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May 11, 2013

Fantasy Forecast: Much ado about Machado

Pop quiz: who is currently ranked second among third baseman according to Yahoo!?

Adrian Beltre? No. David Wright? Forget about it. Evan Longoria? Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

No, it is actually young Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles. In fact, there are few hotter hitters right now than the man on the hot corner at Camden Yards. In the last two weeks Machado is hitting .368 with 3 home runs, 8 RBI, 3 stolen bases and 13 runs scored. He’s not leading any of the counting categories, but he’s doing consistently well in all of them at the moment.

Perhaps most impressive about his hot start is the fact he’s doing it in his first full season in the majors and at a still relatively new position. Machado had not even played much third base prior to being called up to the big leagues late last summer. His strikeout rate is down 3 percent (going from 18.8 percent to 15.4) and his walk rate (currently 18.8 vs. 15.4 in 2012), BABIP (.348 vs. .293) and slugging percentage (.514 vs. .445) are all up.

Now, once the league gets a better look at the youngster he may hit a wall and see some regression. Perhaps he’ll dip below .300 in batting average. But still, there is plenty to be bullish about. He’s owned in about 85 percent of leagues, so more than likely you’ll have to pry him away from another owner in a trade. If you can talk another owner into thinking this has been the best of Machado, perhaps you can get a reasonable price. Or maybe even wait for him to hit the wall and perhaps then you can buy low. Either way, keep him on your radar screen.

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The back end of the Red Sox bullpen became something of a mess this week.

First the oft-injured Andrew Bailey hit the DL with a strained right biceps after starting the season strong. Then Joel Hanrahan was injured in on Monday night in the midst of blowing a save against the Twins, leading him to be placed on the DL as well.

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