We've all been watching this kid. And we all know he's good. Damn good.
After a very solid debut season in 2012, Machado has been absolutely brilliant in the first quarter of the 2013 season. One thing that makes him so special is that he is an incredibly well rounded ball player. He certainly has that 5-tool skill set that every scout, manager, and fan dreams of.
The part of Machado's game that I love watching the most is his defense. For a player that only began playing third a short while ago, he has transitioned magnificently. Nothing makes me giddy like watching Manny barehand a slow rolling ground ball and fire to first for the out. Nobody does it better.
Statistically, Machado has been a stud at the hot corner. He leads all infielders with an 8.5 overall UZR. The next best UZR for an infielder is Elvis Andrus with a 6.3. The next best third basemen is even lower; Todd Frazier's 5.1 UZR. If we break down the components of UZR, we find another incredibly impressive stat. Machado's 7.5 RngR (range runs above average) bests all infielders by 3.2 runs (again, Andrus is second with 4.3 RngR). Among third basemen, Machado leads in this category by a ridiculous 4.4 runs (Todd Frazier, 3.1 RngR). Comparing Machado to all 3B, he ranks first in RZR (revised zone rating) with a .807. These are phenomenal numbers, especially for a kid who's just 20 years old, and only just getting his first taste of playing the big league hot corner.
If you aren't sure what any of those stats are exactly, you can read up in the glossary section of FanGraphs. They aren't difficult to understand conceptually once you know what you're looking at.
As Machado continues to get it done with the leather, in 2013 he has blossomed into one of the best young hitters in the game. His slash line through the first 47 games this season stands at a remarkable .330/.362/.527. He places in the top 5 among hitters under the age of 26 in wRAA (9.6), wOBA (.372), and wRC+ (131).* He also ranks fourth in baseball in total bases, with 107, just behind another notable rising star, Mike Trout, who has totaled 110 bases.
* runs above average, weighted on-base average, and weighted runs created plus
One key reason for Machado's success at the plate in 2013 is due to greatly improved plate discipline. Below is a chart of Machado's plate discipline in 2012 and 2013 (provided by FanGraphs).
The first stat that jumps out is that Manny has cut down significantly on the percentage of pitches he chases outside of the strike zone (O-Swing%). In 2012, he chased 1/3 of pitches outside the zone, but in 2013 he has managed to cut that number to ¼, which is a good thing to see as from a hitter (unless you're like Pablo Sandoval). Moreover, when Machado does chase outside of the zone, he's making contact more often (O-Contact%). Overall, Machado is chasing less and hitting more in 2013, and that's done wonders for him through the first quarter of the season.
Overall, I'm just excited to keep watching this kid play on a daily basis and do what he does best. Also, I found out in my research that Manny is engaged to Yonder Alonso's sister... so good for them. And now, a GIF.
I can't make it move. It's 4am. Just click it.