When you’re talking about two players expected to make over $30 million you know you’re talking about two elite talents. Both players weakest attributes are better than 80% of other players strengths. Players like Machado and Harper are top tier talents and it is rare that players like them become available especially at an age as young as 26. These two players are very similar in their talent but also shine in their different ways. In this article I will give a grade for each player in different attributes and characteristics. Surprisingly, even though Harper is known as being more injury prone these two players have played almost the same exact amount of games, Harper played 926 and Machado played 927 so the comparisons will use the same sample size.
In a game that is pitcher dominant these two players still kill the baseball. Both players have enjoyed a great amount of success offensively since they joined the league so to make it easier lets break it down from a statistical approach. Although Harper is known as more of a power threat he averages 26 home runs a season compared to Machado who averages a very similar 25 home runs per season. As for batting average they are also very similar Harper is lifetime .279 hitter and Machado is a .282. As if that isn’t crazy enough they are also very similar in RBIs with Harper average 74 a season and Machado averaging 73. However, there are a couple of of statistics make each player standout. With Harper it is his ability to get on base and his raw power Harper has a life time .388 OBP%, which is just ridiculous. That ranks 6th in the league since 2012 and the only people in front of him are Votto, Trout, Goldschmidt, Aaron Judge, and Miguel Cabrera, all potential Hall of Famers. Even with Harper only averaging 26 home runs a season it has not stopped him from showing off his raw power. Harper has a lifetime .512 SLG% which is a statistic that takes into consideration doubles, triples, and home runs. Harper ranks 19th in the league in this category. Machado is still a powerful hitter and his .487 SLG% shows that. However, Machado does not walk much he only has a lifetime .335 OBP% which is over 50 point drop compared to Harper. The statistic that really pushes Harper over Machado though is WRc+. This statistic takes into consideration the ballparks they play in and gives an overall view of basically how many runs a certain player is creating for a team. 100 is the average WRc+ and Machado averages 120 and Harper averages 140. That is 20 more runs that Harper is adding to your offense because of his plate discipline and power. Both players are well above average offensively and will help the Phillies no matter what but for this category Harper is the man.
Bryce Harper: A
Manny Machado: B+
There is no statistic out there that can convince anyone that the Phillies were a good defensive team last year. So bringing in either of these players will help us out tremendously. Obviously they both play two different positions but the Phillies needed defensive help in basically every position. Let’s start with our winner from the category before, Bryce Harper. Harper can has shown the ability to play every outfield position and recent reports have came out from Scott Boras that Harper can also play first base. The ability of Harper playing first base is actually a very big deal. As players get older teams usually want to move players to positions that require less mobility like first base or Designated Hitter. Some examples are Joe Mauer, Ryan Braun, and Victor Martinez. So if Harper can play first base in the later years of his contract when he is 35 and older the Phillies can use him at first base to help reduce the risk of injury. We ony have statistics of him in the outfield so that is what we will evaluate. Harper has never won a Gold Glove but he has never been known as a weak defender. Harper has career DRS, which stands for Defensive Runs Saved, of 2. So it is nothing crazy but it is good to know that he is saving more runs than he is allowing. Another positive approach to this is that the numbers are heavily skewed because he struggled very heavily in Right and Center but before last season he has been very strong in the DRS statistic. Harper is a lot more confident in Right or Left field which is where he would primarily play here in Philadelphia and since the Phillies outfielder with the highest DRS was Aaron Altherr and Roman Quinn with 1 each I think Harper will definitely help us defensively. As for Machado you know you are getting an elite defender and the best part is he can play Shortstop or Third Base as well. Machado already 2 Gold Gloves at Third Base and will more than likely grab a couple more Gold Gloves by the end of his career. Remember how I said Harper’s DRS of 3 was still positive? Machado has a DRS of 84. That number is ridiculous and ranks 6th in the MLB since 2012. Just like Harper, Machado struggled defensively when switching positions and if it wasn’t for that Machado probably would be top 3 in DRS and possibly could have secured another Gold Glove. Another interesting statistic is on plays that are very unlikely which means there is between a 10%-40% of the play being made Machado makes the play 46.4% of the time. That number ranks 13th in the MLB and is a lot higher than Harper who only makes those plays 28.9% of the time. The winner of this category seems pretty obvious.
