Orioles’ Machado within reach of all-time doubles record as MLB’s second half begins

From Eduardo A. Encina at the Baltimore Sun on July 17, 2013, with mention of SABR members Bill Nowlin and John Thorn:

These days, it seems that Manny Machado would rather earn bragging rights by beating a teammate in ping-pong inside the Orioles clubhouse than discuss his possible place in baseball history. He’d rather coax manager Buck Showalter, 35 years his elder, into getting more apps on his iPhone than affirm his chase of an 82-year-old record.

But when the unofficial second half of the season kicks off for the Orioles in Texas on Friday night, Machado will resume his pursuit of one of baseball’s longest-standing single-season marks.

Machado has the best opportunity of any player in more than a decade to break Earl Webb’s doubles record of 67, which was set in 1931 for the Boston Red Sox. Machado’s 39 doubles are the most at the All-Star break since the Seattle Mariners’ Edgar Martinez hit 42 in 1996, and they put him on pace for 66.

And it’s only a subplot that Machado just turned 21 this month.

“Well, he sure is setting the standards high for himself,” Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis said with a smirk.

Machado’s chase of Webb’s mark will be one of the top storylines of the second half as the Orioles aim for another postseason berth, but it won’t be the main focus for the club’s precocious third baseman.

“It’s something I’m not going to think about,” said Machado, who has played more games at the break (96) than all recent challengers to the record . “It’s not my goal. My goal is to make the playoffs. To be honest, a record is a record. It’s something that’s set in stone. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great accomplishment and I’m honored to even be in the race. But my main goal is to make the playoffs. I want to win a World Series with this team. …”

Read the full article here: http://touch.baltimoresun.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-76703827/

Originally published: July 18, 2013. Last Updated: July 18, 2013.