Manny Machado is making his first career start at shortstop

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As a minor leaguer Manny Machado was an elite shortstop prospect, but because the Orioles had J.J. Hardy there when he arrived in 2012 they shifted Machado to third base and he’s stayed there ever since.

Machado has developed into an MVP-caliber third baseman and not surprisingly his excellent defense there has been a huge part of his overall value, but tonight for the first time in his career the Orioles are starting him at shortstop.

Hardy was placed on the disabled list with a groin injury last week and manager Buck Showalter has decided he’d rather use Machado at a position he hasn’t played since 2012 than continue to use Ryan Flaherty and Paul Janish at shortstop fill-ins. Or at least that’s the case for one night.

Machado showing that he can be an above-average defensive shortstop would increase his already massive long-term value even further, although with Hardy signed through 2017 it’s likely just a short-term fix for the Orioles unless it leads to an offseason trade.

Ramón Laureano made an absolutely ridiculous play yesterday

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I talked about it in the recaps, but dear lord does Oakland A’s outfielder Ramón Laureano’s play in yesterday’s game against the Blue Jays deserve it’s own post.

Jays first baseman Justin Smoak led off the second with a single Then Teoscar Hernández then came up and hit a long drive to center. In what, in and of itself, would’ve lead the highlight reels yesterday, Laureano ranged back to the wall and reached over to rob Hernández of a homer.

Laureano is known best for his arm, though, and that’s when he unleashed that hose, attempting to double off Smoak at first base all the way from the warning track. The throw was not on target — indeed, it sailed way past first base — but that was itself impressive as all get-out. As A’s pitcher Brett Anderson said after the game, he’s pretty sure the throw went farther than Hernández hit the ball in the first place. The arm strength on display there was simply phenomenal. But it was also lucky.

Lucky because the throw went so far into foul territory that it gave Smoak the courage to break for second base. Laureano was not the only one playing great defense on the play, though: A’s catcher Nick Hundley backed up the play, got Laureano’s errant throw and fired it down to second, nailing Smoak. And heck, Hundley’s throw was nothing to sneeze at either:

That did not go as an outfield assist for Lauerano, obviously, as his bad throw — which would’ve been an error had Smoak managed to advance, we must admit — broke that up. So, in the books it goes as an F7 and then a separate 2-4 putout. Still, it just shows Laueano’s incredible defensive abilities, both with the leather and with that cannon he has for an arm.

An arm that, this play not withstanding, gets him plenty of assists. Indeed, he has has five assists this season already and has 14 assists in just 70 games, which is a lot. To put it in perspective, it usually takes somewhere between 12-18 to lead the league in a full season with 20 being an outlier of sorts, only seen once every five years or so.

So, if you’re gonna hit it to center against the A’s, make sure you hit it all the way out. And if Laureano gets to it, for god’s sake, don’t run on him.