By Scott Barzilla

Dan Duquette certainly does not have the reputation as being a seamhead (like many of the newer GMs in baseball) but he certainly didn’t get to where he is by being a fool. The Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles ascended beyond what anyone expected. Certainly both organizations understand that there was some good fortune involved. In the Orioles case, they had an ungodly record in one run games and extra inning games. That simply can’t be sustained.

Instead of sitting on his laurels and hoping history repeats itself, Duquette has been going to work and subtly changing the roster to give them a fighting chance of repeating. In particular, the team defense should be much better this time around and if they can assemble a groundball pitching staff they might surprise again.

   

TRIF

Rank

Comments
C

 

Matt Wieters

2.6

8th

Matt Wieters is the best all-around catcher in the AL and could make a run at Buster Posey this year.
1B

 

Mark Reynolds

-11.0

30th

The Maryland butcher is officially packed and likely will land as someone’s DH.
2B

 

Robert Andino

-1.1

17th

The trade of Andino says more about what they think of Brian Roberts. Picking up Alexi Casilla was a solid move.
3B

 

Wilson Betemit

-5.7

24th

He’s still a solid enough hitter, so he should stick as at least a part time DH.
SS

 

J.J. Hardy

16.4

2nd

He won the Gold Glove even though Brendan Ryan deserved it.
LF

 

Nate McLouth

-1.4

15th

He was serviceable this past season, but the Orioles have to do better than this.
CF

 

Adam Jones

-4.1

22nd

I love his dynamic offensive game but he’s as much a Gold Glove as I’m John Grisham.
RF

 

Nick Markakis

-7.4

25th

Markakis was the guy the coaches tabbed last season for no valid reason.
Total

 

 

-11.7

25th

Dan Duquette has been working on this and it will be considerably better next season.

Catcher

It would be hyperbole to compare Matt Wieters with Buster Posey as players overall, but the young Oriole catcher is a more accomplished all around catcher with two deserved Gold Gloves and an improving offensive game. He should start drawing comparisons with Yadier Molina. Again, he isn’t close defensively yet, but he could get there.

First Base

Give the Orioles some credit, they stopped throwing Mark Reynolds out at third base. This year they tried him at first and he was equally inept. A hot streak late in the season forced them to find somewhere in the lineup to put him. Now, he’s likely to be gone. Chris Davis was solid with the bat and versatile with the glove, but there was some noise about the Orioles making a run at Adam Laroche. If they pulled that off they would have the best defensive infield in baseball.

Second Base

I suppose one can’t blame Robert Andino for his failings. He wasn’t supposed to be an everyday player. He was supposed to hold down the fort until Brian Roberts was healthy. That hasn’t happened since the Bush administration. They are bringing Alexi Casilla and his +6.7 defensive runs to the position. It was a very subtle move, but it might be invaluable if they can line up some ground ball pitchers.

Third Base

A team without a legitimate superstar is usually not expected to go far, but Manny Machado might change that in Baltimore. He played like a superstar at times last year, but also showed signs of youth and experience. At least in terms of fielding he is the real McCoy. The bat will get there eventually and overall he is an upgrade over anything they have thrown over there in quite some time.

Shortstop

J.J. Hardy was supposed to be a place holder for Machado (a natural shortstop), but his combined hitting and fielding have changed the Orioles’ minds. He got a long-term extension before last season and its looking like a good investment so far. He isn’t a great hitter but does well enough for the position and well enough considering the huge defensive advantage he has.

Left Field

This is an absolute mess. Nolan Reimold was supposed to be the guy, but he has never been consistently healthy or productive when given the opportunity. So, much like second base, Dan Duquette would like to move on and find someone that can be trusted here. I would suspect this is where he is spending a good amount of his time at the winter meetings.

Center Field

How does this happen? How does a player like Jones win the Gold Glove? Coaches are supposed to know more than anyone else and they do in general, but they are watching these guys between six to eighteen times a season. How could anyone make an accurate decision about who is the best under those conditions? Jones is a terrific offensive talent and someone that could easily take the next step into super stardom. Fielding just won’t be part of that equation.

Right Field

When the wrong player wins the Gold Glove it can have a detrimental effect on team building. Now, the Orioles may think they have two Gold Glove winners in the outfield when in fact they have two substandard fielders in the outfield. The first rule of running your own organization is to be able to accurately say what you do have. If they believe the press clippings they will think Jones and Markakis are the second coming of well, you get the idea.

 

 

 

 

 

Scott Barzilla

Scott Barzilla is the editor in chief at hardballchat.com. He is also the author of four books, including The Hall of Fame Index. The Hall of Fame Index was nominated for the Sporting News Award for statistical innovation in 2011.

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Readers Comments (2)

  1. Scott

    You are a clearly not an Orioles fan and not to objective either. By all significant statistical measures Hardy deserved the gold glove and Reynolds was above average at first base. The Orioles fielding was exceptional over the last 40 games. They need hitting in the form of guys who can get on base.

     Reply
    • Scott Barzilla

      Scott,

      First of all, thanks for the comments. I understand your frustration. No, I am not an Orioles fan, but I can assure there is no bias against the Orioles or any other team. My formula is pretty complex and therefore any kind of systematic bias against any specific team would be impossible to interject. Of course, I would never rule out the possibility of bias on any other front, but there is none I am conscious of. A quick look at the sources on J.J. Hardy versus Brendan Ryan.

      UZR: Hardy (11.4 runs), Ryan (14.7 runs)
      FRAA: Hardy (19.6 runs), Ryan (12.0 runs)
      Fielding Bible: Hardy (18.0 runs), Ryan (27.0 runs)

      As you can see, out of three objective sources, Ryan was more valuable defensively in two of them. That isn’t to say he is the obvious best player because that would also be a stretch, but my formula uses a combination of some of the numbers I presented to you. Now, to say that Mark Reynolds is an above average fielder would be beyond what any of the objective measures say. I would even argue that the Orioles are letting him go in large part because of his fielding limitations. So, your team doesn’t even agree with you there.

      I like what the Orioles are doing because they are acknowledging their short-comings and in doing so are giving themselves a fighting chance to return to the playoffs.

       Reply