In watching the Orioles this season, it was fairly evident to everyone that the shortstop position was nothing short of a black hole at the plate and at times in the field (depending who was there at the time).
When Andy MacPhail traded Miguel Tejada last off-season for five players from the Houston Astros, it was widely assumed that the Orioles’ in-house candidate at the time, Luis Herandez — a highly regarded defensive whiz — could take over the position, while hitting for average at the plate.
He was woeful and forgot how to field when given the chance in early 2008; thus, he was banished to Norfolk. Then came in Freddie Bynum, Brandon Fahey, followed by Alex Cintron & Juan Castro.
The results were not good — we had guys who could not hit worth anything — with exception of Alex Cintron; however, he was a butcher in the field and made himself completely worthless.
If you want to look at some sobering statistics as to how awful the shortstop position was for Baltimore, check out the Washington’s Post Baseball Insider blog and their analysis that was posted last week.
Here’s a snippet of what was written.
From the Washington Post: However, just how badly the Orioles need a legitimate replacement for Miguel Tejada can’t be fully appreciated without examining the work of those who tried to fill in last season — Juan Castro, Freddie Bynum, Alex Cintron, Brandon Fahey and Luis Hernandez.
In short, they weren’t just bad. They were historically bad.
ORIOLES SHORTSTOPS, COMBINED OFFENSE, 2008
Category Result MLB Rank (of 30)
Average .218 30th
On-Base .259 30th
Slugging .276 30th
OPS .535 30th
Anybody spot a trend here? The five players combined for arguably one of the worst offensive seasons for shortstops on any team in the last 35 years. Their collective inability to reach base was the most egregious sin. The Orioles .259 OBP was among the bottom 25 in baseball since 1974, and the lowest since by any team since the shortstops for the 1999 Anaheim Angels turned in an equally pathetic .256.
On top of the obvious holes that the Orioles need to fill — getting a reliable starting pitcher or two, or three; another bat, along with chasing after Mark Teixeira or A.J. Burnett — it goes without saying the team needs a *real* shortstop (one who could hit too)!
Teams may no longer need a shortstop to have the pedigree of Cal Ripken, Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra (when healthy), or an Alex Rodriguez (when he played there), we need one who can do a decent job day in and day out — at the plate and in field, plus not be an automatic out.