Tag Archive | "JJ Hardy"

Orioles shortstop Hardy relieved to have new contract

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Orioles shortstop Hardy relieved to have new contract

Posted on 16 July 2011 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — With the trade deadline two weeks away and the possibility of multiple teams being after his services this offseason, shortstop J.J. Hardy decided he was having too much fun with the last-place Orioles this season.

The 28-year-old shortstop agreed to terms on a new three-year contract to remain with Baltimore through the 2014 season. Reports indicate the deal will pay him in the neighborhood of $22 million over the next three seasons and will include a limited no-trade clause. The deal is pending a physical and has not been officially signed.

“There are a lot of things I don’t have to worry about now,” Hardy said. “It’s definitely a relief, a big weight off my shoulders, and just worry about playing baseball now.”

His 13 home runs is third on the club despite missing a month of the season with a strained oblique muscle. While spending a significant portion of the season in the leadoff spot, Hardy’s .490 slugging percentage is tops among regulars in the Orioles lineup.

Hardy had represented the Orioles’ biggest trade chip, but 19-year-old prospect Manny Machado is a few years away from being ready to take over the shortstop position in Baltimore, prompting president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail to lock up one of the few bright spots of a disappointing season. Given Hardy’s injury history, he likely chose to avoid playing out the final two months of the season and risk an injury that could diminish his value.

“The biggest thing for me was the fact that I have been having fun here,” said Hardy, who admitted he and his agent had discussed possible teams seeking a shortstop this winter. “I like this clubhouse, I like this organization, and that was a big part for me.”

The fact that Hardy thought enough of his brief time with the Orioles to want to stay has to be a minor boost for an organization heading toward its 14th straight losing season. The shortstop wants to be part of a turnaround and hopes to be a major reason for it.

“Right now, it’s not going that well, but there is some potential,” Hardy said. “I feel like this team is a lot better than what we’ve been doing the last couple weeks. I like challenges as well as being competitive. I feel like it’s definitely a big challenge to turn this whole organization around. If I can help be a part of that, then great.”

Given the Orioles’ current stretch of nine straight losses and 23 defeats in their last 29 games, there’s been growing sentiment for the organization to sell off players and start the rebuilding process again. However, the Hardy signing means the club appears to be pushing forward with the current group of young players — for better or worse.

Right fielder Nick Markakis expressed his satisfaction with the Orioles locking up Hardy for the next three years. It was just over a year ago when the normally soft-spoken Markakis publicly questioned the direction of the organization before MacPhail hired Showalter to manager the Orioles in late July.

“It definitely means a lot to the club, the organization, and, most of all, the fans,” said Markakis, who applauded Hardy’s work in the leadoff spot for the injured Brian Roberts. “The fans have been been here a lot longer than I have and all the guys in this clubhouse. They deserve it more than anything.

“We’re working, we’re trying to climb that mountain. We’re on that way; it’s just a matter of time.”

Listen to all of Hardy’s comments as well as more from Markakis in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault.

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With O’s in freefall, focus turns to future: Who is a nugget, and who isn’t?

Posted on 07 July 2011 by Peter Dilutis

So it’s July 7th. The Orioles are again in the midst of their June/July swoon. The wheels are quickly coming off of what once was an interesting and relevant season for the Orioles. Fans are beginning to pay less and less attention to the Birds. The talk of blowing the team up and trading the veterans before the deadline is increasing everyday.

In short, it is a typical summer in Birdland.

The Orioles’ 2011 season is quickly spiraling out of control. Everyone is pessimistic. I get that. But where do the Orioles stand with regards to their future?

How many players on the current team are key pieces as the Orioles head into the future? Which players are long-term nuggets?

Let’s start with the position players.

Nick Markakis hasn’t lived up to the hype that surrounded him after his first two seasons in the big leagues, but the guy is still an above average right fielder. He’s under contract for the next three seasons, so there is no doubt that Nick is the O’s RF of the future.

Adam Jones has two years left before he becomes a free agent, but if no deal is reached by this time next season, he may become a prime trade candidate. Jones has clearly stepped up his play in 2011 to a more productive and consistent level, and he will command a very hefty contract whenever the Orioles decide to extend him. That said, Jones seems to like being in Baltimore, and I can’t imagine why the O’s would let the main piece of the Bedard deal, and more importantly a young, talented outfielder in the prime of his career, walk away in free agency.

