Maury Wills and Zack Wheat being better than Alex Rodriguez. (And Luis Aparicio being about the same as Hank Greenberg.)

Edit to add:...and Kosuke Fukudome worse than Willie Bloomquist?!?
   12. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: September 20, 2013 at 08:50 AM (#4546033)
Machado is a remarkable defensive player. I think #6 is right that Lawrie is pretty freakin' amazing though. Beyond that I think career value is somewhat meaningful. Part of what made guys like Nettles, Robinson and Schmidt such great defensive players is that they did it for 15-20 years. Right now Machado is at best the defensive Roger Maris and that assumes he truly is the best which is not a certainty.

Having said that I was talking to an Oriole fan at the Oriole/Red Sox game last night and telling him that one reason to want the O's in the post-season is to get to watch Machado. He is already one of my favorite players in the league to watch.
   13. bobm Posted: September 20, 2013 at 08:59 AM (#4546038)
From 1901 to 2013, From 1st season to 2nd season, Played 50% of games at 3B, (requiring At least 200 games), sorted by greatest Defensive WAR

                                              
Rk             Player dWAR   G From   To   Age
1       Manny Machado  5.0 203 2012 2013 19-20
2       Lee Tannehill  4.2 291 1903 1904 22-23
3       Evan Longoria  3.4 279 2008 2009 22-23
4     Terry Pendleton  3.2 216 1984 1985 23-24
5          Art Devlin  3.1 283 1904 1905 24-25
6         Willie Kamm  2.5 297 1923 1924 23-24
7          Wade Boggs  2.4 257 1982 1983 24-25
8          Buddy Bell  2.3 288 1972 1973 20-21
9        John Castino  2.2 298 1979 1980 24-25
10     Mike Moustakas  2.2 238 2011 2012 22-23
11      Gil McDougald  2.1 283 1951 1952 23-24
12           Don Wert  2.0 226 1963 1964 24-25
13      Chuck Dressen  2.0 203 1925 1926 30-31
14        Rube Lutzke  2.0 250 1923 1924 25-26
15      Billy Johnson  1.9 240 1943 1946 24-27
16      Tex Wisterzil  1.8 242 1914 1915 26-27
17         Chris Sabo  1.7 219 1988 1989 26-27
18          Ken Boyer  1.6 297 1955 1956 24-25
19       Tom Brookens  1.6 211 1979 1980 25-26
20        Bobby Byrne  1.5 276 1907 1908 22-23
21      Adrian Beltre  1.5 229 1998 1999 19-20
22         Ed Charles  1.4 305 1962 1963 29-30
23     Steve Buechele  1.3 222 1985 1986 23-24
24      Travis Fryman  1.3 215 1990 1991 21-22
25        Eddie Kasko  1.2 238 1957 1958 25-26
Rk             Player dWAR   G From   To   Age
26       Jimmy Austin  1.2 269 1909 1910 29-30
27       Art Scharein  1.1 204 1932 1933 27-28
28      Shane Andrews  1.1 211 1995 1996 23-24
29          Pinky May  1.0 271 1939 1940 28-29
30   Shea Hillenbrand  0.9 295 2001 2002 25-26
31         Kevin Orie  0.8 226 1997 1998 24-25
32      Jim Davenport  0.8 257 1958 1959 24-25
33      Wayne Garrett  0.7 238 1969 1970 21-22
34        Steve Braun  0.7 249 1971 1972 23-24
35       Felix Torres  0.6 265 1962 1963 30-31
36       Tony Boeckel  0.6 204 1917 1919 24-26
37      Johnny Vergez  0.5 270 1931 1932 24-25
38          Andy High  0.5 276 1922 1923 24-25
39      Pinky Whitney  0.5 305 1928 1929 23-24
40         Troy Glaus  0.4 202 1998 1999 21-22
41      Carlos Baerga  0.4 266 1990 1991 21-22
42          Bobby Cox  0.4 220 1968 1969 27-28
43     Tommy Glaviano  0.4 202 1949 1950 25-26
44        Goldie Rapp  0.4 229 1921 1922 27-28
45        Alex Gordon  0.4 285 2007 2008 23-24
46          Jeff King  0.3 202 1989 1990 24-25
47       Hector Lopez  0.3 279 1955 1956 25-26
48     Danny OConnell  0.3 228 1950 1953 21-24
49   Urbane Pickering  0.3 235 1931 1932 32-33
50         Fred Smith  0.3 237 1913 1914 21-22
Rk             Player dWAR   G From   To   Age
51       Al Gallagher  0.3 245 1970 1971 24-25
52        Kyle Seager  0.0 208 2011 2012 23-24
53     Fernando Tatis  0.0 210 1997 1998 22-23
54    Mike Pagliarulo -0.1 205 1984 1985 24-25
55          Marv Owen -0.1 243 1931 1933 25-27
56       Fritz Maisel -0.1 201 1913 1914 23-24
57         Doug Baird -0.2 273 1915 1916 23-24
58    Carney Lansford -0.2 278 1978 1979 21-22
59       David Wright -0.4 229 2004 2005 21-22
60            Joe Foy -0.4 281 1966 1967 23-24
61         Coco Laboy -0.4 294 1969 1970 28-29
62     Sean Burroughs -0.5 209 2002 2003 21-22
63      Eddie Mathews -0.5 302 1952 1953 20-21
64        Jim Finigan -0.5 286 1954 1955 25-26
65    Nanny Fernandez -0.5 260 1942 1946 23-27
66        Eric Hinske -0.5 275 2002 2003 24-25
67      Bob Dillinger -0.5 220 1946 1947 27-28
68        Jack Lohrke -0.6 210 1947 1948 23-24
69     Danny Valencia -0.6 239 2010 2011 25-26
70        Jim Presley -0.6 225 1984 1985 22-23
71      Harlond Clift -0.7 284 1934 1935 21-22
72         Syd OBrien -0.7 221 1969 1970 25-26
73         Pete Suder -0.8 267 1941 1942 25-26
74        Tom OMalley -0.9 227 1982 1983 21-22
75       Dave Roberts -1.0 227 1972 1973 21-22
Rk             Player dWAR   G From   To   Age
76       Grady Hatton -1.1 262 1946 1947 23-24
77          Mike Lamb -1.1 214 2000 2001 24-25
78      Mark Reynolds -1.2 263 2007 2008 23-24
79         Bob Horner -1.4 210 1978 1979 20-21
80       Dan Driessen -1.4 252 1973 1974 21-22
81          Ron Santo -1.6 249 1960 1961 20-21
82        Mark Teahen -1.7 239 2005 2006 23-24
83        Hunter Hill -1.7 221 1903 1904 24-25
84      Ray Jablonski -1.7 309 1953 1954 26-27
85       Ty Wigginton -1.9 202 2002 2003 24-25


