A lot of spring training focus, especially early, is spent on hitters as the return of baseball means the return of dingers. And, no doubt, they’re fun to watch. I watched Mike Trout‘s first spring round-tripper on Monday at least 10 times.
But we’re in a pretty special era of baseball now as there are some prolific defenders. Trout, of course, is one of them with his penchant for robbing home runs. New Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons is on track for an historic defensive career with at least 25 runs above average in each of the last three seasons according to Baseball Reference. Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier had one of the best defensive seasons ever at any position.
Then there’s Manny Machado who, by virtue of his position, sometimes brings back memories of umpteen-time Gold Glove Award winner and former Oriole Brooks Robinson. Machado is big, listed at 6’3″, 185 pounds. He’s deceptively agile at the hot corner with a strong and accurate arm. Some third basemen have comparable range to Machado but lack the arm strength to capitalize on it, which is what makes the 23-year-old so good.
That was all on display Tuesday afternoon as the Orioles took on the Red Sox in Grapefruit League action. In the top of the fifth inning, Chris Young hit a sharp grounder down the third base line. Machado adroitly snagged the ball and whipped, seemingly effortlessly, the ball across the diamond to first base for the second out of the inning. He makes it look so easy. The live camera angle doesn’t do him much justice, but the replay certainly shows how difficult a play it was.
[mlbvideo id=”548843383″ width=”600″ height=”336″ /]