By now, the fact that Baltimore Orioles Manny Machado will be the shortstop in 2018 is old news.
But, what isn’t old news is that the Baltimore Orioles now have what is considered the second-best double-play combination in the MLB.
With Machado and Jonathan Schoop filling in the middle, it is safe to say that fans will be treated to some unbelievable double plays in 2018.
This exciting ranking came via MLB.com and was reported by Anthony Castrovince. The double-play duo was second only to another highlight-reel-worthy duo: Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. In the rest of the top five, the combos were from the Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Washington Nationals.
To figure the ranking, MLB used statistics from FanGraphs regarding defensive runs saved and offensive runs above average. So, they looked at how many runs the player scored while on offense and how many they prevented from scoring on defense. They also looked at ultimate zone rating (UZR) – which is pretty much a rating system that looks at how well defensive players cover their zone – think assigning numbers to highlight-reel plays. In Machado’s Platinum Glove season (2013), his UZR was 31.8, but his career average is 14.3, according to FanGraphs. For comparison purposes, Correa actually has a negative UZR.
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Statistics aside, there is no doubt that Machado and Schoop will certainly pass the eyeball test. Fans have watched Machado play third base with a style not seen since Brooks Robinson was called Mr. Hoover. And, Machado is supposed to be even better at shortstop.
Then, there’s Schoop, who was the only Oriole to go to the All-Star Game in 2017. He makes playing second base look easy, and it most certainly isn’t. I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to a few diving catches and acrobatic tosses to second. In 2017, Schoop was involved in 132 double plays at second base. And, remember that he was without a consistent shortstop for most of the season. With Machado on the prowl, that number could increase.
Along with their defensive abilities, these two could have more fun chasing each other at the plate. All season, they were neck-in-neck in home runs and doubles, even their at-bats were within eight of each other. Considering that Machado had a down-year, the fans could be in for a real show.
But, no matter what these two do, they will have to do it better than anyone else. The pitching situation is still unsettled. So not only will plenty of amazing defense be needed, but so will outstanding performances at the plate. They could very quickly become the best double-play combination and two-three combination at the plate, too.