Today’s Pod Projection is the Orioles young third sacker, Manny Machado. In his first full season, the sophomore accumulated a mightily impressive 6.2 WAR. Unfortunately, his season ended with a serious knee injury that required surgery. As a result, he may not be ready for opening day and the uncertainty is reducing his draft cost.
2014 Pod Projection Index:
Plate Appearances: 600
Last season, Machado recorded 710 plate appearances, which tied for the seventh highest total in baseball. Remaining healthy (nearly) all season, while batting second for a solid lineup contributed to the inflated total. But his recovery from surgery now clouds his outlook and it’s anyone’s guess when exactly he’s healthy enough to be in the lineup. Of course, even when he does return, you never know if he will have additional health problems during the season related to the knee.
It’s a smidgen worse than the 15.9% mark he posted last season, but a sustaining of the improvement he made from his 2012 debut. He generally posted mid-teen strikeout rate marks in the minors and posted slightly above league average Contact% and SwStk% marks.
This distribution is essentially his career average that includes his 2012. The line drive rate is a bit higher due to the fluky low 13.9% mark he posted in 2012 that is dragging down his average.
This was one of the areas Machado seemingly got lucky in as he hit pop-ups at the eighth highest rate among all qualified hitters. As we know, pop-ups are essentially automatic outs, so it’s difficult to maintain a high BABIP when such a high rate of your batted balls are assured of finding gloves. Machado posted the highest BABIP among all qualified hitters with at least a 15% IFFB%. Of that group, the unweighted average BABIP was just .286 (Machado posted a .322 mark). Furthermore, he posted sub-.300 BABIP marks at every minor league stop (excluding his small sample stint at Low-A in 2010). While all this seems to suggest that maybe a .300 BABIP might actually still be too high, he did hit a solid rate of liners and has enough speed to take advantage of his ground ball tilt.
HR/FB Ratio: 9.5%
He posted a somewhat disappointing 7.9% mark last year and generally didn’t show a whole lot of home run power in the minors either. However, his xHR/FB rate was a much better 12.6%, as he pulled the ball frequently and tended to mix in shorter fly balls with longer bombs, which lead to more homers than if he had consistently been average. While many will predict that some of his American League leading 51 doubles will turn into home runs, research suggests that this does not actually happen. Still, given his age and pedigree, one would assume his power will increase.
Runs and RBI: 72 and 66
He was at 88 and 71, respectively, last year, but with the decline in plate appearances comes a decline in these counting stats. The Orioles lineup could look a bit different this year with question marks at the bottom of the lineup given their second base and left field battles.
Machado was successful on just six of his 13 stolen base attempts last year. I am projecting a better success rate this season, but given his recovery from knee surgery, assume he will run a bit less frequently.
Below is my final projected fantasy batting line, along with the other systems for comparison.
There’s some disagreement over his batting average, while the home run projections are remarkably close (extrapolating the Steamer projection to the same number of at-bats yields about 15 home runs as well). Oliver is certainly unaware of Machado’s knee injury, as it is not only projecting a better success rate on the base paths, but also the same number of attempts in 110 fewer plate appearances.
While the knee surgery has calmed the hype a bit, I still feel that Machado is massively overvalued. I’m not sure what drafters are expecting, since it’s clear I’m not that much more pessimistic than the other systems. Machado’s NFBC ADP is 113th overall, yet my projected line valued him as just the 203rd most valuable player in a similar 15-team league format.
Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.