Ty Wiggington: Al comeback player of the year?

September 08, 2010 |

Ty Wiggingon has been as valuable to the O’s in 2010 as any player to any other team. In the first third of the season, Wiggy was one of the only rays of blonde sunshine on a team that seemingly had perpetual storm clouds over it’s head. Wiggington was unsure of his status coming out of spring training in that it appeared that Dave Trembley was going to platoon him at various positions (including DH). However with all of the injuries to various players at the very beginning, Wiggington all but guaranteed himself a spot in the lineup in some capacity day in and day out. The running joke with Wiggington coming out of spring training was that he wanted to make it difficult for Dave Trembley to not put him in the lineup. While Wiggington did more than enough to earn his share of playing time, he also proved his worth through his play.

Ironically, if you compare Wiggy’s numbers year-over-year, you get a mixed bag of results. Wiggington’s played in nine more games thus far in 2010 than he did in all of ’09, however that’s also the result of the fact that Aubrey Huff was a Baltimore Oriole last year. Wiggington’s hit better this year, although that’s proportional to the added games and at-bats. While he’s struck out more, he’s also drawn 2o more walks than he did in 2009. His strikeouts are up, but again that also has to do with the fact that that he has more games than last season.

So it seems that his stats aren’t such an imrovement over last year. Then why would I argue that he should be considered for comeback player of the year? As I said, Ty Wiggington was the one ray of sunlight for the Orioles when they were struggling so much at the beginning of the season. Perhaps it wasn’t the number of hits or homers that came off his bat as necessarily as it was when those hits came. As an example, on April 19th Wiggy had a homer and four RBI to lead the Orioles over the Oakland Athletics 8-3, snapping a nine-game losing streak. The next night in Seattle, he hit his third home run in four games, although the O’s lost to Seattle. On May 1st he hit his seventh and eighth homer of the season, helping to lead the Orioles to a 12-9 win over Boston in a donnybrook that was attended by me. The following day he hit a walk off double in the 1oth to give the Orioles a 3-2 win over the Red Sox, and their first series victory of 2010.

Wiggington has always been a solid major leaguer. He was never a superstar or a guy around which you might build your team, however he’s always been solid. He reminds me a lot of former-Oriole Jeff Conine in that he’s always been a consistent hitter, and a better clubhouse guy. The Orioles did most of their big time struggling in April, when they went through and above-referenced stretch where they lost nine of their first ten games. Ty Wiggington finished the first month of the season hitting .308 with six homers and 12 RBI. While he’s fallen back to earth a bit since then (especially in June when he hit .209), he’s been one of the only Orioles that’s consistently produced all season. The key word for me there is consistent, or consistency. Lots of players can be one-hit wonders in that they have their one brief shining moment, only to fade into the sunset after it’s over. Ty Wiggington has always been a consistent player that’s consistently produced for hs team.

So again, why should he be considered for comeback player of the year? What has he had to come back from? If Wiggy’s not to get this award, that’s probably the reason why he wouldn’t qualify. Last season he hit .272, which is hardly a shabby year. However I would also submit that he wasn’t brought to Baltimore to have the role that he’s seen He was brought here to be a platoon player at various positions, perhaps at times only playing for three days or so each week. He’s done that and then some. Although he wasn’t injured or miss any signifigant time during the season, he has outdone himself and what the Orioles wanted for him when they brought him in.

Admittedly I probably didn’t make the case for Wiggington very well in this column. Basically all I outlined was a guy that stepped in and performed admirably when his team needed him. However as bad as the Orioles were during that stretch of time, imagine where they would have been without  Ty Wiggington. It’s my understanding that Wiggy wants to return to the Orioles in 2011. My only question would be why the Orioles haven’t gotten a deal done to this point? He seems like a great teammate, good clubhouse guy, and a consistent player. How can you go wrong?