When I filled in for Glenn and talked some baseball with Drew a few weeks back, we disagreed on whether Mark Reynolds was a long-term guy at 3B. I felt that he was, and I argued that even if he isn’t even a solid defender, he isn’t nearly as bad defensively as he has been this year. Since then, while Reynolds has continued to accumulate some errors, his offense has picked up dramatically. He has well above-average power and he gets on base at a very good clip. Reynolds has value, and as his defense creeps back to his career norms, that value will only increase. Reynolds is under contract for 2012 and the club holds a reasonable team option for 2013. I feel that Reynolds is the long-term, or at least immediate-term, answer at 3B for the Orioles.

While Matt Wieters hasn’t lived up to his “switch-hitting Jesus” hype, which instantly leaves a bad taste in the mouths of Orioles fans who were desperately craving a franchise superstar, he is still a well above-average catcher with the potential to turn into more. Wieters is the long-term answer at catcher for the Orioles and is under contract for four more seasons after this one. That was easy.

We all know the J.J. Hardy story. MacPhail acquired him for basically peanuts. He had potential, but hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Even though he continued that trend and missed a month of 2011, Hardy has turned it on and is playing at perhaps the highest level of his career. I don’t see why Hardy would extend with the Orioles before the season ends, but many people believe he would want to lock up his multi-millions to avoid risking an injury. Even if he isn’t re-signed during the season, I have to believe MacPhail will make a key run at Hardy. Why wouldn’t he? If he isn’t going to be active in real free agency, he needs to retain the players that he acquires that are successful. If Hardy is re-signed, he would be a key piece of the Orioles’ long-term future. If not, SS once again becomes a very big hole to fill.

Brian Roberts cannot be counted on anymore. That is the harsh, sad reality for the Orioles. But if he can come back from his concussion-related issues, he is very likely to be at worst an average 2B and leadoff hitter. That still has great value to the Orioles considering their alternatives. He is still under contract for two more seasons after 2011, so Roberts’ health really is a key for the O’s moving forward.

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The Turning Point and the War on Errorism

Posted on 06 July 2011 by Erich Hawbaker

It’s really a miracle that I’m not bald by now. Being an Orioles fan in the Angelos era could drive the Pope to drink, and so many nights in the last 13 years after watching them snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, I’ve absolutely wanted to tear my hair out. I guess I never thought about it until recently, but a pattern has emerged in the last few seasons. Has anyone else noticed this? Lately, there always seems to be this Achilles Heel, which makes you say: “the Orioles would be a decent team if it weren’t for (fill in the blank).” One year, it’s the starting pitching. Then it’s the crappy offense. Then it’s always losing on Sundays. And in 2011, it’s been the errors. It is not an exaggeration to say that the Orioles would be a .500 team right now but for all the miscues on the field.

With Buck Showalter’s reputation for running a tight ship, I’m really shocked that this has become the latest reason for the Orioles’ ineptitude. As I’m sure you know, a good portion of the extra outs donated to the other team have come courtesy of Mark Reynolds. Are 40 homeruns worth a .200 batting average, about 40 errors, and at least 150 strikeouts? I’m really not sure, and I’d welcome your take on it. What I am sure of is that this entire team needs to play better defense. As Buck says in that MASN propaganda commercial, you can play against anybody if you play smart. He’s right about that, but the words have not translated into action. This must be the primary focus of the second half.

We are now at the halfway point of the season, and right on schedule the Birds are shifting from “still kind of in it” to “let’s start thinking about next year”. Since we know that yet another October will come and go without any baseball in Baltimore, the next big thing to think about is entering this year’s trade market as sellers. So what do the O’s have to offer and what do they need?

The first bargaining chip that comes to my mind is Jeremy Guthrie. My heart absolutely aches for that man. We all know that he’s far better than his 3-10 record, and that he may well be the unluckiest pitcher in all of baseball. Everyone praises him as a guy who works hard, takes lots of extra practice, and really puts forth the effort to be the best he can be. He gives up a few too many homeruns, but on a team that gave him consistent run support (and particularly one that has a pitcher-friendly ballpark) he could be an ace. I’d really hate to see him go but it might be best for all concerned.

