Manny Machado's 2017 Season Was Incredibly Unlucky

The availability of the Baltimore Orioles' third baseman is a hot topic at the Winter Meetings. He's coming off a down year, but a lot of it was due to rotten luck.

One never knows how seriously to take rumors that come from the lobbies of Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings. So many rumors are simply the result of team executives or players' agents trying to send messages to each other through the media. But none of them can be discounted out of hand, especially when they make some sense.

A recent report claims the Philadelphia Phillies have shown interest in trading for Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado. Other reports have thrown a bit of cold water on that report, but there is apparently real interest by a number of teams in landing the 25-year-old star. And they should be since Machado is one of the game's premier players.

After putting together back-to-back monster seasons in 2015 and 2016, Machado did have a down season in 2017 -- at least compared to his career trajectory. Was it a fluke or are there some troubling trends?

Here's a season-by-season look at Machado's big-league numbers. In the table below, you can see his walk rate (BB%), strikeout rate (K%), on-base percentage (OBP), home runs (HR) weighted runs created (wRC+) and Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement (WAR).


Machado's slash line numbers took a big hit last season thanks to a brutal first half in which he batted .230/.296/.445 with a wRC+ of 92. But he was better in the second half (.290/.326/.500), posting a wRC+ of 114 with his line-drive rate going from 13.9% before the All-Star break to 17.6% after.

Much of his first half struggles were due to bad luck. Overall, Machado had a batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .265 last season. The league average was .300. He was unfortunate all year, but that was especially true early on. In the first half, his BABIP was .239, and it normalized slightly to .290 in the second half.

Incredibly, Machado's 39.5% hard-hit rate last season was a career-best mark, so there was a lot of rotten luck at play with his 2017 numbers.

Also encouraging were his strikeout and walk numbers, both of which were better in 2017 than they were in 2016. Machado also adds a ton of value with his defense. He was worth 6 defensive runs saved last year, tied for seventh-most among qualified third basemen.

Machado is in the final year of his deal and is expected to land a huge contract when he hits the free agent market after the 2018 season. Despite an fWAR that was about four wins fewer than what he posted each of the previous two seasons, it's easy to see why he's such a hot commodity at the Winter Meetings in Orlando, and why any team looking to acquire him will have to give up plenty to do so.