I was thinking about this the other day. Who would you rather have: Baltimore Orioles shortstop Manny Machado or Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper? Both stars are set to become free agents after this season, and both are expected to receive contracts north of $300 million.You can’t go wrong with either player. Both all-stars, both middle-of-the-order bats. They also come with plus defense.
Over the past few years, Harper has garnered the most attention of any of the 2019 free agents, but it is a much safer bet to pay Machado instead of the Nationals outfielder.
Despite Harper being directly in the spotlight, Machado has as high of a ceiling as the 25-year-old from Nevada. Machado has shown the capability to play Gold Glove defense at both third base and shortstop, using his range and rocket arm to flash his greatness.
At the plate Machado has not been as elite, but his natural right-handed swing has helped him hit major league pitching at an all-star level. Over his 7 year career, Machado has a 162 game average of 30 homers, a .282 batting average, and an .817 OPS.
Comparing Machado’s batting to Harper’s, their stats are very similar. Harper, also 25-years-old playing in his 7th season, averages 33 dingers, a .902 OPS, and a .281 average over a 162 game season. Still, Harper’s averages could be skewed by his MVP year of 2015 where he hit .330.
Then again, Harper has the potential to have those MVP seasons over and over again. He hit 29 homers last year in only 111 games and already has 16 in 52 2018 games.
Another thing to consider in the Machado Harper debate is injuries. Harper could already be considered injury prone at 25, only playing in over 140 games twice in his career. On the other hand, Machado has had his share of knee issues, but he only missed significant time in 2014. Other than that he has been a model of consistency by constantly playing in over 150 games.
So if you are a team looking to snatch up an MLB superstar this offseason, who do you pick? The defensive ace that can hit 35-40 homers with plus average, or the phenom right fielder who can hit 50 bombs but is more prone to hitting near .240? It is a tough call, but no matter what both players are going to be paid handsomely this offseason.
-Jarrod Ribaudo (@Jribs53)