Then there’s Koji Uehara. In the reverse situation of Jeremy Guthrie, he was brought in to be a starter and then found his niche in the bullpen. And this year, he has been lights-out as the setup man. I, for one, think he should be the closer instead of Kevin Gregg as he is far less erratic and gets most of his outs via strikeout. While his value might be high, I would be reluctant to part with him because he, Gregg, and Jim Johnson have been the only relievers we can rely on. Koji could very easily be the closer one day, and it would not be wise to gut an already shallow bullpen with a young rotation that is likely to need them for lots of innings. Unless the offer is simply too good to refuse, keep Uehara here.

And finally we come to JJ Hardy. Of all the offseason acquisitions, he has by far been the best. He’s got a good glove, and has really shined in the leadoff spot in the absence of Brian Roberts. There’s no doubt that losing Roberts is the other big reason for this year’s lack of improvement, and at his age, one has to wonder how much longer he can be counted on as the everyday leadoff man. Hardy’s current contract ends at the end of this year, and hot-hitting middle infielders are always in demand at trade time. Presumably, Hardy will only be needed here until Manny Machado assumes the position as our SS (unless they decide to move him to 2B to replace Roberts). Certainly they should shop him, but I’d lean toward hanging onto him and getting him extended before the season ends if no good offers come. Hardy seems to be a very good fit for Baltimore (unlike so many of the imports of late), and he’s young enough to be productive for several more years.

So here we are again, only halfway thru the season and already looking ahead to the next in hopes that it might be better than this one. I’ve been hearing this chatter lately about the Orioles going after Prince Fielder in the offseason. That’s a topic for another day, but I would advise you not to be too optimistic about it. Andy has yet to actually “buy a bat”, at least one that isn’t about 5 years past his prime. Besides cutting down the errors, the other thing the Orioles must do is end this bad habit of signing old guys who have had great careers and are just looking for somewhere to retire. When they brought in Vlad, I had a bad feeling that he’d go the way of Joe Carter, Albert Belle, Will Clark, and Sammy Sosa. Damn it, I hate being right all the time…

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My Rebuttal to Drew and Glenn’s Mid-Season Orioles Report Card

Posted on 06 July 2011 by Tom Clayton

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!

 

Catchers:

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. 

Infielders:

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.

Outfields/Designated Hitter

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!

 

 

 

 

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Morning Reaction Orioles Midseason Report Card

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Morning Reaction Orioles Midseason Report Card

Posted on 06 July 2011 by Glenn Clark

The Baltimore Orioles are now two games into the second half of the 2011 season. On Wednesday’s edition of “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST, Drew Forrester and I gave our grades for Orioles players during the first half of the season.

CATCHERS:

wieters

Matt Wieters-Glenn Clark B+, Drew Forrester B
Jake Fox-Glenn D, Drew D
Craig Tatum-Glenn C-, Drew B

INFIELDERS:

hardy

Derrek Lee-Glenn D+, Drew D
Brian Roberts-Glenn D, Drew D
JJ Hardy-Glenn A-, Drew A
Mark Reynolds-Glenn B-, Drew C-
Robert Andino-Glenn C+, Drew C
Blake Davis-Glenn C, Drew B-
Cesar Izturis-Glenn D, Drew D
Ryan Adams-Glenn C, Drew D
Brandon Snyder-Glenn C-, Drew C-

OUTFIELDERS/DESIGNATED HITTERS:

vlad

Luke Scott-Glenn D, Drew D
Adam Jones-Glenn B-, Drew B+
Nick Markakis-Glenn B-, Drew C-
Nolan Reimold-Glenn C+, Drew C-
Felix Pie-Glenn F, Drew D-
Vladimir Guerrero-Glenn D+, Drew D+

STARTING PITCHERS:

britton

Jeremy Guthrie-Glenn C+, Drew C+
Jake Arrieta-Glenn B-, Drew C
Zach Britton-Glenn B, Drew B
Brian Matusz-Glenn D, Drew F
Chris Tillman-Glenn D, Drew D
Brad Bergesen-Glenn D+, Drew C-
Chris Jakubauskas-Glenn C-, Drew D

RELIEF PITCHERS:

kgregg

Koji Uehara-Glenn B, Drew B+
Jim Johnson-Glenn B+, Drew B-
Pedro Viola-Glenn C, Drew C
Kevin Gregg-Glenn C-, Drew C+
Alfredo Simon-Glenn C-, Drew C-
Jeremy Accardo-Glenn D, Drew D
Mike Gonzalez-Glenn D, Drew D
Josh Rupe-Glenn D, Drew D
Jason Berken-Glenn C, Drew C-
Clay Rapada-Glenn D-, Drew B-
Troy Patton-Glenn D, Drew F

MANAGER:

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Buck Showalter-Glenn C-, Drew B+

If you missed the breakdown of our midseason grades on Wednesday’s edition of “The Morning Reaction”, hit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault at WNST.net!

