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Harper vs. Machado: Whose big payday promises bigger returns?

A couple of days ago, I put together a look at how well premier free agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper fit on all 30 teams. What I didn’t get into was the question of what player I’d rather have.

Based on the tenor of discussions on the many Facebook message boards on which I lurk, the correct answer would be neither. Both are the epitome of the spoiled, lazy modern player and would be cancers in the clubhouse of any team trying to win. At least that’s what I keep reading. For whatever reason, people get very angry about things on social media.

There isn’t a team in the majors that wouldn’t take both Machado and Harper if it could afford to. They are that good. In fact, they are apparently good enough to generate widespread disdain, which is about as good a compliment as you can get.

So let’s begin with that: If I’m running a team, I’d love to have either player as a foundation piece. There are 45 players in big league history to have generated at least 580 runs created through their age-25 season. That’s Machado’s career total, which happens to be seven more than Stan Musial at the same age. Harper has created 682 runs, which ranks 22nd on the 25-and-under leaderboard. He’s ahead of players like Shoeless Joe Jackson, Rogers Hornsby, Tris Speaker and Lou Gehrig.

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