   14. Dale Sams Posted: September 20, 2013 at 09:12 AM (#4546047)
I *think* ARod's contract will be almost over when the Yanks snatch up Machado.
   15. t ball Posted: September 20, 2013 at 09:13 AM (#4546048)
I agree that Lawrie is good, but Machado just turned 21, 2 1/2 years younger than Lawrie, that counts for something.
   16. DKDC Posted: September 20, 2013 at 09:16 AM (#4546052)
Machado is a fantastic defensive third baseman, and I think it’s pretty obvious he has to do this for another decade to even be in the conversation for best ever.

Plus, I also have some nagging doubts about whether his defensive statistics are skewed for some reason, because the numbers he is putting up (see #13) are almost unbelievable. The average 3B in this league is pretty good, so Manny’s defensive stats suggest that he is basically perfect: that he makes every routine play, he gets to tons of other balls that other 3B don’t get to, every throw is a perfect bullet.

But he doesn’t, particularly of late. Manny has defensive lapses, bad first steps, bad throws, fumbles.

So what could potentially be skewing those numbers?

The Orioles shift more than any team, with Manny often lining up in short right field or straight up the middle. Are those being properly adjusted for?

JJ Hardy is a great defensive SS, does his range allow Manny to play close to the line and make plays that no other 3B would have a shot at? Would his numbers suffer with a lesser SS to his left?

Is there something about the O’s pitching that causes them to produce a certain type of ground ball that is easier to field more than other pitching staffs?
   17. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 20, 2013 at 09:19 AM (#4546055)
Note also that dWAR is a counting stat, and of the players on that list in #13, Machado's 203 games puts him well below nearly every other player on it. If you re-sorted the rankings on a PG basis, his dominance would be even more striking.
   18. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: September 20, 2013 at 09:22 AM (#4546061)
43 Tommy Glaviano 0.4 202 1949 1950 25-26

And then he became one of the very best starting pitchers in baseball for a couple decades.
   19. bobm Posted: September 20, 2013 at 09:22 AM (#4546064)
First 4 seasons:

                                          
Player            dWAR From   To   Age   G
Brooks Robinson    1.0 1955 1958 18-21 216
   20. bobm Posted: September 20, 2013 at 09:28 AM (#4546066)
For single seasons, From 1901 to 2013, Played 50% of games at 3B, sorted by greatest Defensive WAR

