This morning Drew and Glenn posted their report cards for the Orioles through the 2011 season; after reading these I felt as if I had a few strong opinions and a different insight into the craptastic “band of brothers” representing the Orioles on a nightly basis…..since I don’t have the power of the radio to express my reasons for the grades I will simply give you the grade followed by a quick validating statement about the grade. To make this a little more reader friendly I will give you my grades on the position players today with the pitchers on Friday. So without further ado here are my mid-term……..er……mid-season grades for YOUR 2011 Baltimore Orioles!
Matt Wieters: A-
I give Matt Wieters a lot of credit; he has become the best defensive catcher in the American League and is a rare difference maker at the most difficult and physically demanding position on the field (Interesting stat, going into tonight’s game Wieters has not had a past ball ALL SEASON!). Wieters is just beginning to scrape the top of his offensive potential and his ability to hit with runners in scoring position is going to be a great asset moving forward in his career. He is one of a very select few in the Orioles organization with a realistic shot at being an A+ player.
Craig Tatum: B
Tatum is going to see very little playing time behind Wieters but in his limited action he has actually produced well with a .393 On Base Percentage. Tatum isn’t going to give you a ton of pop but he is serviceable enough to be a backup catcher on a team with an outstanding starter.
Jake Fox: D
I admit I was a Jake Fox supporter coming out of Spring Training and I was very wrong to jump on his bandwagon. Behind the plate Fox was a defensive liability for a team with a lot of young pitchers and at the plate he couldn’t bring any of his lofty numbers north.
Derrick Lee: C
Derrick Lee is still one of the best defensive First Baseman in all of baseball; unfortunately he is also one of the least productive offensive First Baseman in all of baseball as well. Lee looks to have lost almost all of the “pop” from his once feared bat and has trouble staying out of inning ending double plays.
Brian Roberts: D
Roberts wasn’t having a great year when he was healthy with an OBP of just .273 before suffering a concussion sliding head-first into first base on May 16th. I am sorry to say that I believe Roberts’ career is in jeopardy at this point and I think the chances of ever seeing the “Old B-Rob” ever again are pretty slim.
JJ Hardy: A
JJ Hardy would have an A+ if he hadn’t missed almost a month of the season with a left oblique strain. When on the field Hardy is without question the most productive player in an Orioles uniform and he has proven he is a better lead-off hitter than the aforementioned B-Rob with an outstanding .351 On Base Percentage and a mind boggling .881 OPS as a middle infielder. Hardy has also been above average in the field with a .996 fielding percentage with just one error (and that was on a foul ball).
Mark Reynolds: B+
This is where I think Drew and I are really going to disagree; Reynolds has been everything the Orioles have been missing offensively for the last decade with 20 home runs before the All Star Break and while he is still striking out at a high clip he has shown a very good eye at the plate with a .352 OBP. Reynolds is actually having a way better season than Adam Dunn, the man everyone in Baltimore seemed be clamoring for in the off-season, Reynolds has a higher OBP, SLG, and OPS with 12 more homers, 18 more RBI, and actually has 32 less strikeouts than the overvalued Adam Dunn. Unfortunately Reynolds defense has been the worst in baseball with 20 errors at third base; I agree his defense is really hurting us but his bat is really paying dividends in a very bad lineup. Reynolds has given them more than they could have expected at the plate and an eventual move to DH could make Reynolds a very valuable part of this long rebuilding process.
Robert Andino: C-
Andino” is what he is”, a light hitting middle infielder that is probably more suited to be a utility player than an everyday starter. Andino could contribute more if he played a little more to his strengths; he has decent speed so why not lay down a bunt every once in a while to pull third baseman in and he has only attempted three steals all season! In the field Andino is average at best; he has made some very nice plays but he also made some costly errors in the field, if he were putting up big offensive numbers I could excuse some of these mistakes (see Mark Reynolds) but with his lack of offense and average defense I don’t see how you could move forward with Andino as anything but a utility player.
