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Orioles' third baseman Manny Machado looks to play a larger role in 2013.
2013 Predictions: .268/20/70
One of the most surprising moves the Orioles made in 2012 was the decision to bring up 20-year-old shortstop prospect Manny Machado...to play third base.
With the AL East race still a tight one between the Orioles and Yankees, Baltimore saw calling up of Machado as a way to provide a much-needed spark for the organization.
Looking at Machado's offensive numbers, you won't find anything impressive over the first 51 games of his career. At the plate, Machado looked every bit the rookie he was, but for a team that struggled all season at the third-base position, Machado's rookie numbers sufficed for the Orioles.
In a move that ESPN writer David Schoenfield called the "best move of the year," Machado's call up affected the Orioles' push for the postseason in a way that goes beyond batting averages and fielding percentages, although Machado did hold his own at the hot corner last season.
Following the call up of Machado, the Orioles closed out the season with a 33-18 record. Sure, you can't attribute the Orioles remarkable late season push just to Machado, but at the very least he gave a nice preview of what the Orioles could be getting out of the youngster in his first full big league season.
Machado couldn't have started off his career any better. Machado came to the Orioles and immediately posted a four-game hit streak in which he hit .375 with three homers and seven RBI. In that four-game span Machado had more extra base hits (five) than he did singles (one).
Machado eventually leveled off and finished the regular season with a .262 average, seven home runs and 26 RBI, but has left the Orioles' front office and fans alike excited for the 2013 season.
Machado isn't going to garner the attention that Mike Trout or Bryce Harper do early on in his career, but with a little bit of experience, he could very well be a highly talked-about player for years to come.