Orioles 2012 Reflections: No Vacancy at Cleanup


This is the 8th of 12 posts on the season past, reflecting also upon some stupid and few really smart things I wrote since last winter. I actually did nail a few topics, so this is the 4th of six postings we can all celebrate about the season and what went well.

About DH and Cleanup

I wrote on 2/11 – Regarding DH – A second option to use with some frequency is when Wieters is given a day off behind the plate – to keep him in the lineup by having him at DH. I fully anticipate Matt to continue on his trajectory of improvement – such that his bat is too valuable to not have in the lineup every day. And Teagarden gives a better backup, particularly defensively, than we have seen recently. This was a good acquisition.

Oct 10, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones (10) singles to left during the fourth inning of game three of the 2012 ALDS against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

This is indeed how the season progressed, with Showalter keeping Matt Wieters in the lineup in the DH spot while getting necessary breaks from defensive duty. His actual statistical line from 2011-2012 was rather similar, a bit lower in batting average from .262 to .249, though his RBI total increased from 68 to 83. Taylor Teagarden was indeed a fine backup, once he was able to overcome back issues and join the team. Though he only hit for a .158 average, many of his hits came at critical times for contribution.

I wrote on 3/7Adam Jones needs more plate discipline to truly become a star. I am betting that he makes good strides in this direction, and am believing also that he will be strengthened by a better lineup all around him.

All of this is true / was true for 2012. Greater plate discipline did indeed lead to his best season yet – ranking among the best players in the league. Toward the end of the year, we saw some of the old habits return of chasing low-outside sliders.

I wrote on 4/1 – Regarding cleanup, I have never understood Showalter’s statements that defining who this will be is more difficult than the leadoff question. Really? Jones is capable of handling this and will serve well in the role. And Wieters would not be a poor option.

One of the main stories of the year is that Jones took to the cleanup role extraordinarily well, especially early in the season. I continue to be confused as to why anyone would have doubted that this would have been true. Though he is not the MLB absolute best in the fourth spot in the order, Adam is certainly well above average. Here are some interesting stats as to where Jones placed among AL hitters: 4th in at bats, 4th in total bases, 5th in extra base hits, 5th in runs scored, 7th in hits, 10th in home runs, 13th in slugging, and 25th in RBIs (Chris Davis was 19th and Matt Wieters 23rd). However, there remains room for greater plate discipline, as his total number of walks were not very high at all.

Even as well as Jones performed in the cleanup role, I repeat what I have written also on a couple of occasions… that I think he should be slotted third. That is, for example, the place that the famous slugger Frank Robinson batted for the Orioles. And yes, there was this little fellow named Boog Powell in the cleanup spot. I believe Chris Davis can be our modern Boog in that spot, with Wieters fifth. Let’s go with Nick Markakis leading off and Nate McLouth / Nolan Reimold in the second spot. And though J.J. Hardy has been in the top of the order these past two seasons, I think he is better as something like a seventh spot hitter. Hopefully Buck reads BirdsWatcher!

Twitter:  @OSayOrioles