Manny Machado

There was never much question that Manny Machado would eventually join the pantheon of great Orioles heroes, but nobody could have expected him to do it in his first full season in the major leagues. He was just 20 years old when the 2013 season began, and only 10 days into full adulthood when he played in his first All-Star Game. It isn't anything that Machado says or does off the field that makes him a fascinating figure. He's a fairly quiet guy who knows he still has some dues to pay before he can become a clubhouse leader. But his artistry at third base -- which is not his primary defensive position -- made him a regular in ESPN's "Web Gems" segment. No one, in fact, was featured more often. And this is not just a glove story. Manny led the American League in doubles, led the major leagues in at-bats and ranked seventh in the majors with 189 hits before suffering a severe knee injury during the final days of the season. He underwent surgery and could miss the first month of the 2014 schedule. It's a little early to start likening him to Brooks Robinson, but it's hard not to see some similarities when Machado flashes his amazing quickness and range at the hot corner. He was compared to Alex Rodriguez when he came out of high school in Miami, but he's got a chance to be one of a kind. Maybe the thing that makes him so intriguing is that he hasn't really revealed much about himself. He seems happy to remain out of the celebrity spotlight, at least for the moment, and to let his performance on the field define him.
Gene Sweeney Jr., Baltimore Sun
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