                                                                
Rk              Player dWAR Year Age  Tm Lg   G  PA   OPS    Pos
1      Brooks Robinson  4.5 1968  31 BAL AL 162 667  .720     *5
2        Manny Machado  4.2 2013  20 BAL AL 152 690  .750     *5
3      Brooks Robinson  4.2 1967  30 BAL AL 158 681  .763     *5
4        Graig Nettles  3.9 1971  26 CLE AL 158 690  .785     *5
5           Buddy Bell  3.7 1979  27 TEX AL 162 720  .778    *56
6        Graig Nettles  3.6 1976  31 NYY AL 158 657  .802  *5/H6
7    Aurelio Rodriguez  3.6 1970  22 TOT AL 159 663  .721   *5/6
8        Nolan Arenado  3.5 2013  22 COL NL 125 485  .708   *5/H
9        Robin Ventura  3.4 1998  30 CHW AL 161 674  .785     *5
10         Clete Boyer  3.4 1961  24 NYY AL 148 579  .656    *56
11         Scott Rolen  3.3 2004  29 STL NL 142 593 1.007     *5
12          Buddy Bell  3.3 1981  29 TEX AL  97 415  .792  *5/H6
13       Lee Tannehill  3.3 1904  23 CHW AL 153 586  .563     *5
14       Chone Figgins  3.2 2009  31 LAA AL 158 729  .789 *5/4D7
15         Clete Boyer  3.2 1962  25 NYY AL 158 633  .745   *5/H
16       Adrian Beltre  3.1 2008  29 SEA AL 143 612  .784  *5/DH
17        Hank Blalock  3.0 2003  22 TEX AL 143 615  .872  *5/H4
18     Terry Pendleton  2.9 1985  24 STL NL 149 602  .591   *5/H
19         Tim Wallach  2.9 1985  27 MON NL 155 617  .759   *5/H
20     Brooks Robinson  2.9 1969  32 BAL AL 156 670  .693     *5
21       Adrian Beltre  2.8 2003  24 LAD NL 158 608  .714  *5/H6
22       Robin Ventura  2.8 1999  31 NYM NL 161 671  .908  *5/H3
23        Ken Caminiti  2.8 1989  26 HOU NL 161 646  .685   *5/H
24     Brooks Robinson  2.8 1971  34 BAL AL 156 663  .754     *5
25       Lee Tannehill  2.8 1905  24 CHW AL 142 549  .518     *5
   21. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: September 20, 2013 at 09:29 AM (#4546067)
Going strictly by the numbers, I think it's fair to say that Machado's 2013 is one of the greatest defensive seasons in history. Whether those numbers are skewed somehow and whether he can sustain that level are open questions, of course.

Edit: Dammit...Bob beat me by a few seconds.
   22. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 20, 2013 at 09:31 AM (#4546069)
Machado is a fantastic defensive third baseman, and I think it’s pretty obvious he has to do this for another decade to even be in the conversation for best ever.

That's a fair point, as career value and peak value are two distinct propositions. I've been talking about the Machado of today, not the Machado of 2023.

About the Orioles' overall defense: I know that nobody around here pays any attention to commentary from former players**, but Jim Palmer spent his career backed by the the likes of Brooks, Belanger, Grich, and Blair, and he's repeatedly said that this team's defense is superior to the ones of his day. Obviously they don't have a Machado at every position, but OTOH there's not a single position where they're not at least average or better, and in some cases well above it.


**Unless they say "Sure, I would've used steroids if I'd had the opportunity!" Then the genuflecting commences.
   23. zack Posted: September 20, 2013 at 09:33 AM (#4546074)
We know that defense is a young man's game. Does that mean we're overrating Machado because we're comparing him to older players, or does that mean it's fair to crown him now, because he's just going to get worse?
   24. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 20, 2013 at 09:36 AM (#4546077)
#19 and #20 confirm what I discovered a few days ago when I looked up Brooks: His best years were when he was in his early 30's. Defense is a young man's game, but 30 doesn't have to be "old."
   25. bobm Posted: September 20, 2013 at 09:38 AM (#4546079)
[17] Re-sorted by rate, with top 10, median, bottom (Rk is original sort rank by dWAR)

Rk             Player dWAR   G dWAR/100 G
 1      Manny Machado  5.0 203  2.46 
 4    Terry Pendleton  3.2 216  1.48 
 2      Lee Tannehill  4.2 291  1.44 
 3      Evan Longoria  3.4 279  1.22 
 5         Art Devlin  3.1 283  1.10 
13      Chuck Dressen  2.0 203  0.99 
 7         Wade Boggs  2.4 257  0.93 
10     Mike Moustakas  2.2 238  0.92 
12           Don Wert  2.0 226  0.88 
 6        Willie Kamm  2.5 297  0.84 
[...]
38          Andy High  0.5 276  0.18 
[...]
85       Ty Wigginton -1.9 202 -0.94

