Manny Machado's first few months of 2017 were not great, even if the Orioles managed to find some success despite his struggles. The third baseman hit just .215/.283/.418 through his first 80 games of the season, but managed to pick things up right before the All-Star break. Now, following a walkoff homer on Wednesday that moved the Orioles to just 3.5 games back of the Angels in the wild card race, Machado is batting .264/.318/.496.
It's not perfect, no, but he has more than five weeks of games left to keep improving that line. Machado has hit .352/.382/.636 with 12 homers in his last 42 games. He's clearly being a bit more aggresive at the plate, but it's just as obviously working for the 25-year-old.
He won't be able to completely repair the damage he did to his numbers over the first three months of the season unless he goes off on a Giancarlo Stanton-like tear for the rest of 2017, but so long as he looks more like the old Machado than the blip from the beginning of this season, his numbers will keep going up.
More important than the aesthetics of Machado's line, of course, are the Orioles' postseason chances. They aren't great — 3.5 back doesn't sound like a lot, but Baltimore is trailing the Twins, Angels, Mariners, and Rangers for a wild card spot while also sitting three games under .500. They have a 1.7 percent chance of winning the wild card, according to the odds published by MLB: that's not zero, at least, and having the dominant version of Machado back in tow is one way to improve your chances of beating the odds.
- Apparently, Rob Manfred and some players believe stealing signs is slowing down baseball games, and want to make the act against the rules. After some thought on the matter, Grant Brisbee isn't sure baseball really needs sign stealing.
- Poor Rich Hill. He had a perfect game going until an error in the ninth inning, and then he lost the no-hitter and the game in the 10th with a walkoff shot by Josh Harrison.
- Losing that game in extras means the Dodgers are still one win shy of 90, a chase that Eric Stephen detailed over at True Blue LA.
- Beyond the Box Score wrote about Jose Altuve and the stars we deserve: the ones who put the ball in play.
- Charlie Blackmon is having one of the best leadoff seasons ever, and not just for guys with huge beards.
- The Yankees removed Aroldis Chapman from the closer role, so now they're finally playing to their strength.
- The Orioles' rotation is bad. Here's a look at the rotation that could have been.
- Tropicana Field is definitely a trash heap, but its architecture gifted us with a pretty wonderful image of a home run.
- By the way, just because the Trop is a universally recognized dump doesn't mean local government and tax payers need to go out of their way to build a new stadium, despite what some local sportswriters might be saying.
- Guillermo Heredia was hit so hard by a pitch that the impact sounded like the crack of a bat.
- Gary Sanchez went out to lunch with Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez in a "big brother, little brother sit down" kind of meeting.
- Two Brewers' players managed to fit into a single pair of Jose Aguilar's pants.