Baltimore Orioles: Time to move Machado to middle of order?


Photo: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The ebb and flow of the season seems to be contagious among the teams in the AL East. When the Orioles were playing well in June it seemed every other team in the division was also playing well. Eventually they worked their way toward the top of the division, but despite their solid record in the month, they were unable to break away from the pack.

Now, over the past week or so, the Orioles have struggled a bit. Fortunately for them, the rest of the division has followed suit and struggled within the same time frame. The result has been a cluster of teams shuffling around first place for the past few weeks.

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  • On one hand, it’s a shame the Orioles didn’t use this past week to separate from the rest of the division. On the other hand, they didn’t lose any ground in the division, despite their poor play.

    Again, the Orioles struggles are concentrated around the offensive side of the game, which still seems odd given the strong lineup they field every night. To say the team was struggling offensively is putting it mildly, given that the Orioles almost went three straight games without scoring a run.

    It wasn’t a fluke that it was a two-run homerun by Manny Machado that eventually broke the scoreless streak. In fact, Machado has been the most consistently productive hitter all season. Production, however, that could be getting misused at the leadoff position.

    It seems every season the Orioles are searching for a leadoff hitter, and when nobody seemed to produce consistently enough at the spot, Machado was moved into the spot. Since moving there, he’s been everything the Orioles asked and more, and that could be part of the reason he has remained at the spot.

    However, Machado is now hitting .302 and he is second on the team with 17 home runs. He is also leading the team with 18 doubles. That’s a lot of extra-base power for a leadoff hitter, given that batting leadoff guarantees at least one at-bat a game with nobody on base.

    Obviously, moving a player in the lineup that’s being so productive can be problematic. There is certainly a level of stability and comfort that comes with batting in the same spot every day, and the Orioles certainly don’t want to disturb that. Also, if Machado were to move further down in the lineup, the Orioles would need a quality candidate to take his vacated spot in the lineup.

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    It might not be a smooth transition at first, but given the Orioles recent struggles it might be necessary to put their most productive hitter in a position to drive in runs more often.

    Next: Orioles news: No All Stars?

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