   26. bobm Posted: September 20, 2013 at 09:43 AM (#4546082)
Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1901 to 2013, From Age 30 to 99, Played 50% of games at 3B, sorted by greatest Defensive WAR

                                              
Rk            Player dWAR From   To   Age    G
1    Brooks Robinson 25.0 1967 1977 30-40 1490
2        Scott Rolen 10.4 2005 2012 30-37  843
3      Robin Ventura  8.3 1998 2004 30-36  986
4      Graig Nettles  8.2 1975 1988 30-43 1799
5      Jimmy Collins  8.0 1901 1908 31-38  955
6        Gary Gaetti  7.6 1989 2000 30-41 1430
7      Adrian Beltre  7.3 2009 2013 30-34  695
8      Larry Gardner  6.8 1916 1924 30-38 1094
9        Pedro Feliz  6.5 2005 2010 30-35  894
10      Brandon Inge  6.4 2007 2013 30-36  804
11      Terry Turner  6.3 1911 1919 30-38  841
12        Wade Boggs  6.2 1988 1999 30-41 1568
13       Clete Boyer  5.7 1967 1971 30-34  533
14        Buddy Bell  5.4 1982 1989 30-37 1030
15        David Bell  5.3 2003 2006 30-33  523
16      Mike Schmidt  5.2 1980 1989 30-39 1320
17    Vinny Castilla  5.1 1998 2006 30-38 1218
18    Home Run Baker  5.0 1916 1922 30-36  676
19      Ossie Bluege  4.8 1931 1939 30-38  848
20         Bob Jones  4.5 1920 1925 30-35  606
21         Doc Casey  4.4 1901 1907 31-37  942
22      Jeff Cirillo  4.3 2000 2007 30-37  828
23      Jimmy Austin  4.3 1910 1929 30-49 1445
24       Phil Garner  4.2 1979 1988 30-39 1195
25      Eddie Foster  4.2 1917 1923 30-36  741
26     Scott Brosius  4.2 1997 2001 30-34  669

   27. bobm Posted: September 20, 2013 at 09:45 AM (#4546087)
[26] Top 26 3B by dWAR Age 30+, sorted by dWAR/100 G (Rank is dWAR sort)

Rk          Player dWAR/100 G
 1 Brooks Robinson  1.68 
 2     Scott Rolen  1.23 
13     Clete Boyer  1.07 
 7   Adrian Beltre  1.05 
15      David Bell  1.01 
 3   Robin Ventura  0.84 
 5   Jimmy Collins  0.84 
10    Brandon Inge  0.80 
11    Terry Turner  0.75 
20       Bob Jones  0.74 
18  Home Run Baker  0.74 
 9     Pedro Feliz  0.73 
26   Scott Brosius  0.63 
 8   Larry Gardner  0.62 
25    Eddie Foster  0.57 
19    Ossie Bluege  0.57 
 6     Gary Gaetti  0.53 
14      Buddy Bell  0.52 
22    Jeff Cirillo  0.52 
21       Doc Casey  0.47 
 4   Graig Nettles  0.46 
17  Vinny Castilla  0.42 
12      Wade Boggs  0.40 
16    Mike Schmidt  0.39 
24     Phil Garner  0.35 
23    Jimmy Austin  0.30 
   28. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 20, 2013 at 09:46 AM (#4546089)
Thanks, bobm. Is there any particular reason that Lawrie's not anywhere to be found on those lists?

Most eyepopping name to those who remember him only as an Ancient Mariner Dodgers manager: Chuck Dressen.
   29. jmurph Posted: September 20, 2013 at 09:50 AM (#4546092)
BBRef has Machado at 474 chances in 152 games this year for a 4.2 dWAR. So in a little more than 3 chances per game, he's contributed 4+ wins, just on defense? I apparently do not understand dWAR.
   30. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: September 20, 2013 at 09:53 AM (#4546101)
We know that defense is a young man's game. Does that mean we're overrating Machado because we're comparing him to older players, or does that mean it's fair to crown him now, because he's just going to get worse?


