The Orioles have played 19 games in the 2009 season and they are one game under .500; exactly where I expect them to be this season. The offense has been a major bright spot and a reason for great optimism in Birdland. So far in 2009 the Orioles have scored 105 runs ranking them fourth in the majors. Averaging 5.52 runs per game the Orioles offense is on pace to score 895 total runs in 2009.
I decided to breakdown every position player and give an update on their 2009 season.
I will return with a breakdown of the current pitching staff tomorrow and I highly doubt it will be as complimentary.
Greg Zaun is hitting an abysmal .109 this season with an OBP of just .259. He has shown almost no power with a slugging percentage of .196 with no home runs and just one RBI in 46 at bats. Zaun has done a more than adequate job of handling the pitching staff and has a real knack for blocking pitches in the dirt. Zaun’s will become invaluable once Matt Wieters is called up; he should be an excellent mentor who can give the young star a lot of tips on calling a big league game and handling a pitching staff.
Chad Moeller has done his job in a fashion I think most Oriole fans would expect. Moeller isn’t setting the world on fire with his .250 average but he has done a more then adequate job at giving the 38 year old Zaun a rest and is a quality defensive catcher.
Aubrey Huff will never be mistaken for Keith Hernandez in the field but Huff has done a decent job of going from a full time DH last year to playing in the field on a daily basis in 2009. Besides Huff is not on the team to flash the leather; he is an Oriole for his power bat in the cleanup spot. So far this season Huff is hitting .276 with 3 jacks and 17 RBI’s while slugging .474. Huff’s bat has really heated up of late and he looks on pace to match his numbers of last season when he ended Big Papi’s reign as AL Designated Hitter Silver Slugger.
Brian Roberts received a contract extension in the off season and has delivered as one of the top leadoff hitters in all of baseball. B-Rob is hitting a scorching .372 with two homers and 5 RBI’s. Roberts’ biggest value is on the base paths where he creates havoc and has the ability to draw the attention of the pitcher. Roberts has only stolen three bases in six attempts but he seems to have a propensity to become more successful on the base paths as the season goes on.
Roberts is an above average defensive player with good range at second. He has the ability to make the spectacular play and rarely makes mistakes on the routine plays.
Ty Wigginton was signed in the off season to be a utility man and a power bat off the bench but with the injury to Melvin Mora he has been thrust into the role of the Orioles everyday Third Basemen. Wigginton has struggled at the hot corner where he seems to have trouble moving laterally and making strong throws on balls not hit directly at him. Wigginton has not showed much of the power that was advertised when he signed as he has hit just one home run and drove in seven in 66 at bats.
Melvin Mora has never been compared to Brooks in the field but the Orioles have really missed his underrated defense since he went on the DL. Mora is also extremely underrated at the dish as well where he has been more than adequate and seemed on pace for another solid season before he was injured. Has any player ever hit 104 RBI’s to less fanfare then Mora got last season?
Mora is expected to be back in the lineup on Friday after only playing in five games this season before he hurt his hamstring and was placed on the 15 day DL.
Cesar Izturis is hitting .230 including 8 RBI’s, 3 stolen bases, and his dramatic home run on opening day. These numbers are pretty much inline with a career .259 hitter who is known more for his reliable glove than his hitting prowess. The real problem is that Ituris’ calling card is his defense and so far this season he has seemed shaky at best. In 75 total chances at short this season he has committed three errors and has a disappointing .960 fielding percentage. I would expect Izturis’ glove to be fine as the season progresses and a valuable defender at the most important defensive position on the field.
Luke Scott has quickly become a fan favorite at the yard and one of the more productive hitters in a good lineup. So far in 2009 “Cool Hand” Luke is hitting .292 with a slugging percentage of .508. His three big flies are tied for the team lead and he has driven in 11 RBI’s in the early stages of the season. Luke is a more than capable hitter that provides good protection in the five hole.
