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November 04, 2018

Manny Machado or Bryce Harper: which is a better free agent fit, target for Phillies?

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102918_Machado-Harper_usat USA Today Sports/File

Could both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper be in red pinstripes next season?

There are two big prizes this offseason: Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

With the hot stove officially on, the Phillies are expected to be one of the favorites to sign both — or if you ask Las Vegas oddsmakers, THE favorite.

But for the sake of this exercise, and lets face it, reasonability, lets fathom to decide which is a better fit for the Phillies with the assumption that the franchise is only able to ink one of the duo to a longterm contract.

Which would you rather have?

Lets take a look at this from a few different lenses.

The stats 

It's remarkable how similar these two players are from simply looking at their career stats. Machado has a better career batting average by .003 points while Harper has just nine more home runs and eight more RBI — this stretched over seven seasons apiece.

Each, also, has compiled a bevy of accolades as the pair has combined for 10 All-Star appearances. Harper won the 2015 NL MVP, while Machado has two gold gloves. Here's a deeper look at the basic offensive stats:

Harper


TM R 2B HR RBI BA OPS
2012 WSN 98 26 22 59 .270 .817
2013 WSN 71 24 20 58 .274 .854
2014 WSN 41 10 13 32 .273 .768
2015 WSN 118 38 42 99 .330 1.109
2016 WSN 84 24 24 86 .243 .814
2017 WSN 95 27 29 87 .319 1.008
2018 WSN 103 34 34 100 .249 .889
TOT - - - 610 183 184 521 .279 .900

Machado


TM R 2B HR RBI BA OPS
2012 BAL 24 8 7 26 .262 .739
2013 BAL 88 51 14 71 .283 .746
2014 BAL 38 14 12 32 .278 .755
2015 BAL 102 30 35 86 .286 .861
2016 BAL 105 40 37 96 .294 .876
2017 BAL 81 33 33 95 .259 .782
2018 BAL/LAD 84 35 37 107 .297 .905
TOT - - - 522 211 175 513 .282 .822

Who's better? Really, it's a tie.

Fit on roster

Machado plays third base, but could potentially play shortstop if required. The infield for the Phillies is young but not much jumps out about it. Mikal Franco was the best bat, hitting .270 and hitting 22 homers with Cesar Hernandez playing about as good as an average player, hitting .253 and stealing 19 bags mostly from a leadoff role. Other options at third and short from in house include Scott Kingery, who had a lackluster rook campaign and veteran Asdrubel Cabrera.

Harper, on the other hand plays outfield — a spot where Philly is a little deeper and has a little more promise. Right now, it seems like Odubel Herrera, Nick Williams and Roman Quinn are the outfield of the future, with Rhys Hoskins splitting time in right field and at first base (depending on what happens with Carlos Santana). The aforementioned group of four players are young and some have pop and some have speed, but none of them eclipsed a .260 batting average in 2018. 

Who's better? Machado — who is a great defender — is a better fit for an infield that made more errors than any other.

Fit in locker room

Both Harper and Machado are big personalities and bring some baggage with them. In the postseason, Machado seemed to be the kind of "selective hustler" that Phillies fans have dealt with for a while (kind of like Herrera and Franco). The following happened after Machado was criticized for not running out every ball:

Harper also is a known bat flipper and once had beef with Cole Hamels, who welcomed him to the big leagues a few seasons ago with a HBP — to which Harper responded by stealing home. 

Who's better? Harper by a nose, his swagger could eventually endear himself to the Philly faithful.

Momentum

For all their successes, Harper and Machado are not exactly coming off of red hot performances. Harper's regular season in 2018 was his worst as a pro, despite his impressive performance in the Home Run Derby.

Machado, who had one of his best regular seasons, whimpered in a deep postseason run with the Dodgers, hitting .182 in the World Series after hitting three home runs in the first two rounds. 

The biggest question here is how Harper will bounce back from his down season. Machado has been a model of consistency.

Who's better? Machado is more of a sure thing.

Tell us who you think is the better fit for the Phillies in the comments section or vote below:


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