With Opening Day less than a month away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2017 Orioles every day as they try to return to the postseason for the fourth time in six years.
RF Seth Smith
Opening Day age: 34
Contract status: Under contract through the 2017 season
2016 stats: .249/.342/.415, 16 HR, 63 RBI, 62 R, 0 SB, 438 PA
Why to be impressed: The left-hand hitter’s on-base percentage would have ranked behind only Hyun Soo Kim and Manny Machado on the 2016 Orioles, making his plate discipline a welcome addition to a one-dimensional offense. Smith also had his highest home-run rate since 2010, which bodes well for his opportunity to take aim at the short right-field porch at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Why to be concerned: Smith’s on-base plus slugging percentage dipped for the second straight year in 2016, which isn’t exactly shocking for a hitter in his mid-30s. It’s not a secret that he owns a career .594 OPS against left-handed pitching, but those struggles will force the Orioles to use a straight platoon in right field, which could create matchup concerns against opposing bullpens late in games.
2017 outlook: The Orioles were wise to unload the disappointing Yovani Gallardo in exchange for a useful piece, but Smith is an average defender at best and needs to be protected against lefties, limiting his overall value. He figures to be a solid candidate to hit at or near the top of the order, and his on-base ability should be an asset for a lineup with too many free-swinging approaches.
Not-so-scientific projections for 2017: .256/.339/.418, 15 HR, 59 RBI, 65 R, 1 SB, 454 PA