The likes of Chipper Jones, Scott Rolen, Adrian Beltre, David Wright, and others have dominated the hot corner for the majority of the twenty-first century. As years go by, however, old names slowly fade as fresh bodies burst onto the scene.
Toronto Blue Jays third baseman, Josh Donaldson, will enter the 2016 campaign as defender of the American League Most Valuable Player Award. At 29 years old, Donaldson is in the prime of his career after spending his first three seasons with the Oakland Athletics.
While Donaldson currently sets the standard for third basemen across the league, two youngsters are just getting their careers started.
Machado, 23, and Arenado, 24, solidified themselves last season as the best young third basemen in the league, although the Chicago Cubs’ Kris Bryant and the San Francisco Giants’ Matt Duffy may have something to say about that. Both Machado and Arenado finished in the top ten in MVP voting in their respective leagues in 2015, with Machado notching his second top-ten finish in three years.
Comparing Machado and Arenado is like flipping a coin that has “really, really, really good baseball player” painted on both sides. Both young men are stellar in just about every facet of the game.
This brings us to an interesting question: Which of these two players would you rather have on your team for the next ten years?
You will have an opportunity to vote at the end of this article, but first, let’s analyze each player.
Input from knowledgeable fans is important when determining the most popular of a selection of players. Here is what a few had to say:
“I think I’d take Arenado. Machado has always come off as kind of a brat to me,” said Shane Sullivan, a Cleveland Indians fan who has taken “Baseball Twitter” by storm with his @ShtBallPlayrsDo account. Sullivan, alluding to a 2014 incident that ended with Machado tossing his bat down the third base line in a game against the Oakland Athletics, certainly has a point.
“That’s REALLY tough…They are essentially the same player. All their stats are within a few percentage points of each other,” said Robby Burden, a Boston Red Sox fan who lives in San Diego. “I get to see more of Arenado being on the West Coast, and I think playing in [Coors Field] boosts him offensively. I might pick [Machado] because he’s younger.”
Shawn Bosman, an unbiased baseball fan typically found catching home runs in Milwaukee’s Miller Park, said, “I’d say they are evenly matched until I look at Arenado’s splits…the splits are telling. I’d be wary of the Coors Field effect,” before ultimately declaring, “I’ll take Machado.”
“Predictably, I’m on Team Arenado,” said Rockies fan Connor Farrell. “When he first came up, his bat was a liability. He swung too aggressively and got pushed into bad at-bats. Last year, he became a monster power hitter who hit equally as well on the road as in Coors.” After pointing out that it is hard to say whether or not Arenado’s lack of plate discipline will improve, Farrell added, “Machado’s truly a generational talent but I want Nolan on my team because every year he’s surprised me and every year he’s going to surprise me.” Biased? Maybe a little bit.
“That’s tough…but I’ll go with Machado. I think if he didn’t have his injuries, he would have similar numbers. Also, Arenado plays half of his games at Coors Field, which inflate his statistics a bit,” said Ryan Dice, a Giants fan who lives in Maryland and therefore sees a good bit of Machado in action.
Although both Machado and Arenado are premier players, one common theme brought up in discussion is the benefit of the 81 games per year that Arenado gets to play in thin-aired, hitter-friendly Coors Field.
Now, get a load of their statistics.[table “” not found /]
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While Arenado has a bit of an edge in the power department and Machado on the bases, both players are quite evenly matched across the board. On the defensive side of the ball, both third basemen hold a career fielding percentage of .966 while combining for five Gold Glove Awards (Arenado – 3, Machado – 2). Machado’s UZR/150 of 17.8 is superior to Arenado’s 10.8 but Arenado boasts 64 career defensive runs saved in 3,439 innings to Machado’s 62 DRS in 3,963 innings.
Clearly, both are flashy with the glove and have a laundry list of outstanding plays. Here are a couple that really stand out:
There are arguments in favor of both Manny Machado and Nolan Arenado and there really is no right or wrong answer when choosing who you would rather have on your team for the next ten years. Concerns include injury history with Machado and “the Coors Field effect” with Arenado.
It is time for you to decide. Which player would you choose?
Would you rather:
— Baseball Essential (@BB_Essential) December 4, 2015