Will Manny Machado keep leading off?
One of the more surprising developments in 2015 was Manny Machado’s ascension to the top of the batting order. Buck Showalter has always eschewed the prototypical leadoff role with the Orioles. Now, maybe that’s because he didn’t actually have anyone capable of playing the typical role — slapping and stealing bases. Regardless, Machado led off in 111 games last year and hit .300/.364/.512 with 23 of his 35 home runs. His plate discipline improved, Machado more than doubled his career-high walk total, and emerged as a true superstar.
The big question remains, however, would the Orioles benefit more by sliding Machado into a run-producing slot in the batting order?
The bottom third of the Orioles lineup last season was a mess, and very often, Machado was not hitting with runners in scoring position. There does need to be someone setting the table for the three- and four-hole hitters, but what if Machado is actually the best hitter on the team. He should be the one the tables are set for. Where Manny Machado hits in the 2016 lineup depends entirely on whether Chris Davis is re-signed or Justin Upton is brought in.