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Ryan McMahon or Manny Machado.

Who would be a better Diamondback acquisition?

San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers
Fernando Tatis Jr. celebrates his homer with Manny Machado.
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Boom! You landed in an alternate universe.

The lockdown continues with no end in sight. You were not surprised. On the other hand, you were surprised by the following:

  • Jeff Bezos, who founded Amazon, owns the Diamondbacks. After he paused his pursuit of football teams, he purchased the Diamondbacks.
  • Ryan McMahon and Manny Machado are free agents! Opportunity knocks!

The Diamondbacks need to acquire a third baseman. At a press conference Jeff Bezos said he directed Mike Hazen to make it happen before the season starts. Amazing! For once, Hazen won’t be playing his cards close to the vest!

You are still pinching yourself to make sure you are not dreaming. Extraordinary good fortune struck you last week. The Diamondbacks hired you as one of their player analysts. Your first assignment is to recommend whether the Diamondbacks should pursue Ryan McMahon or Manny Machado. It goes without saying that no contact will happen before the lockdown ends.

Your predecessor left behind his cell phone and the following working paper before he abruptly quit to join a Tibetan mountain-top monastery.

Each player has statistics in their favor.

Looking at the last three seasons, Manny Machado was clearly the better batter based on OPS, HRs/PA, and RBIs/PA. Also, he added the most win probability. For details see the following table.

Data from Baseball Reference.

However, the comparison had some finer points worth considering. Looking at career statistics on Stathead, Ryan McMahon had three statistics that were better than Manny Machado.

  • Line Drive Percent of 26% vs 24%. Because of changes in the baseball will deaden it in 2022, my view is that line drives will become more important than having a home-run swing.
  • Pitches per Plate Appearance of 4.10 vs 3.67. My view is that making the other team’s pitchers throw more pitches benefits all the batters on the team.
  • Clutch of positive 3.5 WPA vs negative 1.7 WPA. Positive clutch means context sensitive WPA was better than context neutral WPA.

It is worth noting that the 2021 home-away splits for Ryan McMahon were not as big as you might expect for a Rocky who plays home games at Coors Field. Details follow.

  • OPS .830 home vs .724 away.
  • HRs/PA .039 home vs .038 away.
  • RBIs/PA .149 home vs .139 away.

Looking at the last three seasons, Ryan McMahon was the better defender at third base, especially in 2021. Nevertheless, Manny Machado defended third base better in 2020. Importantly, an additional plus for Ryan McMahon is his positional flexibility. In 2021 he had positive results at second base and first base. For details see the following table.

Data from The Fielding Bible and Baseball Savant.

Acquiring Manny Machado would generate more fan excitement. The biggest reasons were number of games in the postseason, his frequency of barrels, his maximum exit velocity, and his many awards. Nevertheless, Ryan McMahon had a higher maximum home run distance, and he was a better defender in 2021. For details see the following table.

Data from Baseball Reference and Baseball Savant.

Acquiring Ryan McMahon would add position flexibility and increase salary flexibility to acquire additional players. Also, his career had a higher line drive percentage, a higher clutch, and he made opposing pitchers throw more pitches per plate appearance. Ryan McMahon is two years younger, suggesting he will experience less decline due to getting older.

I struggled with the decision. Nevertheless, having two great choices feels great!

Your decision is needed.

The following poll will be open through Saturday, the 26th of February.


In the alternate universe, which free agent third baseman would you recommend that the Diamondbacks sign?

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    Ryan McMahon
    (26 votes)
  • 35%
    Manny Machado
    (14 votes)
40 votes total Vote Now