2. Manny Machado
Manny Machado has vaulted into a strong second for AL East third baseman. The one-time #3 pick in the first round of the 2010 draft has blossomed into a home run hitter. After a high of 14 coming into 2015, already his third full season in the big leagues at age 23, Machado rode a nine homer September to a total of 35 homers on the season. His youth can account for his previous lower total. Perhaps he was just getting used to the pitchers in the league.
In addition to setting career highs in all three average categories, batting average (.286), on-base percentage (.359) and slugging percentage (.502) Machado added another facet to his already impressive skill set. The Baltimore third baseman stole 20 bases on the season as well, after having a career high of just six coming into the season. For a guy who plays every day like Machado, 156 games in 2013 and 162 in 2015 sandwiched around an injury plagued 2014 of 82 games, there is a good chance the Orioles will slow him on the basepaths going forward to preserve his health. A strategist like his manager Buck Showalter will be sure to use him wisely as one of his most valuable players (4th in the A.L. MVP voting this season.)
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Machado is also spectacular in the field, winning his second Gold Glove in three years in 2015, while securing his second career All-Star nod. He has the arm to make long throws deep behind third base. Considering that ability and his Gold Gloves it would be a shock if he moved permanently back to his original shortstop position, though he made six starts there in 2015. Machado is sure to compete for the MVP perennially for the next decade.
Next: Evan Longoria