Just Being Buck Part II: The Line-Up


In my first post of Being Buck, I went through Buck’s first job of narrowing down the roster to the active 25 men.

A few days after I posted, I realized I made one mistake. The rumors were flying that Alfredo Simon will be allowed to bail out of jail, and able to pitch for the Orioles come spring. I completely forgot about him on the roster, and put Rick Vanden Hurk in his place. Then the news came out that Simon was, shockingly, denied bail.

Now, after Buck gets his 25 men, he has to figure out what to do with them.

In Part II of Being Buck, it is time to figure out the batting order.

The Batting Order

1 – Brian Roberts – 2B

Roberts has been leading off for this Baltimore club for as long as I can remember. Even though he is getting older, becoming more prone to injuries, and losing some speed, it isn’t time for him to be removed from his lead-off position. In fact, the Orioles don’t have anyone else to fill-in at the lead-off spot for a long period of time. 

The O’s desperately need Roberts to stay healthy.

Check out these stats from when Roberts plays and when he doesn’t:

When he does –
2003: 48-63
2004; 76-83
2005: 65-78
2006: 61-77
2007: 66-90
2008: 64-91
2009: 63-96
2010: 30-29
Total: 473-607 (.438)

When he doesn’t play:
2003: 23-28
2004: 2-1
2005: 9-10
2006: 9-15
2007: 3-3
2008: 4-2
2009: 1-2
2010: 33-67
Total:  84-128 (.396)

Looking at 2010 shows a lot about how important Roberts is to the club. If the O’s had had Roberts all year, they could have possibly been .500.

2 – Nick Markakis – RF

If anything is certain for the 2011 Orioles it is Nick Markakis. Nick’s numbers almost never fluctuate, and he has played at least 157 games in each of the last four seasons.

A career .298 hitter, Markakis hits .324 when batting second with a .930 OPS in 743 at bats. Look at his splits here

In seasons past, the O’s couldn’t bat Markakis second because of the lack of other hitters to bat 3rd and 4th. This year, with a surplus of new players, Markakis can bat second where he can produce to his full potential. I expect him to hit .300 and maybe 20 homeruns like in ’07 and ’08.

3 – Derrek Lee – 1B

This one, just like the signing itself, is a gamble.

If the Derrek Lee we all hope to see in 2011 shows up, then he will be the perfect 3rd hitter for this team. If we get the bad, injury prone and slowed-bat Derrek Lee, he’ll be dropped way down in the line-up and probably even replaced at first by Luke Scott.

You could look at it like this: even though D-Lee hit only .260 in 2010 between the Cubs and Braves, he did hit 35 doubles which is loved from a 3rd hitter (or any hitter for that matter). Lee has hit 30+ doubles in every season since 2001, except for 2006 when he only played 50 games. 

4 – Vladimir Guerrero – DH

Everyone will fill-in the stadium for the first few weeks of the new season to see Vladimir Guerrero. He is the biggest acquisition since the 2005 trade for Sammy Sosa, but hopefully Vlad can actually perform.

Vladimir resurrected his career with a beautiful .300/29/115 season in Texas, a ballpark where he also hit the ball well. Now he comes to Oriole Park where he also mashes.

The combination of his ability to hit .300, 30 homeruns, and drive in 100 runs is the sole reason why he is hitting fourth. The Orioles hope that Roberts, Markakis, and Lee can get on base enough to allow Vlad to drive in 100. They also hope that he doesn’t flop like Sosa.

5 – Luke Scott – LF

Without Vlad, Scott would be the clean-up hitter on this team. The power outbursts he showed last season solidified him as one of the most valuable Orioles on the team. He has cut down on his dry spells, and have made his hot streaks even longer.

It’s not bad to have 30 homerun power followed by 30 homerun power, and that’s exactly what the Orioles have here.

The real question is if Luke can handle himself in left field. No one expects Luke to outperform Pie in left, but many do expect him to perform well enough so he can make-up for it with his bat.

6 – Adam Jones – CF
Jonesy has proven to most of us that he can hit for a decently high average as well as for decent power. That’s what earns him the sixth spot in this line-up. However, Jones has to prove to us that he can lay-off on two-strike, breaking balls that are in the dirt. Jones struck out 119 times last season and walked only 23 times. Jones struck out 24.2% of the time when he had a full count in 2010.

Jones also needs to get back to his 2009 defensive form that won him a Gold Glove. In 2010, Jones had embarrassing moments in the outfield that disgraced the Gold Glove award (like it hadn’t been already).

7 – Mark Reynolds – 3B

Surprisingly enough with Vlad making a huge splash, I have heard a lot of things about Mark Reynolds this offseason.

There were rumors that the Orioles were going to try to cut down his strikeout total, sparring some homeruns along the way.

There was even Harold Reynolds on the MLB Network saying that Reynolds is the next Josh Hamilton, able to hit for power and average while being great defensive.

I have also heard that Reynolds is a defensive liability. I don’t know how you can be great to one then a liability to another.

But one thing we do know is that, despite his 35+ homerun power, Reynolds will be hitting in the lower half of the Orioles line-up. His strikeout numbers and on base percentages scare the Orioles, making them reluctant to sandwich him in the sixth spot in the order so he can kill all the rallies.

He complements the players in the bottom half very well, providing power to protect Wieters and Jones, something both players lacked in passed seasons. The mere presence of Reynolds could jump-start the career of Wieters and bring back Jones to All-Star form.

8 – Matt Wieters – C
Wieters has struggled. Let’s just come right out and say it. He isn’t a bust …. yet. He has just struggled.

2011 will be a huge season for Wieters. In his second full season with the big club, Wieters will be depended upon to not be a rally killer. He has been given protection with a few power bats, so that excuse cannot be used anymore

At least we won’t have to worry about his defense. I, personally, cannot wait to see Wieters throw out new Red Sock Carl Crawford a few times this season.

9 – J.J. Hardy – SS

Hardy is going to be in the ole’ Cesar Izturis spot for 2011. Despite being a former All-Star, Hardy has struggled with his health and the bat.

His All-Star season in 2007 with Milwaukee saw the shortstop hit 26 homeruns, drive in 80 runs, and collect 30 doubles. Despite all the slugging, his OPS was down as a result of his low on-base percentage (.323). Hardy followed up in 2008 with 24 homeruns, 74 RBIs, 31 doubles, and a much higher (.343) OBP.

Then his numbers took a hit. He would play in only 115 games in 2009 and 101 in 2010. He would hit 17 homeruns, drive in 85 runs, hit 35 doubles, and amass a .311 OBP …. in the two seasons combined.

There is no denying that Hardy is an offensive upgrade over Izturis, but so is a chimpanzee and this kid. If Hardy struggles with his bat and plays mediocre defense, Cesar Izturis will be back to shortstop playing Gold Glove worthy defense.