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Fourth and Counting


By Olivia Witherite (@oliviawitherite)

It’s been a little while since I’ve written. Then today, I had the privilege of going back to work at Camden Yards with MASN, and here I am, writing with a big dose of inspiration. The feeling of walking into the Warehouse and looking out the window over the ballpark will never get old.

Today, the Orioles lost to the Tigers 4-2. Endy Chavez hit a home run and crossed the plate twice for the Orioles. However, once the season gets underway, there will be many days where fans see Chavez, the probable fourth outfielder, sitting the bench, waiting to come in in the seventh inning or chewing some seeds for the whole game.

What I’m getting at is that we can’t expect the power from Chavez every day. So, who can we expect it from? And a better question is: Who is cleaning up in the lineup?

With Vladimir Guerrero gone, the Orioles are looking for the necessary power to bat fourth, especially in a division as tough as the American League East. So, upon reading different blogs (including this one by Steve Melewski,) looking up some numbers and basing my opinions on what I have viewed in the last year, I have come up with a few candidates for the fourth slot and how they fared in the cleanup position last year.

Adam Jones

Honestly, I really hate the idea of putting No. 10 as a cleanup hitter. Although he offers power, (25 home runs last season,) he also has speed on the base paths and the ability to slash out singles and doubles. While a threat for RBIs, he really is more of a threat to score runs. However, with power lacking in the lineup, he could be a likely candidate.

His 2011 numbers in the cleanup spot:

16 games, .383/.434/.638, 3 HR

Matt Wieters

I remember when Wieters was first called to the Majors, and everyone hoped he would hit .300 right from the get-go. While he has always been a presence behind the plate, it has taken Wieters a few seasons to get completely comfortable. Although he has a lot of power, he lacks the batting average to make a strong difference in the fourth slot.

His 2011 numbers in the cleanup spot:

12 games, .167/.216/..292, 1 HR

Mark Reynolds

While often noticed for his errors and strikeouts last season, Reynolds also put up a team-leading 37 home runs last season. More typical of a cleanup guy than the aforementioned candidates, Reynolds could provide the power that the Orioles need in the most crucial situations.

His 2011 numbers in the cleanup spot:

4 games, .176/.211/.353, 1 HR

J.J. Hardy

Okay, so this is a long shot. Hardy didn’t even hit fourth last season. (He hit every place in the lineup except third and fourth.) Sure, he’s not the typical cleanup guy by looking at him. But, Hardy hit 30 home runs last year, and he definitely proved last season that he is a versatile player in the lineup. Will Hardy get the chance to hit fourth? Who knows? But with the options for a cleanup guy looking somewhat grim, why not throw him in a new place? We all know how well it worked out last season.

His 2011 numbers in the cleanup spot:


There’s no doubt that there will be some shuffling around in the lineups this season. Who would you like to see bat fourth for the Birds? Comment below or let me know @oliviawitherite.