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Why would JJ Hardy EVER sign an extension with the Orioles?

Posted on 01 July 2011 by Rex Snider

Imagine you’re standing in the shoes of JJ Hardy’s representatives/agents at LSW Baseball & Associates …..

Better yet, just pretend you’re JJ Hardy, himself …..

As he’s approaching his 29th birthday and his first shot at free agency, rumors persist the Orioles are discussing a possible contract extension with Hardy’s legal team.  Smart move on Andy MacPhail’s part, huh?

If you think a mutual interest might exist on Hardy’s side, given his agent’s willingness to enter such conversations with the Orioles, you might want to consider the potential reasoning for their participation.

What does Hardy’s side have to lose?  The Orioles become the first team to show a distinct interest in his future services, and they probably lay the groundwork for the first bid on the shortstop.

Hey, the bidding has to start somewhere …..

But, if you take a look at JJ Hardy’s age – on the south side of 30 years, and the numbers he’s compiling on this 2011 season, there is little reason to suggest the player and his handlers will be inspired not to test the open market.

In the world of “what have you done for me lately”, Hardy has posted an offensive line of .307, with 11 homeruns and 12 doubles, in just 192 at bats.  And, he’s committed just a single error in 258 chances.

I know, I know …. lock him up, Andy !!!!

But, it’s not that simple.

Does Hardy mandate a contract offer similar to Brian Roberts’ deal of 4 years/$40 million?  Regardless of whether MacPhail’s intentions are to make such overtures, there’s a good chance the shortstop could exceed such a threshold when free agency commences.

The upcoming class of available players will be highlighted by Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Jose Reyes.  And, there’s always the potential of JJ Hardy being a consolation prize for the clubs missing out on landing Reyes.

Thus, Hardy could benefit from being a subsequent alternative to the behemoth deal Reyes is expected to garner from a prospective suitor, weeks prior to Christmas.  Such dominos have fallen in past off-seasons.

Translation: signing JJ Hardy to an extension is probably a difficult task for the Orioles.

And, if he doesn’t agree to a deal before July comes to an end, does MacPhail resort to trading his shortstop?

Such a consideration opens up an entirely different discussion and blog.  But, the hard to swallow answer is probably “YES”.

Let the speculation begin …..

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Who is the Orioles’ Most Productive Bat?

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Who is the Orioles’ Most Productive Bat?

Posted on 28 June 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

The official halfway point in the Major League Baseball season is all but upon us and by now we have a pretty healthy body of work to scrutinize. When it comes to scrutiny, no one has seemingly gotten more, from an Orioles perspective, than 3rd baseman Mark Reynolds. While his defense has been an exercise in frustration and has to improve going forward, Reynolds’ offensive numbers have seemingly polarized the fan base. Those whose cup of Orange Kool-Aid is half empty are having a tough time getting past the strikeouts and batting average. The half full Orange Kool-Aid crowd looks at his walks, runs, doubles, homeruns and RBI while getting less at bats in the bottom of the lineup than many less productive O’s and try to quantify his production.

While the science of Sabermetrics has pervaded baseball in a big way, and attempted despite great resistance from the establishment to educate and enlighten baseball fans – and they have too- baseball is still scored based on the number of guys who cross home plate. WAR, OPS, PECOTA and BABIP do a great job in helping to identify trends and tendencies and to quantify what we’ve seen and can therefore expect going forward, but games are still scored in runs and identifying credible run producers in the era of modern stats can be a confusing endeavor to say the least.

 

At the end of the day, baseball is and always will be largely a function of luck and timing. Offensive prowess can certainly help to tip the scales in the favor of one team or another, but timely hitting still beats good hitting on most nights. Consider the old Strat-O-Matic baseball game; it assigned probablitites to dice rolls and reduced the game of baseball to a board game. It worked because like weighted rolls of the dice, over time the probabilities in baseball are bound to play out, but on any given game or roll or at bat, the improbable was and is possible.