Bryce Harper: B-
Manny Machado: A+
Obviously this is not a statistical category but it is still very important in the building of a championship team. If a player causes clubhouse drama or has a problem with the fans their talent doesn’t do much, I mean look at Jonathan Papelbon. I want to start with Machado because I want to clear something up. The hustling thing is bad, like really bad, he straight up said he does not like to hustle. We know as Philadelphia fans that we love people that hustle a prime example is TJ McConnell. Although, before that strange interview there has never been a question or whisper about Manny Machado’s hustle he always played the game hard. As for him being a dirty player, there was reports that apparently a couple of players told Jesus Aguilar to stop standing on top of the base so Machado stepped on his leg to get the point across. This apparently fired up the dugout and built a leadership role for Machado. Now obviously whether he did it for his team or not it was wrong to do but the idea was there. As Philadelphia fans though we defend our players as long as they deliver. So if Machado hustles, plays how we expect, and does not taunt us after blowing a game Philadelphia will support Machado and he will become a fan favorite. As for Harper he is everything teammates and a fan base wants. He’s a leader, he’s a gritty player, and he’s an incredible talent. Harper brings a winners mentality to the ballpark every day and there is no question on his hustle. If anything, sometime he plays too hard to the point it could result in injury. Harper is already friendly with Rhys Hoskins so I think he would fit in well in the club house. This team needs a leader, we had some players like Santana and Hoskins that tried taking the role but it never was really set it stone. If Harper came here he would be a leader and a positive impact on the team right away.
Bryce Harper: A+
Manny Machado: B-
This part of the decision should not make a huge difference for the Phillies considering we have too much money to spend. Let’s start with Harper since he has already been offered a contract. Harper was recently offered a 10 year $300 million contract from the Nationals and he declined it. So I think it is safe to say that he will cost at least over $32.5 million a year and possibly for more than 10 years. Harper has one of the best agents in the game, Scott Boras. Scott Boras will squeeze every penny and every year out of everyone until the contract is right. Boras already has a couple of Phillies as clients, Rhys Hoskins and Jake Arrieta so Boras obviously only deals with big time players. There is no question about Harper’s hustle or ability the only question is how long can he sustain it through a 10-12 year contract. Since Harper can now play First Base according to Scott Boras there will be more clubs looking to sign him. Since there will be a number of teams looking to add Harper and attitude wise he is everything a fan base wants the cost for Harper will be extremely high. The cost of Harper will probable be 11-12 year contract and an annual salary of about $33 million to $36 million a year. As for Machado, his antics in the post season about not hustling and playing dirty could have hurt him. However, a 26 year old who is an MVP candidate most years, you will still pay a lot for. Machado’s representation of a lazy and dirty player is not something a lot of fan bases would like and even though they will probably warm up to him when they see him play initially it will not sit well with some fans. Since Machado is now considered more of a risk because of his attitude more teams are likely to drop out on the Machado sweepstakes. Teams have no problem giving a dirty player millions of dollars but millions of dollars for a decade to a player that might not hustle could be a problem. Since there are not as many buyers for Machado the Phillies could probably get him a little bit cheaper. The cost for him will probably be about 9-12 years with an annual salary of $30 million to $32.5 million. The grades given for this section is based on the production and popularity of a player vs. his cost.
Bryce Harper: A-
Manny Machado: A
Finally, there is potential. This is the most important factor in signing a player because let’s be honest you’re paying for what a player is going to do for you not what they did in the past. Potential is hard to predict though because so many factors can change for example, a player can be constantly facing injury like Jacoby Ellsbury or maybe they peaked early and can’t live up to the potential like Jason Bay. When signing someone to a contract as long as Harper and Machado even age can just be negative factor like Albert Pujols. Both Harper and Machado have been top prospects since they entered high school and both were called up at 19 so their organizations saw high potential for these two. Both of these players still have high potential but Harper seems to have a higher potential. The only reason I say this is because we have seen Harper play at a level that is a step above everyone aka his 2015 NL MVP season. Obviously he has never gotten back to that level but he has been there before and he is just now entering his prime so it is possible to happen again. Also, like stated earlier, Harper has a great OBP which means he has a good eye at the plate and a talent like that does not go away when you get old and weaker that skill can be maintained.
Bryce Harper: A+
Manny Machado: A
As you can see no matter who you choose you will be getting a great player. It really comes down to what do you value most about a player and who do you think would fit the system the best. So the big question is Harper or Machado?… or both?
Sophomore at Rowan University. Go Birds and Trust The Process. Twitter: kevin_beal87