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.
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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.