 

Since stats are skewed based on numbers of at bats, plate appearances, RBI opportunities etc., comparing them without an Ivy League degree can be challenging. So in Strat-O-Matic baseball, or more comparably simple lottery calculations I offer the following.

 

Below is a chart listing the production of the regular members of the Orioles’ lineup based this seasons numbers per 100 plate appearances. As opposed to at bats, plate appearances take into account everything including walks, sac flies HBP’s etc. Think of each member of the Orioles lineup as a bucket of 100 lottery balls. Each time a player goes to the plate they pull one. For my money, it’s a lot like the luck and timing necessary to baseball success.

 

When Nick Markakis goes to the plate for example 67 of his 100 lottery balls are outs (10 of those strikeouts); he also has 21 singles, 2 doubles, 2 homeruns, 6 walks 1 sac fly and 1 HBP to pull from. Does that make him a better bet to produce runs than Mark Reynolds who has 64 outs in his bucket (26 of those K’s) and only 9 singles, but who also has 5 doubles, 4 homeruns, 16 walks 1 HBP and 1 sac fly to draw from? Some of the numbers were surprising to say the least.

 

The 2011 Orioles per 100 plate appearances:

 

 

 

 

 

Player

 

 

 

1B

 

 

 

2B

 

 

 

3B

 

 

 

HR

 

 

 

BB

 

 

 

HBP

 

 

 

SF

 

 

 

OUTS

 

 

 

K

 

 

 

RUNS

 

 

 

RBI

 

 

 

Markakis

21

2

0

2

6

1

1

67

10

9

9

A.Jones

18

4

0

4

5

1

2

66

18

12

14

Reynolds

9

5

0

4

16

1

1

64

26

13

13

Guerrero

21

5

0

2

3

1

0

68

11

9

10

Wieters

16

5

0

3

7

0

0

69

17

10

13

D. Lee

20

4

0

2

8

0

1

65

22

11

9

Scott

12

5

0

4

10

0

1

68

22

10

10

Hardy

16

6

0

5

9

0

1

63

15

14

14

Pie

19

4

1

0

2

0

0

74

15

11

5

Reimold

14

2

0

5

14

2

2

61

20

11

14

 

 

 

 

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Guthrie gets overdue help from offense in Orioles’ 7-5 win over Reds

Posted on 26 June 2011 by Luke Jones

It was far from Jeremy Guthrie’s best performance in a 7-5 win to give the Orioles their first series win since June 6-8.

But the bats owed him one.

Guthrie pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing four earned runs and six hits while uncharacteristically walking four batters in an afternoon in which deep counts caught up with him, forcing an early exit against the Cincinnati Reds. However, five runs in the first four innings and two late insurance runs proved to be enough despite eight walks by Baltimore pitching.

Receiving the ninth-worst run support in the American League entering Sunday, Guthrie was grateful for the extra hand in securing his third win of the season despite a very respectable 3.93 earned run average in 16 starts. It marked the first time since May 26 that Guthrie had received five or more runs and just the fifth time all season.

“Winning three games in three months, it’s frustrating,” said Guthrie, who improved his record to 3-9. “I want to be better; I want to have better results. At times, momentum seems to swing against the Orioles, so it’s nice to have held on and won this game. It’s important for the team.”

Though not his sharpest outing, Guthrie’s stuff removed any shred of doubt that might have lingered after straining his back two starts ago in Toronto. His fastball sat in the mid-90s and struck out five Cincinnati hitters despite giving up his 13th home run of the year to Brandon Phillips in the fifth inning.

Racking brains over Reynolds

No Oriole in recent memory has sparked more debate — or created more frustration — than third baseman Mark Reynolds.

Despite raising his batting average from .190 to .227, clubbing seven home runs, and walking 20 times in the month of June, Reynolds’ defense continues to suffer after committing two more errors on Sunday, giving him 18 for the year. Manager Buck Showalter is preaching patience with Reynold’s glove and arm, but the miscues haven’t yet affected his performance at the plate.

“I can’t think that way,” Reynolds said. “I have struggled over there at third base, it’s no secret. Just have to stay focused and not carry my at-bats into the field with me. Just keep going out there and making all the routine plays.”

