After all the mayhem and craziness of the holiday season is winding down and people begin to take down their holiday decorations, Orioles fans become more and more eager for baseball season to get underway. And with less than 14 weeks until the Orioles’ first game, 94 days to be exact, Dan Duquette has less and less time to get the players he needs to pick up in order for the O’s to play competitive baseball. The team still needs another consistent hitter on the roster and some pitching, both starting and relieving.
One position that most Orioles fans think Duquette needs to fill is at second base. However, the O’s have someone on their roster that, I believe, will do as good of a job, if not better than Brian Roberts could have done this year. That man’s name is Ryan Flaherty.
This will be Flaherty’s third season with the Orioles and in the Majors. In his time with the team, he has played almost every position. First, second, shortstop, third, left field and right field. This guy can literally play anywhere you put him. He saw the most playing time at second base this past year.
And no matter how much you want to argue about his hitting, his fielding ability is incredible. With a .997 fielding percentage and only two errors this past season, Flaherty is a solid fielder who you can rely on to get an out if the ball is hit his way.
You can also rely on him to get you out of a pinch, as well, with runners on base as he turned 52 double plays in 2013.
Something Flaherty has, that does not show up on the stat sheet, is his quick step off the ball. At second base, you need to have quick reflexes. Flaherty has this and then some. His first step off the ball is very quick and he always puts his body in the best position when making a difficult catch or play on the ball.
His fielding qualifications are superb. The problem Buck Showalter had with him last year was his consistency to get hits for the team. He started off the year going 0-17, which led to him being sent down to the minors in May. Shortly upon returning however, Flaherty’s bat came alive.
In the month of June, he had a .297 batting average with 22 hits, 10 RBIs, and four homeruns.
Despite this, Roberts’ return to the diamond in July limited Flaherty’s game appearances. Undeterred, when he got plate appearances, he made the most of them. His solid .269 average in his last ten games of the year was a sign of what could be for his 2014 campaign.
And now that Roberts is off to New York, Flaherty is currently at the top of the depth chart for the second base position. I believe this young guy has earned the job. He has proven what he can do with his glove and he also shows promise of consistency inside the batter’s box.
A personal fan of underdogs, Flaherty has all the promise to be a sleeper for the 2014 season with the Baltimore Orioles.