One of the biggest stories of the offseason has been the Phillies’ desire to “spend stupid money” while being connected to the two biggest free agents on the market, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. The Phillies are obviously right on the cusp of being an outstanding team with one of the best young cores in the game including Odubel Herrera, Aaron Nola, and Rhys Hoskins, and see Harper and/or Machado as the piece(s) that will push them over the edge. Personally, however, I don’t believe Machado is the way to push the team over the edge.
At first glance, a 26-year-old third baseman who has accumulated 33.8 bWAR over the course of a seven-year career almost makes too much sense for this Phillies’ team that has seen incumbent Maikel Franco struggle over the past few seasons. That said, there even more reasons that Machado would not be the best fit in Philadelphia.
First of all, let’s take a gander at his statistics. Over 926 career games, Machado has slashed .282/.335/.487 with an OPS of .822. The batting average and slugging percentage are very solid, but the on-base percentage is exceptionally concerning. A .335 OBP is below average for anyone, but it’s even worse when you consider that his batting average is .282. For his career, he has an isolated on base percentage of .053. What’s even more concerning is the fact that he is just one season removed from posting a season OBP of .310! OBP is the most important statistic when looking at longevity.
While I made a mention of this in a July edition of Crash Course, when you look at guys who played into their late 30’s and early 40’s, on base percentage was a common area of success in later seasons. In the article, I used ten guys who remained relevant through their late-30’s into their 40’s and calculated their isolated on base percentage from beyond their age 35 seasons. The average was 0.111, which is more than double Machado’s career number of 0.053 from his age 19 through 25 seasons.The Philadelphia Phillies see Manny Machado as the potential final piece of a championship. But Philadelphia native @OrsattiJoe sees Machado in a different light, and advises the Phillies to steer clear of the free agent.Click To Tweet
Many have cited that this contract isn’t likely to go beyond his age 34 season, which is a fair argument. That’s where the second part of my argument comes in. Many believe that the hustle comments have been overblown, but take a look at the numbers. 2018, Machado’s contract year, was the biggest year that he’s ever had, but of his seven seasons, his OPS has been below .800 four times. The talent is undeniable, but when you take out his contract year, his numbers have been above average as opposed to the superstar level that he is typically touted as. When Machado, who has said himself, that he isn’t ever going to be “Johnny Hustle,” is making a guaranteed $200 million, what incentive does he really have to care. While one could argue that he could be inspired to play for the good of the team, we’re talking about a guy who insisted on playing shortstop for the Orioles last season, despite the presence of Tim Beckham, who was coming off of an excellent season, and despite the fact that he was far inferior defensively at short than third, to augment his own potential earning power. If I’m giving big money to a player over a long period of time, the make-up is one of the most important factors.
While the first two reasons haven’t necessarily been exclusive to the Phillies, who really don’t have much concern in terms of finances, the third one screams Philadelphia. Take a look at this video of Machado’s reaction to being thrown at by Chris Sale. Obviously, it’s never fun to be thrown at, but was this reaction necessary? If an event like that throws him over the edge, then imagine how he’ll respond to the fans in Philadelphia. As a lifetime native of the great city of Philadelphia, I know first hand that when you play in Philadelphia, and do not leave it all out on the line every day, you will get booed… a lot.
On top of that, once you factor in the amount of money that he’s looking to command, his margin for error is essentially non-existent. With all this in mind, does it make any sense to bring in a guy with seemingly thin skin, who has actually said that he is not going to be “Johnny Hustle” on a nine-figure deal? I would consider the answer to this question to be a resounding, “no”.