Baltimore made a bold decision last year and brought up Machado late in the year to play at third base. Machado responded with a slash line that left a lot to be desired (.262/.294/.445) but he did hit 7 home runs in 51 games and played excellent defense at third base. While Machado did have a good year I was worried that his subpar OBP would eventually drag down his career. Boy I was wrong.
Machado this season has responded with a .322/.354/.489 slash line with 129 wRC+, .166 ISO, and .365 wOBA. His .367 BABIP is something to keep an eye on because he could/most likely regress as the season moves along. While Machado has hit two less home runs in 20 more games so far this year he has hit an astounding 32 doubles so far and is on pace to break the doubles record for the year by 5.
I thought this would be a good time to break out Machado's graphs and plate discipline numbers to see where everything has gone right so far.
Machado has improved his plate discipline mightily this year leading to his better OBP. Check out the numbers.
O-Swing % (The percent of pitches he swings at outside of the strike zone): 2012, 29.5%, 2013, 25.8%
Z-Swing % (The percent of pitches he swings at inside the strike zone): 2012: 65.2%, 2013: 62.2%
Swing % (The total percent he swings at): 2012: 47.9%, 2013: 43.9%
All of Machado's swing percentages are below average this year which is good. Machado has become a much more patient hitter while making better contact outside the strike zone and inside the strike zone. Machado has become a much more complete hitter while sacrificing just a little bit of power. (Numbers via Fangraphs)
Machado's heat map is insane. He's basically hitting everything that isn't shoulder level and he's particularly good when he's ahead of the count. Machado is weak when he's behind the count but with his added plate discipline he isn't behind the count as much.
So is Machado just a pull hitter? Not even close. Machado is hitting the ball all over the outfield. You really can't shift your defense against Machado because he sprays the ball all over.
Image via Texas Leaguers in case it stops showing up)
Machado has morphed into a well rounded hitter this season. Yes he hasn't quite hit as many home runs as he should, but he's sacrificed a little power for a better approach at the plate making him the 2nd most valuable Oriole behind Chris Davis. And while I'm sure Machado will regress a little and not reach the doubles record his offensive production will keep the Orioles in the playoff hunt all season.