There are few things more boring in baseball commentary than the praise of players who make routine players look spectacular. One of those baseball-isms that gets thrown around is when they say that you know a player had a good game when he comes in at the end and his uniform is dirty. Sometimes that can be true, like if the game hinged on a clutch slide into home plate. Other times a guy's uniform is dirty because he's not good enough for it to not be dirty.
When you get the guys who don't even need to sully their home whites or road greys, those are the guys who are really good. Take Manny Machado, for instance. He's awesome. Maybe sometimes he ends up with a dirty uniform, sure, but other times he goes all out without even making it look hard.
Machado floats across his part of the baseball diamond as if riding a cloud, and after fielding a baseball with a silky-smooth glove, or sometimes even his bare hands, he loads his cannon arm and fires, all without breaking a sweat or getting any dirt or grass anywhere other than his cleats. Just look at this cool customer in action:
A lesser third baseman dives for that ball, gets his uniform dirty, "has a good game" while making the play look more dramatic than it needs to be. A still-lesser third baseman dives and stops the ball without fielding it, and he'd get praised by his team's TV announcers, surely, for taking a "sure double" and turning it into a single. And then there's the guy who dives and gets his uniform dirty but he never comes close to the ball.
Did any of these guys have a better game than Machado, who takes a hard play and makes it look easy? Nope.
Of course, there are those plays where even Machado has to dive, like his quick reflexes on this sharp grounder before he fires to second to get the force in a crucial situation:
No, rest of baseball, you can't have him. He's ours for another three years at least, and hopefully beyond that, years full of All-Star appearances and Gold Gloves and hopefully high MVP finishes and maybe if we're really lucky, honors in postseason series, because that's how good that he is.
Not that he's limited to doing things on defense, either. The Orioles are not a team who steals very often, but Machado is the leader in stolen bases by far, racking up 14 of the 29 stolen bases the team has made this year. He's been successful about 78% of the time, adding another dimension to his game.
Oh, and while we're talking about adding dimensions to his game, here's another thing Manny does that's awesome without ever getting his uniform dirty even a little bit:
That's Machado casually launching a massive bomb against David Price, just yesterday traded to the Blue Jays. Who's worried about a Cy Young winner when you're as awesome as Manny is? Well, he's sure not worried.
So far this season, Machado is worth 4.5 Wins Above Replacement according to Fangraphs (fWAR), a total exceeded by only five players in the whole rest of the league. Between his offense and his defense he does something to help the team win nearly every night. Maybe his uniform got dirty or maybe it didn't, but either way, it's a good guess that Manny Machado had a good game. He's the best.
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