Orioles 2012 Reflections: 100+ Games of Drama at Third Base


This is the third of 12 posts on the season past – a personal reflection upon some of the really stupid and few really smart things I wrote since last winter. This is the third of four where I recall some of the dumbest things I posted in 2012.

After Mark Reynolds led the entire known world in errors at third base in 2011, everyone wondered what Buck Showalter would do with that position. I speculated that perhaps Chris Davis would be given a shot at it since he had some experience there, along with the fact that Reynolds looked pretty good at first base at the end of the year. But Showalter tipped his hand on the matter quite clearly at FanFest, saying that he was going to go with Davis at first and Reynolds at third. He elaborated that he had concerns about how Davis’ shoulder would hold up for a full season at the hot corner.

So Reynolds began the season as the third baseman, and he immediately picked up right where he left off in 2011 – error, error, error. It was defensively unsustainable, and he was not hitting well either. Eventually, Wilson Betemit became the primary go-to person. This was an upgrade for sure, but even so remained a weakness.

At the halfway point of the season in July I wrote in a position by position review of the team:  Third Base – This is a huge problem. There really is not a visible solution. I don’t know how to evaluate any trade possibilities for such, as it seems too far into the speculative to comment upon. But the internal options are all rather poor defensively. I say go with Betemit for the vast majority of games, with an occasional Ryan Flaherty against left-handers. This is becoming a top priority for the off season.

At this juncture, nobody was calling for or anticipating that minor league shortstop Manny Machado was a near-term solution. Though speculation was high that the youngster would need to break in with Birds at third base due to the presence of J.J. Hardy, there was little thought that it would happen in 2012 – and maybe not even in 2013.

September 26, 2012; Baltimore, MD, n Manny Machado (13) throws over to first base to get out Toronto Blue Jays pinch hitter Mike McCoy (not shown) in the eighth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

But Machado got hot in the minors, and in a bold and (at the time) controversial move, Dan Duquette brought him to the Orioles on August 9th. The team had a record of 60-51 at the time of his arrival. Therefore the Birds were 33-18 from that point forward. Machado’s more than sufficient defense at third base seemed to be the installation of the missing link. His arm for slinging laser shots across the infield was especially impressive, and he was seldom over-matched at the plate.

So there is no priority whatsoever for dealing with an issue at third base in the off season. That is a settled situation at this point, and that is awesome. And it now looks like a very stupid subject to have written about!

Twitter:  @OSayOrioles