Casual observers cringe at the low average and the high strikeout numbers (78 in 242 at-bats), but Reynolds’ .819 OPS is better than any regular in the lineup not named J.J. Hardy (.907) or Adam Jones (.823). His .356 on-base percentage makes him a strong candidate to be moved higher in the batting order if Showalter wants to maximize his return.

Vladimir Guerrero and Derrek Lee were brought to Baltimore to be run producers for the middle of the order, but Reynolds has done a far better job than either veteran if you can look past the unconventional numbers.

Unfortunately, the glove has overshadowed what he’s been doing at the plate.

“I am working every day with [third base coach Willie Randolph] at it, trying to get better,” Reynolds said. “It’s just one of those things I can’t really explain. Hopefully, I can be more consistent in the future and keep getting better.”

Markakis on the rise

Following a three-hit afternoon in which he drove in two runs, Nick Markakis is riding a 16-game hitting streak that includes eight multi-hit games. He’s elevated his average from .236 to .277 over the 16 games in what many are hoping is a sign of better things to come for the struggling right fielder.

“He’s letting the ball travel, getting deep,” Showalter said. “He’s making them get him out. He’s not getting himself out as much, and he’s taking what they give him. Nick’s not going to sneak up on anybody. Everybody in baseball knows what kind of hitter he is, and they’re pitching him tough. Also, some of the guys around him swinging the bat better with J.J. and Jonesy and D-Lee coming on have made the focus less on him.”

Markakis has recently been choking up about an inch on the bat, with the knob noticeably taped. His 14 extra-base hits are still far below his yearly average of over 60 over the first five seasons of his career, but a homer on Saturday and three hits Sunday are encouraging to see as the All-Star Break approaches.

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Hardy and Reynolds are key pieces of Orioles’ future

Posted on 20 June 2011 by Peter Dilutis

Andy MacPhail’s 2010-2011 offseason has been criticized by many. MacPhail went out and overpaid for Vladimir Guerrero and Derrek Lee, two veterans on the downside of their respective careers who were unlikely to play on a contending team in Baltimore, unless of course that contending was going to occur in 2011.

He acquired an average pitcher in Kevin Gregg who happened to rack up a bunch of saves the previous four seasons, thus making him a $5 million man.

MacPhail also traded for J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds. Hardy was set to become a free agent after the 2011 season, while Reynolds could be under team control through 2013 if the Orioles exercise their club option for ’13.

Throughout the early stages of the season, Reynolds and Hardy weren’t looking so great. Hardy was injured again, a problem that has overshadowed his production the past few seasons. Reynolds was striking out way too much, while homering at a career low clip.

However, both of these players have really gone on a tear throughout the month of June. Hardy is arguably the team’s best player right now, and has produced with the best SS’s in baseball. In fact, Hardy’s numbers are better than they were in 2007 when he hit 26 HR’s and drove in 86 with Milwaukee. His defense has also been better than advertised. In short, he has been the best outside acquisition for the Orioles since Miguel Tejada in 2004.

Reynolds has picked up his offense of late, hitting 6 HR’s in June, while raising his average from .186 to .217 in just one month. He also has an on-base percentage of .335, which while not wonderful, it isn’t awful either, and it is actually extremely impressive for a guy who is hitting just .217. Reynolds, despite his strikeouts, has a very good eye at the plate, and at the very least is someone who Jim Presley can count on to work the count and make the pitcher work a bit.

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Orioles on cusp of .500 (again), other random thoughts

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Orioles on cusp of .500 (again), other random thoughts

Posted on 11 June 2011 by Luke Jones

1. Déjà vu all over again.

After Friday’s 7-0 win over Tampa Bay, the Orioles once again find themselves on the brink of the .500 mark with a 30-31 mark entering Saturday night’s test against Tampa ace David Price. A win would put Baltimore at the .500 mark for the first time since May 26.

The problem was the Orioles responding to the achievement with a disastrous 1-5 West Coast trip from which they have yet to fully recover in the win-loss column. They are 2-4 this season when entering the day with a record of one game below .500.

“We understand the math of common denominators of teams that have a good season,” said manager Buck Showalter before the Rays series. “At some point, we’ve got to get to and pass that threshold as an organization.”

Of course, Showalter knows .500 is not the top of the mountain — notice how he said to “pass that threshold” — but it’s still a significant step for a franchise lacking a winning season since 1997. The Orioles have not been above the .500 mark since April 14 when they fell to 6-5 after suffering a two-game sweep to the Yankees in the Bronx.

