Machado Hurting Reputation Not Free Agent Deal
Narratives can go a little too far. For example, the narrative was Carlos Beltran received his seven year $119 million deal from the Mets because he hit eight homers in the 2004 postseason. While that postseason run may have brought Beltran more name recognition, the fact is in 2004 Beltran hit .267/.367/.548 with 36 doubles, nine triples, 38 homers, and 104 RBI with 42 stolen bases.
No matter what Beltran did in the 2004 NLCS, he was going to cash in during free agency because he was a 27 year old MVP level player who promised to win Silver Sluggers and Golden Gloves.
This is the same situation Dodgers SS Manny Machado finds himself this NLCS. At just 25 years old, he is already one of the arguably 10 best players in the game, and with him entering his prime years, he could be much more than that. He is coming off a season where he hit .297/.367/.538 with 35 doubles, three triples, 37 homers, and 101 RBI. He’s already won Gold Gloves at third base, and once he joined a more analytical friendly Dodgers organization, his defensive metrics at shortstop improved substantially.
Like with Beltran, the 2018 NLCS should have proven to be a springboard for Machado into free agency. With him hitting .353/.389/.588 through the first four games of this series, the talk about him on the field isn’t about his hitting, it’s about how he plays the game.
In Game 3, Machado helped kill a potential rally in a 1-0 game by making an obviously illegal slide. What made the slide all the worse was the fact it was not necessary as Cody Bellinger was likely going to be safe anyway. However, with the slide, it was a double play clearing the bases thereby stymieing any potential rally:
.@Brewers challenge call that Manny Machado did not violate slide rule at 2B in the 4th; call overturned, violation.
— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) October 16, 2018
While we do not know what could have happened after that play, we can say the slide mattered in a game where the Dodgers lost 4-0 and fell behind in the series 2-1.
Last night, we saw yet another arguably dirty play from Machado. During a 10th inning groundout, Machado went Kobra Kai, and he swept Jesus Aguilar‘s foot off of first base.
ICYMI: Things got heated between Manny Machado and Jesús Aguilar late in Game 4 of the NLCS. pic.twitter.com/jz6HwCMaYw
— ESPN (@espn) October 17, 2018
The play is up for debate as Aguilar’s foot is well out of position, but still, Machado went out of his way to kick Aguilar’s foot off the base on what was really a routine groundout. Despite, no one being injured, the play was certainly not well received by the Brewers or many fans still watching the game.
Even if Machado is a dirty player, it is not like that is going to hurt his value this offseason. After all, dirty players throughout history like Pete Rose, or Machado’s current teammate Chase Utley, have been in demand because they produced on the field. It also helped that Rose and Utley were seen as hard nosed players who would do anything to beat you. That is something Machado has put into question during the NLCS.
With the Dodgers down 1-0 in the series against an insanely hot Brewers team who had won 12 in a row, the Dodgers arguably need to pull out all the stops to stem the tide and even up the series. With the game tied 0-0 in the fourth inning of Game 2, Machado grounded out to short, and he did not hustle to first base. To put it more succinctly, he loafed it over there. This caused many to question if Machado won’t hustle in the NLCS, when exactly will he hustle. Machado’s response? He’s not “Johnny Hustle.”
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 17, 2018
The unabashed refusal to hustle and his arguably dirty plays have certainly caused Machado’s reputation to take a hit in some circles. It has actually gotten to the point where some people are beginning to question how much it will affect the contract Machado will get in free agency.
The answer to that question is Machado will not receive one less penny than he otherwise would have had these issues not emerged during the NLCS. Teams are going to line up for a 26 year old shortstop who can hit 30+ homers a year. They will want one of the best players in the game entering his prime. And wherever Machado goes, he will drastically improve his team.
Look, the fact is while we all want players to hustle, we want them to produce on the field all the more. Even with the lack of hustle, Machado is a great player, and if he were to join the Mets, he would instantly become their best position player. It wouldn’t even be close. Even for those most disturbed by his lack of hustle, we should all invite the opportunity to criticize him for it during the NLCS because make no mistake here. If the Mets get Machado, they’re a postseason team, and with that pitching, they’re going to go deep in the postseason.
Hustle, no hustle. Just sign Machado.