2. Manny Machado showed he is a true superstar.
Lost to the Bryce Harper lovefest in the Mid-Atlantic region, is the fact that Manny Machado is also still only 23 years old. After two straight seasons that ended with Machado writing in pain, holding his knee, the third baseman showed this year that he is every bit a superstar. Machado played all 162 games, and led the league with 713 plate appearances. He was fully healthy, reined in his temper and showed real strides toward maturity, honed his approach at the plate, and finally harnessed his power stroke, turning doubles into home runs.
Machado spent most of the year in the leadoff spot, but that will need to change next year. The 23-year-old, two-time All-Star slashed .286/.359/.502 with 35 home runs and 86 RBIs. Two years ago, when Machado played 156 games, he drew only 29 walks. This year, he more than doubled that total, all the way up to 70 while also adding 70 points to his slugging percentage. Machado also struck out only 111 times, a minuscule number for a power hitter in today’s game.
The best news yet about Manny Machado — he wants to sign a long-term extension and stay in Baltimore for the best years of his career. Again, Peter, open the checkbook.