Would third base be a position where knowledge and experience would compensate for a loss of speed and reflexes? Robinson had a strong late career, Mike Lowell was excellent in his mid-30s, Boggs seemed to consistently improve just to name a few. Obviously there is a point where the physical tools are no longer there but I'm just kind of tossing it out there that corner positions might benefit more from experience while up the middle positions need the physical attributes more.
   31. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: September 20, 2013 at 09:56 AM (#4546105)
I know I've said this before, but Brett Lawrie is every bit as good as Machado, if not better. He's the first 3b I've ever seen who is so quick he can take 4 steps before diving to snag a hard hit ball.


good play, but

1: It wasn't that hard hit
2: Those announcers are idiots- one says that ball was headed to left, the other says "what range," Louwrie was almost in straightaway short stop.

If Lowrie doesn't get the ball Reyes does easily- but he might not have made the play because he was deep in the hole and see 1- the ball wasn't that hard hit, anyway, that ball was never getting out of the infield
   32. Sean Forman Posted: September 20, 2013 at 10:06 AM (#4546122)
Re: Shifts. Shift plays are tossed out of the equation, so the issue we had last year of Lawrie getting super credit for his deep RF plays is gone now.

Re: dWAR. It contains both their defensive runs saved and their positional adjustment. So if they are both 3B is doesn't matter, but an avg SS will rank even with an above avg 3Bman.

Re: historical comparisons. Given how tzr is computed (and possible teammate effects) it probably tamps down the the variability of performance somewhat compared to DRS. For apples to apples you should compare old guys to the modern player's TZR.

Re: Machado, it's pretty clear he could/should? play SS. I wonder what it would look like if you had a top defensive SS play 3B? Machado might be that guy.


Re: age. I should look at this but haven't, but I'm guessing most fielders peak pretty early around 23-24.

Here are all 3Bmen (w 100+ chances this year) by DRS.

Rk                      Age  Tm   G    Inn  Ch FldRtot Rdrs RF/9
1          MannyMachado  20 BAL 152 1350.2 474 .973   32   34 3.07
2          NolanArenado  22 COL 123 1048.0 392 .972   11   30 3.27
3             JuanUribe  33 LAD 117  850.0 277 .982   20   14 2.88
4          EvanLongoria  27 TBR 136 1190.0 363 .975   12   13 2.68
5         JoshDonaldson  27 OAK 148 1315.0 401 .960    7   11 2.63
6           JeffBianchi  26 MIL  42  263.1 115 .965   12   11 3.79
7         MattDominguez  23 HOU 141 1243.1 412 .966    3   10 2.88
8           BrettLawrie  23 TOR  93  803.2 243 .963   
-8    8 2.62
9           ToddFrazier  27 CIN 139 1187.2 318 .975   10    7 2.35
10             LuisCruz  29 TOT  41  276.1 111 .973    8    6 3.52
11          DavidWright  30 NYM 104  948.0 311 .971    0    5 2.87
12         LuisValbuena  27 CHC  91  735.2 206 .971    4    5 2.45
13         ChaseHeadley  29 SDP 131 1151.0 325 .966    7    4 2.46
14          LuisJimenez  25 LAA  29  247.0 109 .963    5    4 3.83
15              EdLucas  31 MIA  58  455.2 145 .959    4    3 2.75
16          MartinPrado  29 ARI 108  840.1 255 .980    3    1 2.68
17       PlacidoPolanco  37 MIA 105  813.2 195 .990   
-1    1 2.13
18           CodyRansom  37 TOT  46  363.0 117 .940    2    1 2.73
19         PedroAlvarez  26 PIT 141 1251.1 428 .937    7    0 2.88
20     LonnieChisenhall  24 CLE  86  682.0 198 .949    2    0 2.48
21   YunieskyBetancourt  31 MIL  53  365.1 109 .936   
-1    0 2.51
22        MikeMoustakas  24 KCR 126 1056.2 315 .956   
-4   -1 2.56
23        TrevorPlouffe  27 MIN 111  965.2 278 .957  
-10   -1 2.48
24        PabloSandoval  26 SFG 129 1089.0 283 .943   
-8   -3 2.21
25          ChrisNelson  27 TOT  57  481.0 120 .950   
-1   -3 2.13
26         JameyCarroll  39 TOT  46  340.1 100 .980   
-3   -3 2.59
27        RyanZimmerman  28 WSN 133 1176.2 359 .942  
-19   -4 2.59
28         AdrianBeltre  34 TEX 135 1194.0 314 .959    2   
-5 2.27
29      AlbertoCallaspo  30 TOT  90  749.0 224 .942   
-2   -5 2.54
30            CodyAsche  23 PHI  36  326.0 104 .962    3   
-5 2.76
31         MarkReynolds  29 TOT  52  407.2 100 .930   
-7   -5 2.05
32         ChrisJohnson  28 ATL 117  962.2 268 .951    7   
-6 2.38
33       ConorGillaspie  25 CHW 108  899.2 266 .940  
-11   -6 2.50
34     WillMiddlebrooks  24 BOS  85  737.2 197 .954   
-4   -7 2.29
35           KyleSeager  25 SEA 151 1346.1 399 .965   
-3   -9 2.57
36           EricChavez  35 ARI  52  429.1 135 .993    0  
-10 2.81
37          DavidFreese  30 STL 125  996.2 243 .959   
-6  -12 2.10
38        AramisRamirez  35 MIL  75  618.1 146 .952   
-8  -13 2.02
39        MiguelCabrera  30 DET 138 1181.2 271 .956  
-16  -18 1.97
40         MichaelYoung  36 TOT 104  879.0 239 .958  
-16  -20 2.34 


