Despite the (untrue) notion that Andrew Friedman is a prospect hoarder, he once again delivered a star to the Dodgers at the trade deadline. This time in the form of Manny Machado. Though his tenure with the Dodgers in 2018 was short, he was still to leave an impression on fans.
The Dodgers’ best player was ripped from their grasps with the season-ending injury to shortstop Corey Seager. After the injury, questions were aplenty. Nobody knew how far this team would make it without Seager, or if they would even sniff the playoffs.
Luckily the team stepped up and was able to keep themselves in the hunt heading into the all-star break. Thus, incentivizing Friedman to make a big move. That move was a trade for Manny Machado in exchange for one of the Dodgers’ top prospects, Yusniel Diaz.
His arrival came with a ton of buzz and anticipation. As a whole, if you just took a glance at his numbers from his time with the Dodgers, it may seem a bit underwhelming. However, the bar was already set tremendously high with his great first half with the Orioles.
A plethora of factors played into this underwhelming stint with the Dodgers. For example, just the natural regression for most players over the second half of the season. Baseball is hard, it gets even harder as the season progresses while players start to accumulate dinks and minor injuries.
Second, Machado moved from the uber hitter-friendly ballpark Camden Yards to the pitcher-friendly Chavez Ravine. It was noticeable with his reactions that players needed an extra bit of power to put a ball in the seats. Even squaring a ball up perfectly did not guarantee a long ball in the marine layer that hovers over Los Angeles.
Another factor was just the shock and awe of moving from a team that was dead in the water to the reigning National League champs in the midst of an intense playoff race.
Nonetheless, Machado had a solid tenure with the Dodgers. He came up clutch in San Francisco as the Dodgers fought for their playoff lives. While in Los Angeles Machado had a .338 OBP and .487 slugging percentage. Machado also played spectacular defense for the Dodgers. After the jury was out on his defense at shortstop, Machado was a wizard with the glove. Minor positional adjustments by the Dodgers’ coaching staff proved to play a huge role in his success on defense.
Manny Machado created a lot of controversy in the postseason. Whether it was his “Johnny Hustle” comments or his dirty plays, controversy seemed to follow the current free agent. Along with his antics, Machado also had some pretty good moments in the playoffs.
In the game two of the NLDS, he provided two of the Dodgers three runs and behind Kershaw’s gem that was enough to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the NLDS.
In the series-clinching game four of the NLDS, Machado started the scoring with a 2-out RBI double setting the tone for the Dodgers. Machado later iced the game in the 7th inning with a 3-run jimmy jack into the left field bleachers.
Machado started game one of the NLCS with a bang as he hit a frozen rope line drive over the fence to put the Dodgers up early. In game 7 he provided one of the more underrated moments of the postseason as he laid down a beautiful drag bunt in the second inning on a 3-2 count. This led to a Bellinger 2-run bomb that put the Dodgers up 2-1.
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Game one of the World Series Machado delivered 3 RBI’s in a losing effort. However, that would be it for his success in that series. Much like the rest of the Dodgers, Machado was quiet for the remainder of the five game series.
Machado delivered in some key moments for the Dodgers in the post-season. He may have raised some eyebrows with some of his on and off the field antics, but he was productive for the most part.
His acquisition can be viewed as a success. He joined a team that was in a heated playoff race and ultimately was a key contributor to their eventual playoff run. It’s hard to view this as a failure for Machado just because they didn’t win the title. The entire team was just overmatched against the 108 win Red Sox who had knocked off two one hundred win teams en route to the AL Pennant.
Maybe Machado was not as spectacular as he was in Baltimore during the first half but he was a huge help to a team that was boom or bust. However, the great Vin Scully has a perfect quote for this “Good is not good when better is expected”.
Though Machado’s short time in Los Angeles was not perfect, it was productive. He would be a great pick up this free agency if the Dodgers choose to do so. Machado would not only be big short term but also long term with the aging Justin Turner manning 3rd base at the moment. Machado’s 2018 in Los Angeles was solid overall, just not as great as many expected.