Like most of you, I am beginning to get very excited about the upcoming 2011 Baltimore Orioles season. Not all Oriole issues are solved, but it looks like the on the field product this year has a chance to be competitive. With some bad luck and injuries, they could be pretty bad again. However if some veterans remain healthy and productive, and the young studs start to take the next step up, like they didn’t do last year, this team could get close to playing meaningful games in August and September. That’s what I want.
Having said all that, there has been lots of speculation about the top of this line-up. Brian Roberts will be leading off. Vladimir Guerrero will bat 4th. Nick Markakis can hit either 2nd or 3rd. What should the top of this line-up look like, giving everyone is healthy.
To me it’s easy. Let your wannabe Rock Star hit 3rd. I really want to love Adam Jones. I want Adam Jones to be as good as he thinks he is. I think he is a young Eric Davis and this year is critical toward that professional progression. If he wants it, and he does, then let him have the chance to earn it.
The numbers back me up. Nick is a career .298 hitter. We all would like to have seen more power out of Nick. However, he has rarely had a legitimate line-up around him to protect him. Vladimir Guerrero is a career .320 hitter. He is hitting his way into the Hall of Fame and is a tremendous addition to this line-up, especially in the clean up spot.
Adam is a 25 year old career .284 hitter. If he were to get 600 at bats behind Nick and ahead of Vlad, it isn’t difficult to see Adam being able to hit close to .300 this year. Add to that most projections think he can hit 20+ home runs and 20+ doubles, and you have a real potent top 4.
Derrek Lee could bat fifth. This would be a good spot for him and would allow Derrek to knock in a lot of runs. Six through Eight can be any combination of Reynolds, Scott and Wieters.
I like this Orioles team because they appear to care about winning this year. But it is also of real high importance to continue to develop your young stars. Adam is at the top of this list. He has the potential to be great. Let him hit third and give him that chance. He may hit .285 with 17 home runs and 18 doubles. But, he may hit a lot better than that. I say we give him that chance.