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/20/2013.
   33. Rants Mulliniks Posted: September 20, 2013 at 10:06 AM (#4546123)
Johnny - yes the announcers are idiots, its Pat Tabler and Buck Martinez. That was just the most recent Lawrie play, from the game two nights ago. The thing is, he does this practically every game. It would have been an infield single if Lawrie hadn't gotten to it.
   34. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: September 20, 2013 at 10:10 AM (#4546130)
Jeff Bianchi is the best defensive third baseman of all time.
   35. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 20, 2013 at 10:13 AM (#4546138)
Would third base be a position where knowledge and experience would compensate for a loss of speed and reflexes? Robinson had a strong late career, Mike Lowell was excellent in his mid-30s, Boggs seemed to consistently improve just to name a few. Obviously there is a point where the physical tools are no longer there but I'm just kind of tossing it out there that corner positions might benefit more from experience while up the middle positions need the physical attributes more.

I can't figure out how to post those lists without running all over the page, but 4 of Cal Ripken's 5 biggest dWAR numbers (at shortstop, of course) came between the age of 28 and 34. From everything I've heard and read, he was helped a lot by his encyclopedic knowledge of the art of positioning.
   36. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 20, 2013 at 10:17 AM (#4546142)
Re: age. I should look at this but haven't, but I'm guessing most fielders peak pretty early around 23-24.

Sean, the numbers in #20 don't seem to back you up on this, unless you're excluding most of the best fielders from consideration.
   37. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: September 20, 2013 at 10:23 AM (#4546148)
4 of Cal Ripken's 5 biggest dWAR numbers (at shortstop, of course) came between the age of 28 and 34. From everything I've heard and read, he was helped a lot by his encyclopedic knowledge of the art of positioning.
Yeah, I was going to say that - and I genuinely have no hypothesis on when a fielder's abilities peak - Ripken seems like a guy who's fairly likely to be abnormal, in that his fielding excellence was more based on positioning than it was on freakish athletic prowess.
   38. Nasty Nate Posted: September 20, 2013 at 10:23 AM (#4546149)
Is there a chance they trade Hardy this offseason and move Machado over?
   39. Tom Nawrocki Posted: September 20, 2013 at 10:28 AM (#4546156)
1 MannyMachado 20 BAL 152 1350.2 474 .973 32 34 3.07
2 NolanArenado 22 COL 123 1048.0 392 .972 11 30 3.27


Arenado has shown up on only a few of these lists, but he's been every bit as good as Machado. Arenado didn't get called up till the end of April, so he's played a lot fewer games, but his dWAR/game is exactly the same as Machado's.
   40. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: September 20, 2013 at 10:39 AM (#4546170)
Is there a chance they trade Hardy this offseason and move Machado over?


Do they have someone that could take over at third? I don't know the Orioles' system at all other than Bundy and Gaussman but I don't get the impression they have anyone being blocked. Hardy/Machado is a pretty good left side on both sides of the ball. If I were Duquette I wouldn't be in any rush to break it up unless the return for Hardy was really good. With one year left on his deal I don't think they'd get the benefit to make it worthwhile. I think I'd rather stick with them and go for it in 2014 (not suggesting they are done in 2013).
   41. DJS Thinks Apples and Oranges are Similar Posted: September 20, 2013 at 10:41 AM (#4546174)
Machado's so good defensively at 3rd that one might think he's actually a shortstop playing out of his normal position!
   42. Bruce Markusen Posted: September 20, 2013 at 10:45 AM (#4546181)
I agree with Lassus; if you can't spell Nettles' first name right, and don't even come close to spelling it correctly, your article has little credibility.

