Manny Machado and Bryce Harper and Mike Trout

Patrick Smith

So I'm going to start writing something, and please chime in when you sense that I've gone terribly amiss ...

Last week I wrote about Manny Machado's record-setting doubles pace. Since then he's hit two more two-baggers, and remains well on pace to break Earl Webb's longstanding record of 67. Which got me to wondering over the week-end ... Have we given Machado short shrift, relative to his fellow youngsters? After all, while Machado might not have been the best of them last year, he was the youngest and he's been brilliant as anyone this year, right?

/ amiss

I mean, Machado's still only 20, while Harper's now 21 and Trout, at 22, is practically ancient.

/ seriously amiss

Yes, I know. Even if I've lost my memory, I can still look things up.

Trout's still just 21; he turns 22 in August. Harper's still only 20; he turns 21 in October ... a few months after Machado, who turns 21 in July. For ease of thinking, let's just pretend that Harper and Machado are exactly the same age, and Trout's exactly one year older. That's close enough to the truth for our purposes.

Which of course means that Machado doesn't get a "youth bonus", at least not relative to Harper. Both players do get bonuses for being a year younger than Trout, though. Here are all three of them, in order of OPS+ over these last two seasons:

167 Trout
130 Harper
119 Machado

Defense? Baserunning? The Wins Above Replacement rankings look exactly the same, with Trout holding a big edge over his junior colleagues.

Machado's doubles this season are incredibly impressive. His dozen walks in 52 games are not. Machado's defense at third base this season has been impressive. His five home runs have not.

Orioles fans think that Machado deserves to be considered, along with Trout and Harper, among today's great young players. Well, we've considered him and he deserves it. Considering the history of 20-year-old players with Machado's numbers, there's every reason to think he'll become a superstar. And that's especially true if he's able to return someday to his old shortstop position.

But there's just one Mike Trout, and there's just one Bryce Harper. To this point, those two still occupy classes of their own. Feel free to check back in a few months, though. By then I'll have probably forgotten most of this anyway.

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