Pitchers and catchers have reported. Spring Training 2017 is heating up. Here’s a mental exercise to get you thinking about two of today’s best players.
Baseball fans are blessed with the amount of young talent that is present in the game today. The 2010 amateur draft has generated more than its fair share of stars. Bryce Harper went 1st, Manny Machado 3rd, Matt Harvey 7th, Chris Sale 13th, and Christian Yelich 23rd. This doesn’t even take into account players like Drew Pomerantz, Yasmani Grandal, or Jameson Taillon who are just now building their big league resume or teams like the Mariners or Tigers who didn’t have a first round pick that year but still landed Taijuan Walker and Nick Castellanos with their first picks during round two.
photo credit: R. Carr
Harper and Machado have cemented their places as top ten players, some would even argue top five. Often times, comparing player value is difficult as one player may be much older or much more expensive than another. That’s not the case with Harper and Machado though which allows for the following thought experiment. As a thought experiment: Does Machado or Harper have more trade appeal? Here is a short summary of both players.
Manny Machado – Plays third base and shortstop. He’s 24 years old. Machado was called up in August of 2012 and played 51 games. Since then he has totaled 156, 82, 162, and 157 games. His Baseball Reference WAR season by season has been 1.6, 6.7, 2.4, 7.1, and 6.7 (24.4 total). Hardware: 3 All Star selections and 2 Gold Glove awards along with two top-five MVP finishes.
Bryce Harper – Plays outfield. He’s 24 years old. His Baseball Reference WAR season by season has been 5.1, 3.7, 1.0, 9.9, and 1.6 (21.5 total). Harper has played over 150 games in a season only one time (139, 118, 100, 153, 147). Hardware: NL Rookie of the Year, NL MVP, 4 All Star selections, and 1 Silver Slugger award.
Harper put up one of the most statistically impressive seasons during the 2015 season but fell back to Earth in 2016. Many believe the slippage was at least in part due to his playing through an injury (in addition to a general regression to the mean). Machado continued to deliver elite performance at bat and in the field. Interestingly, although he maintained his power (37 homers in 2016 as compared to 35 in 2015) he went from stealing 20 bases in 2015 to zero based in 2016.
Both players are in similar contractual positions as they remain arbitration eligible until both enter free agency in 2019.
Given the information above, here are some questions:
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