That said, Machado is fantastic with the glove. If he can keep it going for, let's say, 15 years, then he may be the successor to Brooks as the greatest fielding third baseman ever.
   43. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: September 20, 2013 at 10:51 AM (#4546190)
Do they have someone that could take over at third?
Zelous Wheeler appears to be the Orioles' semi-regular AAA third baseman. He's 26 years old and not really a prospect, but he gets on base, has moderate power, can play three infield positions, and has a spectacular first name.

Also, Brandon Wood!
   44. Nasty Nate Posted: September 20, 2013 at 10:53 AM (#4546192)
With one year left on his deal I don't think they'd get the benefit to make it worthwhile. I think I'd rather stick with them and go for it in 2014 (not suggesting they are done in 2013).


This makes sense. But for every year that passes it gets harder to move a player back, even if the reasons aren't always logical.
   45. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 20, 2013 at 11:36 AM (#4546254)
That said, Machado is fantastic with the glove. If he can keep it going for, let's say, 15 years, then he may be the successor to Brooks as the greatest fielding third baseman ever.

I know that dWAR isn't the most precise tool in the kit, but if Machado can keep up his 2013 level of performance (4.5 dWAR/162) for 15 years, his dWAR alone would put his overall career WAR above many HoFers, such as Duke Snider, Andre Dawson, Willie McCovey, Bob Feller, and others too numerous to mention. The only real flaw in his game right now is his lack of plate discipline, especially on pitches that break low and away, but given that he's just turned 21 there's a chance we might see some improvement in that category.
   46. Qufini Posted: September 20, 2013 at 11:58 AM (#4546289)
Do they have someone that could take over at third? I don't know the Orioles' system at all other than Bundy and Gaussman but I don't get the impression they have anyone being blocked. Hardy/Machado is a pretty good left side on both sides of the ball. If I were Duquette I wouldn't be in any rush to break it up unless the return for Hardy was really good. With one year left on his deal I don't think they'd get the benefit to make it worthwhile. I think I'd rather stick with them and go for it in 2014 (not suggesting they are done in 2013).



The Orioles have two infielders in-system that they're high on: Jonathan Schoop and Nicky Delmonico. However, Schoop is probably heading toward 2B. That's where he played for the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the WBC this year and he should get at shot at that position next spring. Delmonico's at least two years away and right now his upside looks more like decent everyday player than star. It wouldn't be worth trading Hardy to make room for him.
   47. Oscar Geronimo Posted: September 20, 2013 at 12:08 PM (#4546305)
Zelous Wheeler appears to be the Orioles' semi-regular AAA third baseman. He's 26 years old and not really a prospect, but he gets on base, has moderate power, can play three infield positions, and has a spectacular first name.

That IS a spectacular name. But is it real?
   48. PreservedFish Posted: September 20, 2013 at 12:13 PM (#4546315)
We're talking Nicky... Zelous and the Schoop.
   49. Morty Causa Posted: September 20, 2013 at 12:15 PM (#4546321)
Well, all that assumes curves for offense as well as defense. This all really absurdly premature.

Is Machado any better than Arenado, given that he's had more playing time?

EDIT: Oops. Concession bow to #39.
   50. DL from MN Posted: September 20, 2013 at 12:24 PM (#4546328)
Shift plays are tossed out of the equation


Doesn't that hurt players who play for a team that shifts often?

We are probably in the era where our knowledge of defensive stats is completely screwing up our defensive stats.
   51. Athletic Supporter is USDA certified lean Posted: September 20, 2013 at 12:45 PM (#4546354)
I agree with Lassus; if you can't spell Nettles' first name right, and don't even come close to spelling it correctly, your article has little credibility.


Listen, just because Nettles' parents spelled his name wrong doesn't mean we should have to.
   52. GGIAS (aka Poster Nutbag) Posted: September 20, 2013 at 12:48 PM (#4546357)
That Donaldson kid ain't too shabby either....

(I am NOT comparing the two as Machado's "D" is otherworldly, just really digging the depth at 3B these days)
   53. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: September 20, 2013 at 01:51 PM (#4546422)
That IS a spectacular name. But is it real?
It's real AND it's spectacular!
   54. Rants Mulliniks Posted: September 20, 2013 at 02:08 PM (#4546434)
And its spelled wrong too.
   55. cardsfanboy Posted: September 20, 2013 at 02:29 PM (#4546462)
BBRef has Machado at 474 chances in 152 games this year for a 4.2 dWAR. So in a little more than 3 chances per game, he's contributed 4+ wins, just on defense? I apparently do not understand dWAR.


