The wait is over, and all things considered, it wasn't that bad of a wait. It's time to dust off Manny Machado, see what he can do.
Machado had reconstructive surgery on his left knee back in October, and the Orioles didn't want to rush him back to game action. Anyone invested in Machado sorted through the inane updates during the spring: running one day, baseball activities on another day. Such is life in March.
Baltimore unleashed Machado on a High-A rehab assignment last week, with smashing results: 8-for-12, four doubles (naturally), one walk, one strikeout. Good to see he can still dominate a game against overmatched teenagers. Now comes the real test: Machado will return to action this week, as soon as it stops raining in Baltimore, baby (the O's were washed out Tuesday and Wednesday).
To celebrate Machado's return, we assembled the Yahoo Fantasy Five and had everyone weigh in. What do you expect from Machado the rest of the year?
I was very high on Machado heading into the season, even knowing he'd start off on the DL. I'm not about to change my tune now that we know his rehab went off without much of a hitch. And the fact that he scorched Single-A pitching to the tune of a .750 batting average over 12 at-bats (with a stolen base included) provides some optimism that he's truly ready to go. So put me down for a .280 batting average with 15 home runs and somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 combined RBIs and Runs. In other words, I expect him to do what he did last year, just in a fewer amount of games. – Brandon Funston
The biggest question regarding Machado, coming off an eye-opening campaign in which he slapped 51 doubles, is whether or not the numerous gappers will translate to long-balls in his second full season. If his .183 ISO from two years ago resurfaces, he should club at least 15-18 homers rest of season. Accompany that with a handsome RBI total and solid contributions in runs and BA and he finishes alongside Aramis Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and Nolan Arenado at third base. – Brad Evans
He's obviously an exciting young talent who's coming off a season in which he clubbed 68 extra-base hits as a 20-year-old. But Machado is also coming off a serious knee injury and is still a predominantly groundball hitter, so it may take a couple of years before all those doubles turn into 25-HR power. Still, he'll contribute a little everywhere and playing a thin position, should be considered a top-10 fantasy third baseman from here on out. – Dalton Del Don
Machado is obviously coming off a significant injury, so that's a worry. But he's been a monster on his rehab assignment, and last year's stats exceeded nearly everyone's expectations. I'm not going to assume that he makes another leap, but I certainly think he can roughly match his 2013 production. If you need a forecast, I'll go 70-12-60-4-.285 rest of season. – Andy Behrens
I put a $16 tag on Machado in the latest Shuffle Up, and I think he has a chance to ascend to the $18-22 range later in the season. I know your eyes can lie to you at times, but I see Machado's swing and all I can think about is the young Alex Rodriguez (think back before the public, justifiably, turned on him). Some of the doubles will morph into homers eventually, we all know that. Camden Yards is a fun place to take your hacks (and only Tampa Bay is an offensive killjoy in the AL East). I can't wait to unleash the Macho Man. Fearless Forecast: .286-75-16-79-6. – Scott Pianowski