Hall of Fame voter Mark Zuckerman on the 2014 class
The Orioles hope Manny Machado will be ready for opening day. The unofficial reports are positive, and as long as Machado is playing in spring games by mid-March, he should be in fine shape.
Machado had a terrific first full season in the big leagues. His third base play was exemplary, and his offense was much better than expected.
While he may not make the same number of spectacular plays in 2014, Machado’s defense should be solid. He’ll work with third base coach Bobby Dickerson to improve on any weaknesses, not that there are many, and Dickerson will make sure he doesn’t backslide.
Generally excellent defensive players are good year after year, and that should be the case with Machado.
How about at bat?
While Machado batted .283, his on-base percentage was just .314. He struck out nearly four times as often as he walked. His 29 bases on balls will have to get better.
His power numbers were terrific, especially those 51 doubles. There’s no reason he shouldn’t get 40 or more this year, too.
Machado had 14 home runs and 71 RBIs. It’s not unreasonable to think he could hit 30 homers and drive in 100 runs, even this year.
While Chris Davis may not have the same number of homers and RBIs, Machado could well have many more, making up the difference.
NOTE: The Orioles signed INF/OF Scott Savastano to a minor league deal. He spent the last six seasons in the Seattle organization. Last year, he hit .235 with three home runs and 20 RBIs in 53 games for Triple-A Tacoma. He does not receive an invitation to big league camp.