You need to look at rField, not dWar. dWar has a positional adjustment applied to it. His 34 fRield is basically the number of runs saved over an average third baseman. (roughly 3 wins) On top of that, fielding numbers are screwy to begin with because they adjust for future events. (to give you an idea... First pitch of the game, a guy hits a fly ball, it's going over the fence, but it's a robbed homerun... Most people would think that that play saved one run....by defensive numbers, that played saved roughly 1.121 runs... plays made affect runs saved beyond the immediate play being played, and defensive metrics account for that.) So when a guy like Machado turns a double into an out, he gets credited for effectively two things. Robbing the double and the fact that the next guy up to bat is up to bat with another out on the scoreboard.
   56. ddp Posted: September 20, 2013 at 02:38 PM (#4546470)
Delmonico was traded to Milwaukee in the K-Rod deal.
   57. rlc Posted: September 20, 2013 at 02:46 PM (#4546475)
It's possible that eventually Schoop will be at third and Machado at short, but for 2014 Schoop is more likely to be at second; it's doubtful the O's will choose to open another infield hole by trading Hardy before they fill the existing hole. Nicky Delmonico was traded to the Brewers for Francisco Rodriguez, but not before establishing that he couldn't handle third base in A ball.

Sean, I need much more clarification on "shift plays" being removed from the equation. Do you mean only plays where the infield's natural order changes (e.g. 3B on right-field side of SS), or any play where a fielder is outside of his normal zone as defined by John McGraw? Because if it's the latter, you're eliminating the majority of plays for the Orioles. I have to think this is one of the reasons Machado's numbers are so great - he's allowed to cover so much more ground than your father's third baseman. Much of the time Manny is playing in the 5.5 hole while Hardy is looking over the pitcher's shoulder at the hitter. The result is Machado picking up assists on balls that "normally" are SS plays deep in the hole, and Hardy getting to balls that "normally" go into CF.
   58. rlc Posted: September 20, 2013 at 02:52 PM (#4546483)
I don't see enough of Arenado or Donaldson to compare their defense to Machado; Longoria and Lawrie are both frustratingly good, but I think Manny's been better this year.

What was the deal with the Jays talking about moving Lawrie back to second in the middle of the season? Do they have some kid from the Dutch Antilles in the minors that I haven't heard about?
   59. Qufini Posted: September 20, 2013 at 02:54 PM (#4546484)
Thanks for the correction in Delmonico. I remembered the OFs traded for Feldman and Norris but didn't notice who was traded for KRod.
   60. Sean Forman Posted: September 20, 2013 at 03:25 PM (#4546511)
rlc, You'd have to ask BIS that one. I'm not sure how they score that.
   61. Mike Emeigh Posted: September 20, 2013 at 03:39 PM (#4546523)
Shift plays shouldn't be taken out of the equation. If Machado's playing in the 5.5 hole for a given hitter, his distribution of expected plays should be adjusted based on where he's playing. field f/X should help with this.

-- MWE
   62. cardsfanboy Posted: September 20, 2013 at 03:48 PM (#4546533)
Shift plays shouldn't be taken out of the equation. If Machado's playing in the 5.5 hole for a given hitter, his distribution of expected plays should be adjusted based on where he's playing. field f/X should help with this.


Eventually maybe, but do they have enough data available for those type of plays to be making any claims as relative to average with confidence?

I mean if only a handful of teams are making these type of shifts, you have a limited data pool of a person playing that position, and that data includes a large amount of that particular player more than likely.

I understand that he might be in a spot where a shortstop is normally positioned, but he loses the third baseman to his side to rob plays from that side of the infield.
   63. The District Attorney Posted: September 20, 2013 at 07:57 PM (#4546667)
And Andrelton Simmons is the best defensive shortstop of all time, so, that's weird.

As for Machado, looks like a good defensive season to me. Not a great one. Virtually every 3B in the league could have done it. And would have, had they managed to be shifted around in the clumsy manner that he was and then happened to field the ball there in the gift of the year.

The shifts carry him away from 3B, which I guess is why people were fooled into thinking this was a special defensive season. I see nothing remarkable about it.
   64. DKDC Posted: September 20, 2013 at 08:32 PM (#4546680)
I think #63 is at the point where it's funny again.

Of course, the original Wow Manny play is the source of the joke, so it's fun to see it come full circle.

If it wasn't clear from my earlier post, Manny is an absolute joy to watch, but I can't help the nagging feeling that he's not quote THAT good and something is skewing the defensive stats which I think we all agree have a long way to go.

I can't wait for field f/x.
   65. Lassus Posted: September 20, 2013 at 08:40 PM (#4546684)
rlc, You'd have to ask BIS that one. I'm not sure how they score that.

Am I the only one on the whole site who can't see anything about BIS without wondering what a Swedish classical record label has to with baseball?

Anyone?



I'll let myself out.

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