Bryce Harper vs. Manny Machado: Friday Faceoff

MLB reports:  For even the most casual baseball fan, the name Bryce Harper should sound alarm bells.  Considered by many experts to be the equivalent of the next Sidney Crosby in hockey, LeBron James in basketball and Peyton Manning in football, Harper is the next “big thing” in baseball.

A five-tool player in baseball is one that is able to hit for a high average, power, strong base running and speed, throwing well and fielding his position.  From all accounts, Harper is all of the above…and more.  If reports are accurate, Harper has Josh Hamilton type tools, which rarely comes around more than once in a lifetime.

Haper is all of 18 years of age, stands 6’3″ and weighs 225 lbs.  A catcher in his days at the College of Southern Nevada JC, Harper has started in pro career as an outfielder.  Drafted first overall in the 2010 draft by the Washington Nationals, Harper currently plays in the Class A South Atlantic league for the Hagerstown Suns.  Harper was the 2010 Golden Spikes Award winner as the top amateur player in the nation.

Going into today’s action, here are Bryce Harper’s 2011 statistics:

BRYCE HARPER:

2011 Season
Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
HAG SAL .323 19 62 14 20 5 0 5 18 40 11 17 4 2 .425 .645 1.070

In all the talk of Bryce Harper, a very talented shortstop by the name of Manuel (“Manny”) Machado seems to get lost in the shuffle.  Machado was drafted 3rd overall in 2010 by the Orioles.  At 18 years of age, Machado also stands 6’3″ but weighs 185 lbs.  Machado signed early with the Orioles and made his professional debut with short season Aberdeen in 2010.  Born in Florida, the Alex Rodriguez comparison whispers have already started with Machado.

19 games into the season, here are Machado’s 2011 statistics with the Delmarva Shorebirds of the Class A  South Atlantic League:

MANNY MACHADO:

2011 Season
Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
DEL SAL .315 19 73 16 23 6 2 3 15 42 13 11 1 1 .420 .575 .996

With such close proximity between Washington and Baltimore, it is likely that Machado and Harper will be facing comparisons in the minds of fans of the Nationals and Orioles for years to come.  While both are off to strong seasons in Class A, it appears that Harper has displayed the slightly stronger bat to-date.  Harper has hit more home runs, although Machado has hit more triples and struck out less.  Harper also stolen more bases and has the higher overall OPS.

One interesting difference I did find between the players are their home/road splits.  Although from a small sample size, a little more difference begins to emerge between the players when viewed:

HARPER:

Entire Season AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
vs Left .318 22 1 7 2 0 0 5 3 7 2 1 .400 .409 .809
vs Right .325 40 13 13 3 0 5 13 8 10 2 1 .438 .775 1.213
Home Games .381 7 21 9 8 2 0 2 9 5 5 2 0 .500 .762 1.262
Away Games .293 12 41 5 12 3 0 3 9 6 12 2 2 .383 .585 .968

MACHADO:

Entire Season AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
vs Left .333 9 3 3 1 0 0 2 4 2 0 0 .538 .444 .983
vs Right .313 64 13 20 5 2 3 13 9 9 1 1 .400 .594 .994
Home Games .385 11 39 9 15 4 1 3 10 10 7 1 1 .510 .769 1.279
Away Games .235 8 34 7 8 2 1 0 5 3 4 0 0 .308 .353 .661

While both players exhibit stronger bats at home, Machado’s numbers are drastically lower on the road.  As a younger player, this is not abnormal and a sign that he is still developing as a hitter.  On the other hand, Harper’s strong numbers on the road shows maturity beyond his years.  With such dominance at home and on the road, it does not appear that Harper can be stopped anywhere.  While AA is on the horizon for both players, I would suspect that Harper will reach the next level a little sooner.

The Verdict:

Playing the same number of games in the same league, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado have showcased that both are superstars in the making.  Machado plays a more gruelling position (shortstop) and while both are known for their great gloves, Harper’s cannon in the outfield is the talk of the scouting world.  As each continues to advance up the ranks to reach the major leagues, we will learn one day if each has what it takes to be a bona fide superstar.  We have two very good ones in the making, but the reviews and reports on Harper are too hard to ignore.  The baseball world loves this kid and for great reason: he really appears to be the real deal.  While much attention will unfortunately be deflected from Manny Machado as he continues to build his resume, it may serve to help him in the long run.  Playing in the shadow of a prospect like Harper, Machado can develop his skills without as much pressure and expectations from both the media and fans.  While I fully expect to see each both succeed, Harper has the added requirement to develop while being thrust fully in the limelight.  The smart money still lies on Harper and I fully expect that he will one of the next biggest superstars in baseball.  But don’t count out Manny Machado, who together with Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and Nick Markakis should bring the Baltimore Orioles back to greatness.

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Posted on April 29, 2011, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I am looking forward to seeing both these players, but think Harper has more upside. Both will be star players and will be exciting players to watch in a few years. Great article.

  1. Pingback: Hot News As It Happens » Bryce Harper Stats

  2. Pingback: Team USA: Preview of the 2011 MLB All-Star Futures Game « MLB reports

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