When twenty-year-old Manny Machado was called up to play third base for the Baltimore Orioles last year, most of us were excited but nervous. After all, we'd seen prospects come up and flame out more than once, and we didn't want the same for young Manny. It's been almost a year since his debut and so far he has shown us that we have nothing to worry about.
As of today, Manny Machado can finally walk into a bar and legally be served a beer. And if he does it in Baltimore, my guess is that he won't even have to pay.
Personally, I'm pretty sure that I did nothing of merit before I was old enough to drink. Manny Machado has played in 138 baseball games and started every single one of them. If you go by the Wins Above Replacement measurement, Manny has been good for a 5.0 WAR by Baseball References measure to lead the American League. FanGraphs puts him at 4.1, good for fifth. Even if you take the lower measurement of the two, he's on a pace for a WAR of 7.6, which would be 9th best single season by an Oriole since 1954.
His defensive numbers are off the charts; FanGraphs lists him as the best defensive player in baseball this season. He is on pace to hit 70 doubles this season, which is absolutely absurd. He's second in baseball in total number of hits, two behind future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera. Other than his low walk rate, we couldn't ask for more from Manny. But we're going to get it, because the odds are he's only going to get better. After all, he's JUST now turned 21.
So happy birthday, Manny Machado! I raise my glass to you and thank you for the joy you've brought to Birdland since you were drafted. Here's to the hope that this October you'll be spraying champagne on your teammates and also be legally old enough to drink it.