The last memory baseball fans have of the Baltimore Orioles' Manny Machado is him writhing in pain after twisting his knee running out a play at first base. It appears fantasy experts have that same memory, as well, considering how low they have him ranked heading into 2014.
I can understand trusting the "experts" and assuming Machado will still be around 110 picks into a draft. However, you'd better hope there aren't any Orioles fans in your league, because anyone who followed Manny's 2013 season and witnessed the extraordinary talent he possesses will be picking him far earlier than that.
For all you non-O's fans out there, let me explain why you should reach for Machado in your draft this year.
Did you watch that clip? If not, go ahead and watch it now. I'll wait. If you did, you probably want to watch it again, so I'll wait for you guys, too.
While a play like that isn't going to help you win your fantasy league, it shows how naturally gifted Manny Machado is. He possesses the kind of talent that makes it impossible to predict what he'll do next. We have no idea what he's capable of.
Seriously, though, did anyone "project" that Machado would win a Gold Glove in his first full season playing third base? Or that he'd lead the American League in doubles as a 21-year-old?
When it comes to Manny Machado, projections are meaningless. So instead of looking at those, consider these facts instead.
His home run numbers could explode at any time
Last season, Machado hit just 14 home runs. However, he also hit 51 doubles. As he continues to gain experience and begins to grow into his frame, a lot of those doubles are going to turn into home runs. That could happen as soon as 2014.
His swing is so long and possesses so much drive that the ball comes off with a lot of backspin, enabling him to hit into the gaps routinely. In the following two clips are two perfect examples of this. With some added strength, those could both very well be homers this season.
The Orioles have arguably the best lineup in baseball
Last season, the Orioles led MLB in home runs by a huge margin. Then they added Nelson Cruz this offseason. Am I crazy to assume they'll be at the front of the pack again this season? Honestly, I think I'd be crazy if I didn't.
So, needless to say, Machado will have some solid protection behind him in the lineup again. Machado will presumably hit in the 2-slot yet again, with Chris Davis and Adam Jones behind him. Cruz will probably slide into the 5-slot.
He's already one of the best players in MLB and on the road to stardom
Don't let the fantasy ranking fool you. Manny Machado is already one of the best players in baseball. His injury and the fact that he's young have contributed to his ranking being where it is, but any true baseball fan understands his talent.
They also understand his potential.
If you are in a keeper league and you don't find a way to draft this kid, you'll be constantly reminded of your mistake. There is no reason to think he can't become a .300/35/100 player in the near future. Don't pass that up.
His injury is not as bad as it looked
When Machado went down last season, it looked terrible. Anyone watching that game immediately thought the worst.
However, it didn't end up being nearly as bad as it appeared to be. In fact, some reports are saying he might even be ready for Opening Day.
We should take that with a grain of salt, considering the conflicting reports...
But the fact that it's even a possibility should clear up any concern you might have about his injury completely derailing his season.
Machado is going to be a stud once again in 2014. Forget the projections, disregard the metrics and simply admire the natural talent. Then draft him.