Known for being an exceedingly streaky hitter Luke’s bat has warmed up with the weather. While he will see dramatic peaks and valleys throughout the season LUKE should be good for 22-25 home runs and 78-85RBI’s as he provides a veteran, detail oriented presence in the clubhouse.
Nick Markakis is the best all around Right Fielder in the American League and is quickly becoming a superstar both at the plate and in the field. Nick is an extremely well rounded defender with an astonishingly strong arm. He was robbed of a Gold Glove last year and looks poised to contend for the award on a yearly basis.
At the plate Nick has become one of the most feared and productive hitters in all of baseball. So far this season Nick is hitting an eye popping .389 with an OBP of .471, a number that has been aided by Nick’s current thirteen game hitting streak. Nick has a very mature eye at the plate and is one of the most disciplined hitters I have ever seen at such a young age; a statement that is exemplified by the fact Nick has reached base in all 19 games of Baltimore’s games this season. Nick is also becoming a top tier run producer in 2009 as he is tied for third in all of baseball with 21RBI’s.
At just 25 years old Nick signed a six year sixty-six million dollar contract in the off season that looks as if it could be a bargain if he continues to improve and develop.
Adam Jones will be the best Centerfielder in Orioles history if he stays healthy; I predicted this in my first blog on this site and it seems to be a more realistic possibility with each passing game.
Adam is a very skilled Centerfielder who reads the ball well off the bat and has taken on a leadership role in the field. Jones has exceptional range and can cover as much ground as ay Centerfielder in baseball. With minimal experience in the outfield the sky is the limit for Adam defensively.
While Jones missed a couple of games after tweaking his hamstring hustling down the line against the Red Sox; yet Jones has still been one of the most productive hitters on the team early in 2009. In 17 games this season Jones is hitting .348 with 3 bombs and 17 runs driven in. He is also slugging .621 with an on base percentage of .429 showing the extensive work Jones did in the off season to improve at the dish.
Jones is on pace to have a breakout season in 2009 and at just 23 he has unlimited potential. Along with Markakis the Orioles are building an outfield that could be one of the best in baseball both in the field and at the plate.
I saved the most discussed position and player on the field for last. Felix Pie is really struggling both in the field and at the plate.
Pie looks clueless in the outfield; he has poor recognition of the ball off the bat which routinely places him in difficult fielding positions. He shows no ability to take charge in Left and doesn’t seem to be communicating well with his teammates on the field.
While Pie has been struggling in the field he has looked even more clueless at the plate. He is hitting just .167 with an OBP of .259; his plate discipline is almost comical as he has more strikeouts (13) than hits (8) in his 48 plate appearances this season.
I understand Pie was a blue chip prospect in the Cubs minor league system and I see the value in seeing what we have in a player with so much natural talent. At just 24 years old Pie may still be capable of “getting it” at the major league level but with Nolan Reimold currently tearing it up at Norfolk it may be tough for him to keep his job if his struggles continue.
Robert Andino was acquired from Florida late in Spring Training for Hayden Penn in a deal exchanging two players that both lacked any remaining options. Andino provides good versatility as he can play any position in the infield. So far in limited action Andino is hitting .333 with no extra base hits in twelve at bats.
Ryan Freel is another versatile player of the O’s bench who can play all of the outfield positions and most in the infield. Before being beaned by an errant pickoff attempt in Mondays loss to the Red Sox Freel was hitting .133 with an OBP of .350 in 15 at bats. Freel was placed on the 15 day DL Tuesday with a head injury allowing the Orioles to recall Lou Montanez from AAA Norfolk.
Lou Montanez was brought up to replace Freel on the active roster after torching AAA pitching this season to the tune of .429. So far in limited action Montanez is hitting .167 with a homer and three RBI’s in 12 plate appearances. Montanez isn’t the flashy name that Pie is but he is a quality player who has produced at the plate at every level he has played.