Baltimore Orioles: After rough start to career, sky’s the limit for Machado


Following two major knee surgeries in consecutive seasons, Manny Machado was the only player to play in all 162 games in 2015.  This placed the third basemen 4th in voting for the Sporting News’ American League Comeback Player of the Year award.  Despite the frustrating season for the O’s, the Gold Glove third baseman gave the fans a reason to keep coming to the ballpark.  Machado’s career year involved  reaching several milestones, earning a spot on the American League All-Star team, in conversations for MVP, and setting franchise records.  The well-deserved season comes after a long and difficult road to recovery.

At the age of 17, the Orioles selected the renowned Machado with the third pick in the 2010 draft.  It didn’t take long for Machado to find himself suited up in a Baltimore Orioles uniform as he earned his MLB debut from Double-A-Bowie in August of 2012.  The calm and collective 20-year-old received standing ovations and roaring Man-ny chants in his debut with the Orioles. It’s safe to say Machado didn’t disappoint the Camden Yards crowd.  In his second at-bat, Machado delivered a triple in the fifth inning and later added his second hit of the game to complete his debut going 2-4.  Manny concluded the season batting  .262/.294/.445/.739, with 7 home runs and 26 RBIs in 202 plate appearances.

Machado provided excitement throughout the league entering his first full season as a major leaguer.  The nation noticed the third baseman’s astonishing potential, placing him in the conversation with Bryce Harper and Mike Trout as the best young players in the league.  Machado produced league-leading numbers with both his bat and his glove in 2013.  The 21-year-old led the league in at-bats (667), runner-up in doubles (51), seventh in hits (189) and plate appearances (710), and tenth in extra-base hits (68).  The young phenom generated a batting stat line of .283/.314/.432/.746 with 14 home runs and 71 RBIs.  The gold glover was first in total zone runs (32) and double plays turned (42).  Machado was second in several major league defensive categories such as putouts (116), assists (355), range factor (3.05), and fifth in fielding percentage (.973).  To top off his impressive season, Machado earned his first All-Star appearance.

As the Orioles neared playoff elimination in the final week of the regular season, Machado endured a disastrous looking injury to his left knee.  The injury transpired as Machado stepped on the edge offirst base, bending his left knee inward.  He immediately crumpled to the ground in tremendous pain. Machadowas then carted off the field in a stretcher as the league held their breath.   Doctors revealed that Machado had suffered a torn medial patellofemoral ligament to his left knee that required reconstructive surgery and a 4-6 month recovery time.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

After months of rehab, Machado made his 2014 season debut during the nightcap of a day-night doubleheader on May 1st (Game 26) against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Machado batted .278/.324/.431/.755 with 12 homers and 32 RBI’s during his comeback season.  After appearing in 82 games during the Orioles division title run in 2014, Machado sustained another tragic knee injury.  During an at-bat against the Yankees, Machado took an awkward swing and plunged in the batter’s box, grabbing his right knee.  First reported as a sprain, doctors later declared that Machado would need surgery for the second time in consecutive seasons.  Doctors repaired a torn medial patellofemoral ligament and abnormalities in Machado’s right knee, shutting him down for the season once again.

Coming off devastating injuries in back to back seasons, many questioned if Machado’s body would prevent him from reaching his full potential. Those questions and concerns faded as Machado established himself as an MVP candidate for the 2015 season.  At the young age of 23, Machado season went down as one the greatest in Oriole’s history.  The third baseman joined exclusive Oriole clubs including the 20/20 and 30/20 club.  Machado became only the fifth Orioles to steal at least 20 bases and hit at least 20 home runs.  Powering 35 home runs this season, Machado joined Brady Anderson as the only Oriole players to be in the 30/20 club.

As baseball fans, we are all grateful to see the up-and-coming superstar evolve into something astonishing.  In 2015, Machado added power with 35 home runs and speed with 20 stolen bases.  Adding speed and power with his breathtaking defensive abilities is vital advancements to his young career.  If the Orioles want to be first class witnesses to Machado’s historic career, a prominent contract needs to be handed to the young man soon.  As the sky’s the limit for this unique player, who wouldn’t want Machado on their team?