As soon as the Baltimore Orioles snatched up Manny Machado with the third overall pick of the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft, the comparisons began in earnest. Machado, everyone seems to agree, has a future as a big-league star. He stand six-foot-two and weighs 180 pounds, though he will not turn 19 until July. In a brief 2010 stint with the Low-A Aberdeen Ironbirds of the New York-Penn League, he hit .345/.406/.448. He is going to have the sheer hit tool and the power to be an All-Star no matter where he plays, and he has the arm, anyway, to stick at shortstop.
Machado does invite Rodriguez comparisons in some senses. Rodriguez’s open stance with feet close together are clearly in evidence, and even the level, wristy finish to the swing is there.He also so happens to be a Latino shortstop out of Miami with power and an easy smile, so people have drawn a lot of connections that simply aren’t there.
Machado will eb a star, it’s true. But Rodriguez was and is a one-in-a-generation athlete. He played shortstop exceptionally well for a full decade in the big leagues. Despite hsi size, he maintained great lateral movement and generally looked smooth all the time. He put relay throws right on the first baseman’s mitt and his flips to second to start double plays were always crisp and natural. Not so for Machado.
Rodriguez also ran like the wind early in his career, and in total, he has stolen 301 bases in his career. Machado has A-Rod‘s size, but not the same elite athleticism. He is never going to steal 20 bases in MLB; he might not ever steal 10. He will eventually need to move to thrid base, and that move will come much sooner than that of Rodriguez.
Look, I know people are suspicious of Rodriguez in light of his admitted HGH use, and I know how much everyone loves a Hallof Fame player to whom they can compare an elite prospect. But if Machado were really the kind of top-20 all-time player that Rodriguez is, wouldbn’t he have been at least in the running to be chosen first in the Draft? This guy will be a great player someday. He’ll be an All-Star third baseman, maybe an Evan Longoria type. But he will never be Alex Rodriguez.