Can we go a little over the top here? OK, here goes: maybe we'll remember this just-concluded 7-4 Orioles road trip to the West Coast as the time where the legend of Manny Machado really took off.
Sure, he got lots of attention last season when the Orioles brought him up from the minors to play third base and the kid immediately solidified a shaky infield defense as the O's surged to 93 wins and their first playoff appearance since the Clinton administration.
But this season, not only is he playing great defense -- who comes in better on slow rollers down the line and makes a stronger snap throw than this guy? -- he's also hitting second in the batting order and delivering some big-time offense.
- Manny Machado
- Orioles in May [Pictures]
- Why isn't Manny Machado mentioned in the same breath as fellow phenoms Trout and Harper?
- Baseball players on the move this offseason
- Major League Baseball's 2014 winter meetings
- 36th annual OriolesREACH Holiday Party for Kids
See more photos »
- Los Angeles Angels
- Brooks Robinson
See more topics »
After hitting his fifth homer of the season in the Orioles' 8-4 win over the Angels on Sunday, Machado now has a .309 batting average with 20 RBIs and 19 runs scored in his last 25 games. And the rest of baseball -- as well as the national media -- is starting to talk about him as a budding superstar.
"I see a guy who knows he belongs and is absolutely playing that way," Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin said the other evening on ESPN's "Baseball Tonight."
Aaron Boone, Larkin's colleague and former major league infielder, added of Machado: "He's already one of the top three defensive third basemen in the game."
And when you've got Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson, the 16-time Gold Glover, singing your praises, you're definitely doing something right as you begin your first full season in the big leagues.
Pretty heady stuff for a 20-year-old kid, no question. To have the Human Vacuum Cleaner talking you up? Priceless.
What's impressing baseball fans across the country is the same thing that's impressed Orioles fans since Machado was called up: his seemingly boundless talent and his poise.
Listen to Machado talking to reporters after a big game, and you'd think you were listening to a 15-year-veteran with a couple of World Series rings. (He's even got the blase' attitude and just-doing-my-job cliches down pat.)
My colleague, Orioles beat writer Ed Encina, asks an interesting question in today's Orioles Insider blog post. (You can read it here.)
It's a great question. But if Machado stays healthy and keeps playing the way he's been playing, they'll be talking about him as a must-see player, too.
It seems to only be a matter of time.