Three weeks into the 2016 Major League Baseball season, the Baltimore Orioles hold the early advantage in the AL East. Even though they have lost four of their last 10, the Birds lead the division by 2.5 games over the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox heading into this week’s matchups with the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago White Sox.

There are a couple of reasons for Baltimore’s success, so far.

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Mark Trumbo has been fantastic. Rookie outfielder Joey Rickard has been a pleasant surprise. Chris Davis continues to smash home runs. As usual, the bullpen is one of the strongest in the American League.

The best of all Oriole players in 2016 has been Manny Machado. His continued emergence into a Superstar has been a very enjoyable thing to behold.

Only 23, Machado has been an All-Star and Gold Glove winner twice each. In 2015, he played in every game and blasted a career-high 35 homers.

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Manny started this season with a 16-game hitting streak. He leads the AL in batting average (.380), hits (27) and slugging percentage (.746). His highlight reel defense at third base and–from time to time–shortstop is on constant display.

Experts have always mentioned Bryce Harper of the Nationals and Mike Trout of the Angels when they talk about the best young players in baseball. Machado’s name in now being brought up more frequently in that conversation and rightfully so.

Machado is signed with the Orioles through the 2018 season. I have been saying on Sports Rehab for months that it would behoove the club to sign him to a long-term extension ASAP.

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It won’t be cheap but it needs to be done. He’s the latest in the long line of great Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles organization must do everything possible to ensure that his entire career is spent in the Charm City.