Blake Davis: B-
Blake Davis is an interesting player that I think should see more playing time due to his solid bat; Davis provides a lot more pop than Andino at second base and seems to really hustle when given a chance. With the team going into the dumper why not give Davis a shot at playing second every day and if it doesn’t work out, what have you really lost?
Ryan Adams: Incomplete
Adams only had 23 at bats this season and I don’t really have much to go on when grading his 2011. To me he seems like a journeyman minor league middle infielder that isn’t going to be a very productive player at the major league level.
Brandon Snyder: Incomplete
Brandon Snyder also gets an incomplete but I still see some upside and a potentially productive player at the Major League level. Snyder showed decent patience at the plate with three walks in just thirteen plate appearances and an OBP over .400. I would like to see what Snyder can do for an extended stint with the Orioles but Derrick Lee and Vladimir Guerrero are both blocking his promotion.
Cesar Izturis: D
Izturis only had 26 at bats before going on the DL on May 18th with an elbow injury. Unlike Snyder and Adams, I have a good idea of what Izturis is and that is Robert Andino but four years older but with a better glove and more ability to use his speed on the base paths and by laying down a bunt.
Nick Markakis: B-
I think the over the past season and a half we have seen what type of player Nick Markakis is going to be; a .300 hitter that will give you 15-18 home runs and play a Gold Glove caliber Right Field. I would have no problem with Nick and his game if not for two things 1. He is the face of the franchise and is due to make eight figures for the remainder of his contract and 2. His doubles have fallen DRAMATICALLY; Nick is on pace to hit just around 20 doubles this season after never having less than 43 the previous four seasons. I think Nick is a great contact hitter and a solid bat to stick in the 2-spot in a good offense unfortunately I don’t think he is going to be the cornerstone player the Orioles were hoping for when they gave him a six-year, $66 million contract two off-seasons ago.
Adam Jones: A-
Adam Jones looks as if his on the field production is catching up with his amazing potential. At the plate Adam has fixed a lot of the holes in his swing and he has become an excellent run producer and shown a little more pop than I expected. I would like to see Adam’s pitch recognition continue to increase and his pitch selection to improve but if he can be counted on to hit 25-30 homers and knock in 100 RBI while playing Centerfield I can live with certain aspects of his games. Defensively Adam has made some of the most spectacular plays I have ever seen from an outfielder and he has one of the strongest outfield arms in all of baseball. I would like to see him pick up the ball of the bat better as he sometimes is forced to make the highlight reel catch because he took the wrong route to the ball.
Luke Scott: D+
Luke Scott gets a D+ because not only has he been horrendous at the plate this season hitting just .223 with 22 RBI but also because he finally went on the DL with a torn shoulder labrum on Tuesday. My major issue is that Scott injured his shoulder in Spring Training and continued to play ineffectively for almost half a season trying to tough it out; I have respect for a player trying to “earn his keep” and play through an injury but not when it is clearly to the detriment of your team. Scott is a below average outfielder and was a major liability in Left Field.
Nolan Reimold: B-
It is time for the Orioles and Buck Showalter to see what they have in Nolan Reimold. Reimold has played well in the few opportunities he has been given this season with an .854 OPS in VERY limited action in 2011. I think if Reimold is allowed to finish out the season as the everyday starter in left field the Orioles will have an outfield that they can compete with for the next few years.
Felix Pie: D-
Felix Pie looks as if he has no clue what he is doing on a baseball field; he routinely makes base running mistakes that would be unacceptable in Little League. Pie avoided being my only position player to get an F because of his all-out hustle on the field.
Vladimir Guerrero: C-
The days of Vlad being a legitimate power bat are in the rearview and it is time for the Orioles to remove him from the cleanup spot. Vlad only has 17 extra base hits and 28 RBI in 78 games this season. The combination of diminished bat speed and constantly chasing pitches that are 6 inches out of the strike zone have left Vlad ineffective and a liability hitting in the middle of the Orioles lineup.
See you Friday with my Mid-Season grades for the Orioles pitchers!