Will Manny Machado's Move to the Dodgers Enhance His Fantasy Baseball Outlook?
After weeks of speculation and an All-Star Break filled with trade rumors swirling like used hot dog wrappers at old Candlestick Park, the long-awaited Manny Machado trade has finally been made official.
In the midst of a career season, the 26-year-old has been dealt from the Baltimore Orioles to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for five prospects from the deep L.A. farm system. It appears to be a good deal for both sides -- the Dodgers get a two-month replacement for the injured Corey Seager, landing the only true superstar rental on the trade market, and the O's got some badly needed prospects for their system, including stud outfielder Yusniel Diaz.
For fantasy owners, this deal has implications for Machado's offensive numbers. While he will now hit in a lineup full of stars, he also will play his home games in a more difficult park for hitters. How will these changes affect his fantasy value moving forward?
First, let's talk about Manny's season so far. In short, he's been nothing short of fantastic.
In 96 games (413 plate appearances), he's posting a career high in just about every offensive category, including batting average (.315), on-base percentage (.387), slugging percentage (.575), isolated power (.260), wOBA (.400) and wRC+ (156). He has 24 home runs, just 13 short of his career-high of 37, which he did in 2016, with 65 RBIs, 48 runs scored and 7 stolen bases -- all while playing shortstop, a premier position in fantasy. He also holds eligibility at third base, further improving his value.
Machado leads all MLB shortstops in wOBA, wRC+, OBP, and slugging, and he is 2nd in home runs and RBIs. Manny is also walking at a career high clip of 10.9%, the first time he's ever hit double figures in walk rate, all while decreasing his strikeout rate to a career low of 12.3%.
He's improved in virtually every area of his game in 2018, and he has been a truly elite shortstop in fantasy this season.
A Better Lineup
It's eye-opening that Machado has been able to do all this in the middle of an Orioles lineup that has scored the second-fewest runs in baseball this year.
The O's have the worst team batting average (.227) and worst on-base percentage (.290) with the fifth-worst slugging percentage (.379). Their .290 team wOBA is tied for last, as is their team wRC+ of 81.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, are tied for 17th in team batting average (.244), rank 9th in OBP (.325), and 6th in slugging (.429), with a team wOBA of .325 that is 8th-best in baseball and a wRC+ of 106 that is tied for 4th-best. They've scored 453 runs this year. That's the 9th-most in the Majors, and it's 108 more runs than Baltimore has plated.
Machado will be moving from a lineup that features the worst hitter in baseball, Chris Davis, as well as Jonathan Schoop, Trey Mancini, Adam Jones and Mark Trumbo, to a lineup that includes Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner, Max Muncy, Matt Kemp, Joc Pederson, and Yasmani Grandal. That should mean more run-scoring and RBI opportunities for Manny in L.A.
However, one negative consequence could be a switch in home ballparks.
Baltimore has historically been a good environment for offense, while Dodger Stadium has been more friendly to pitchers. This year, the struggling O's offense has brought down some of that park's overall numbers, but by Park Factor, according to ESPN, Camden Yards is still more favorable to offense than Dodger Stadium.
In 2018, Camden Yards has the 15th-friendliest run-scoring environment in baseball, right in the middle of the pack, while Dodger Stadium is ranked 25th. As far as home runs are concerned, Baltimore is the fourth-easiest park in which to hit dingers, while Dodger Stadium is seventh.
One final area we need to touch on is Machado's splits.
In Baltimore this season, Manny is batting .360/.448/.691 with an OPS of 1.140, 17 homers and 7 doubles. On the road, he's batting .274/.329/.468 for an OPS of .797, with 7 bombs and 14 doubles.
This isn't just a one-year thing, either. For his career, Machado owns a .377 wOBA at home and a .324 wOBA on the road.
Maybe Machado will hit the ground running in his new "home" park, but this is at least something to watch, given the better run-scoring environment of Camden Yards.
Moving forward, we project Machado to have the second-best second half of any shortstop in fantasy, behind only Francisco Lindor. We see Manny hitting .292 the rest of the way with an OPS of .952, 16 homers, 43 RBIs and 39 runs scored.
You're not trading Machado anywhere -- he's your shortstop -- but it might be wise to add a little more offense to your squad as insurance for a potential slight slide in production from Manny as he moves to L.A.
Playing in a lineup with better players should help, and as we've seen with the Dodgers lineup, playing in Los Angeles does not always suppress offensive numbers.
Expect Machado's numbers to dip a bit, but you should have confidence that he will remain one of the two most valuable offensive shortstops in fantasy for the rest of the season.