You often hear of the times when scouts and stats are in disagreement, such as last year’s AL MVP debate between Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout. One area in which the two happily agree is the defense of Orioles third baseman Manny Machado. Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), found at FanGraphs, rates him as the best defensive third baseman in baseball, ahead of Evan Longoria and Nolan Arenado. He leads all American League defenders in defensive Wins Above Replacement according to Baseball Reference. And the scouts say he’s the best in the business at the hot corner, too.
Today, he showed that in a big way. With the Yankees up 1-0 with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Luis Cruz hit a ground ball down the third base line. Machado ranged to his right but the ball kicked off of the heel of his glove. He stuck with it, corralling the ball almost immediately in foul territory, then fired an off-balance throw to first baseman Chris Davis for the out. Judging from the naked eye, the throw might have been 135 feet.
Shades of Brooks Robinson.
He went 0-for-4 at the dish, but still leads the league with 39 doubles, putting him on pace for 71 over 162 games. That puts him on pace to break Earl Webb’s single-season record of 67 doubles set in 1931.
The Kansas City Star has covered the death of Yordano Ventura and its aftermath in a thorough, thoughtful, respectful and admirable fashion and it has all been compelling to read, even if it’s often been difficult to read. Their latest story may be the most difficult, though it is nonetheless essential.
It covers the final year of Ventura’s life which, sadly, was tumultuous. He had become estranged from his family. He was married to a woman who, at the time of the ceremony, was still married to her first husband and whose family, allegedly, later made threats against Ventura that we’re only now learning about. This includes allegations of armed men accosting Ventura at his home near the Royals spring training facility a year ago. An incident which led to him missing time due to “flulike symptoms,” but which, in reality, caused him considerable mental distress. He was again threatened, it is claimed, in Kansas City during the season. There is also an allegation that Ventura attempted suicide via an overdose of Benadryl, though that is disputed.
Beyond that, there is an arc to the end of Ventura’s life which sounds unfortunately familiar. It’s a story of a young man whose life changed dramatically in a very, very short period of time and who struggled at times to process the changes. Were it not for a fateful drive on a dark and winding road one night in late January, they all could’ve been things that, as his career matured, he could look back on as learning experiences. Now that he’s gone, however, they form the final, tragic chapter.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.