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2. Hardy the offseason prize

The signings of veterans Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero grabbed the headlines. Third baseman Mark Reynolds was acquired via trade three days earlier in December.

But is there any doubt that shortstop J.J. Hardy — even after missing a month with a strained left oblique — has been the offseason prize for the Orioles?

Entering Saturday, Hardy has more home runs (six) than Guerrero (five) in only half the at-bats (118 to 236). He has more runs batted in than Lee (19 to 15) in 57 fewer at-bats, many coming far lower in the lineup.

His defense has been superb after replacing the slick-fielding, light-hitting Cesar Izturis of the past two seasons.

With Brian Roberts continuing to miss time with concussion-related symptoms, Hardy has recently taken over leadoff responsibilities and responded with two leadoff home runs this week. His .370 on-base percentage entering Saturday’s game is a welcome change at the top of the order from the impatient Felix Pie and allows Robert Andino to hit more comfortably in the ninth spot.

Though there are more than three months remaining in the season, the Orioles should already be contemplating a new contract for Hardy, who is scheduled to become a free agent. Manny Machado may be the future at short, but Hardy has been a pleasant surprise in the present.

3. Arrieta racking up wins while Guthrie and Britton bite the bullet

After pitching seven shutout innings Friday night, Jake Arrieta recorded his eighth win of the season, becoming the first Baltimore pitcher to record eight wins by June 10 since Sidney Ponson in 2003. A season ago, no Orioles pitcher recorded his eighth victory until August 29 (Jeremy Guthrie).

Arrieta’s eight wins equal the total number by Guthrie (two) and Zach Britton (six) despite both holding lower earned run averages. Entering Friday night’s game against the Rays, Arrieta benefited from the fourth-best run support (7.14 runs per game) in the American League. Wins are a poor indicator for how well — or how poorly — a pitcher is performing, but Arrieta has done what’s necessary to win in most instances.

The 25-year-old still walks too many hitters and needs to be more economical with his pitches, but no one can deny his array of four pitches and overall makeup. His strikeout rate per nine innings has increased from 4.7 his rookie season to 7.5 this year, but his walks per nine innings have increased from 4.3 to 4.5.

Britton and Guthrie have been better overall in 2011, but Arrieta has solidified his position in the starting rotation. His command issues may always keep him a notch or two below the seemingly more-polished Britton and Brian Matusz, but you have to be pleased with Arrieta’s progression through 14 starts in 2011.

4. Interleague Vlad

With interleague play set to pick up again next weekend, the Orioles will travel to D.C. to take on the Nationals followed by a three-game trip to Pittsburgh the following week. That, of course, means the Orioles will be without the designated hitter spot.

What do you do with your cleanup hitter?

Showalter will not reveal his plans just yet, but admitted Guerrero hasn’t made a strong request to play the outfield in National League ballparks. Anyone who watched Guerrero hobble around right field as a member of the Texas Rangers in the World Series last October should hardly be surprised.

Though hitting .288 entering Saturday, Guerrero hasn’t exactly provided the power (.394 slugging percentage and five home runs) that suggests the Orioles absolutely need his bat in the lineup. The defense lost in right field or first base — the only two positions you could conceivably imagine Guerrero playing — creates a simple decision.

The Orioles will likely have “one heck of a pinch-hitter,” as Showalter quipped on Friday, but it’s hard to justify putting Guerrero in the field for any reason.

5. Adams’ splinters continue

If you asked most fans, they probably couldn’t even tell you if Ryan Adams was even on the 25-man roster. The rookie second baseman has 16 plate appearances since being recalled on May 20.

Sixteen.

Instead of an anticipated platoon, Andino has solidified his job at second base, and the 2006 second-round pick continues to waste away on the bench while veteran infielders Brendan Harris and Nick Green hold spots for the Triple-A Norfolk Tides.

Showalter has conceded that Adams needs consistent at-bats somewhere, but the manager has also said the young infielder is gaining exposure to life in the big leagues by being in the clubhouse and dugout during games.

Maybe a hint of truth, but I’m not buying it.

Whether it’s Baltimore or Norfolk, Adams needs to be getting regular at-bats. It’s not helping the future of the club — especially with Roberts’ status becoming cloudier every season — to have Adams sitting on the bench on a nightly basis when he could be playing everyday for the Tides.

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