Baltimore Orioles: Which slugger could carry the birds in October?

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Photo: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY SportsWith the division title well in hand the Orioles now have their eyes on catching the Los Angeles Angels for the top seed in the American League. However, with only 17 games remaining the Orioles trail the Angels by four games. It would take an incredible collapse by the Angels to be overtaken. Instead Buck may choose to use the final three weeks to rest several of his starters. Orioles’ fans have begun to see this in September with guys like Lough and Flaherty getting more at bats.

It’s a fine line to walk, however. On the one hand, it would be great to rest players and have players fresh going into the playoffs. However, too much rest could result in players losing their rhythm. Many of those decisions may come from player’s performance. If a player begins to heat up Buck may choose to keep him in the lineup, hoping to ride the hot hand into the playoffs.

Orioles fans have seen exactly how a hot player can carry a team. Nelson Cruz did exactly that in May hitting a ridiculous .339 with 13 homeruns and 27 RBI’s. Cruz then tapered off after May, hitting just over .210 over the next three months.

However, Cruz seems to be regaining his swing in September. In ten games this month he is hitting .366 with four home runs. He also added a 7 RBI day, which Orioles’ fans probably wish he could have saved for October.

By his standards Adam Jones has had a fairly mediocre September, hitting just .275 with one homer. However, Orioles fans know what he’s capable of when he gets hot. Jones went only 2 for 23 in the divisional round of the 2012 playoffs.

He’s a very energetic and emotional player, and Orioles’ fans love him for that. However, in that playoff series he was trying to do too much and got in his own way. An older and more mature Adam Jones should come into this year’s playoffs more relaxed, and should be an enormous factor for the Orioles.

Cruz wasn’t the only Oriole to carry the ballclub in recent memory. For much of 2013 Chris Davis was an offensive force, putting on a shocking display of power seemingly every night. However, 2014 has had everyone wondering exactly who the real Chris Davis is.

September has seen some improvement for Davis. He’s hit safely in nine of the ten games this month for a .256 average. The strikeouts will always be frustrating to watch, but he also can add a few tape-measure shots to a playoff series. When scoring is at its most difficult in the playoffs, it’s a luxury to have a guy who can change the game with one swing, even if there are some frustrating at bats in between.

It’s impossible to predict who could be a post season hero, and the Orioles have a roster loaded with capable hitters. However, their middle of the order hitters have shown how they can carry a lineup in the past, and the Orioles hope that one of them can repeat that success in October.