Monday, June 4, 2012

Orioles 2012: Bottom of the 3rd

The Orioles have stumbled.  It was bound to happen eventually.  The Birds have won only two of their last nine games and have dropped to second place in the division.  There's no room for error in this year's AL East.  Only three games separate the Rays at the top of the standings from the Red Sox and Blue Jays at the bottom. 

It has been said that it's the bottom of the batting order that separates the good teams from the bad.  The 7th and 8th spots are generally where you put the players you need for defense.  Not much is expected from them offensively so if they can hold their own, a team benefits tremendously.  In the National League, the 9th spot is usually reserved for the pitcher but in the American League, the spot is often treated as a bonus leadoff hitter: a guy with speed who gets on base.  Given the nature of these spots, it's a much broader and more varied cast of characters who typically occupy them.  Several of the players who've hit in the 7-9 spots over the past 9 games for the O's have been discussed in previous posts so I'll focus on those who were not.

Photo via Rant Sports

Robert Andino has been the starting second baseman for the Orioles and frequently bats leadoff when not batting 9th.  His season on-base percentage (OBP) is .303.  A Miami native, he is of Puerto Rican and Cuban descent.

Photo via Wikipedia

Steve Tolleson was signed to a minor league contract in the off-season but was called up in May in an effort to deal with the team's various injuries.  He's played mostly at third base and has made solid contributions at the plate, with a .313 OBP.  He hails from South Carolina.

Photo via Wikipedia

Ryan Flaherty has been getting work in right field in Nick Markakis's absence due to injury.  He was claimed in the off-season from the Cubs through the Rule 5 Draft.  His plate performance has been meager: .175 OBP for the season.

Photo via ESPN

Ronny Paulino is currently the team's backup catcher.  Paulino was another minor league contract signee in the off-season who has gotten unexpected opportunities with the big league club.  He's had some opportunities at DH as well, compiling a .324 OBP for the season overall. 

Steve Pearce was claimed off of waivers on Saturday and is likely to get some of the right field work, too.  He went 1-for-4 in his first start of the season on Sunday.  He started the season in the Yankees organization.

Xavier Avery was called up to the Majors on May 13th but sent back down on the 29th.  He posted a .299 OBP over 15 games, all played in left field.  He's from Atlanta, Georgia.

Bill Hall was signed to a minor league contract in April, then called up on May 12th.  A utility man, Hall made the most of his seven games in the top flight: .500 OBP.  He is currently designated for assignment.

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