Dixon Machado is all the talk of the current Korea Baseball Organization season. When you start the season slashing .389/.450/.889 and put together a WRC+ of 230 the talk is warranted. It would be easy to look at what Machado has done so far this season and declare it an aberration. His best WRC+ prior to 2020 was a 135 he posted back in 2014 as a member of the Erie SeaWolves. There are a few low 100 WRC+ seasons peppering the remainder of his stat box, but it’s not the distant past that can tell us why the Dixon Machado we’re seeing with the Lotte Giants is going to be the real Dixon Machado going forward.
Machado spent the 2019 season with the Iowa Cubs. The Pacific Coast League was known for lots of offense and high scoring. Then the 2019 season happened and it blew everything up with offensive numbers that were straight out of a video game. Smack dab in the middle of the PCL’s insane offensive explosion was Machado. He took a reputation as a slick-fielding but light-hitting shortstop into his time with the Cubs. By season’s end, Machado had transformed into a slick-fielding bomb hitting machine.
A slugging percentage of .480 isn’t exactly jaw-dropping. However, when it’s taken into account with a career that never saw Machado post a slugging percentage above .442 it opens the eyes a bit. In 4,250 plate appearances, prior to the start of the 2019 season, Machado hit 27 home runs. In 414 plate appearances since then, Machado has hit 20 home runs. It’s clear that Machado’s great start to 2020 can be traced back to what he did in 2019 in the PCL.
There are those who would dismiss what Machado did in 2019 thanks to the rabbit ball that the PCL used all season long. This is valid and I would understand anyone who is wary of what Machado is doing with the Giants this year. All the same, as seen above, the numbers have carried over. Machado is hitting everything hard and he’s doing it with a baseball that we know was slightly deadened prior to the 2019 season. Changing leagues and working with a less aerodynamic baseball hasn’t stopped Machado’s offensive onslaught.
No matter the ball being used, an ISO of .219 is impressive. That’s what Machado put up last year because when he wasn’t cranking dingers he was lacing doubles all over the place. With the Giants Machado has been producing even better results. I know the sample size is small, but I don’t particularly care at this juncture. Machado is carrying over all the improvements he made with the Cubs to the Giants. His ISO so far in 2020 is an astounding .500. Clearly he won’t keep up that pace, but he will continue to hit for power so don’t be surprised if he winds up with an ISO in the .200 range yet again.
Anecdotal evidence is often our enemy, but it does have value. Going back and watching Machado play before 2019 and the ball sounds different coming off his bat. The Machado of 2019-2020 is producing a uniquely loud sound when his bat meets the ball. That sound means something, you know it and I know it even if we can’t exactly quantify what it means. The sound coming off of Machado’s bat in 2017 was one that meant, “That’s gonna die on the warning track.” Now the sound Machado is producing says “Damn, how far out of here will that be?”
The KBO season is young, but Dixon Machado’s continued progression as a hitter has been fun to watch. The glove is still amazing, but now his bat is as well. The Lotte Giants made a tremendous move in picking up Machado. I and others should have paid more attention to his signing because Machado is the real deal. Machado sure as heck has graduated from being a Cub to a full-blown Giant.
Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Unknown