Baltimore Orioles: Three Players Who Must Show Up In 2020
Will DJ Stewart find a spot in the lineup in 2020 for the Baltimore Orioles?
The emergence of Austin Hays in September was not only a huge boost for morale among fans who stuck around with this team, but it has also made the outfield competition very interesting, in a good way.
We know that Chris Davis is coming back, at least for spring training, and Renato Nunez appears poised to take on the full-time DH role, according to MASN’s Roch Kubatko. That means another season of Trey Mancini in the outfield. Hays is the early leader for the starting centerfield job, leaving just one spot open.
The competition for left field will include the likes of Anthony Santander (my way too early pick for Opening Day starter), Dwight Smith Jr. possibly Cedric Mullins, and former first-round pick DJ Stewart. 2019 was a disappointing year for Stewart, some of it due to uncontrollable circumstances, but there’s no denying that he needs a big 2020.
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After dominating his way through Triple-A, Stewart played in 44 games in 2019, hitting .238 with four home runs, six doubles, and a .698 OPS. A former 20-20 guy in the minors (20 HR, 20 SB), Stewart swiped just one bag. He posted a wRC+ of 86 and was worth -0.3 fWAR.
Take the advanced defensive metrics for what you will, especially with the smaller sample size, but Stewart recorded -4 Defensive Runs Saved and a -1.8 Ultimate Zone Rating in the outfield. You really don’t need to look at his defensive ratings to know how poor his defense was this season.
When we look back at Stewart’s 2019, we’re likely to remember him running into Hanser Alberto and suffering an ankle injury, his outfield miscues, and his slipping and taking a flyball off his head. Not exactly a way to make a positive impression heading into 2020.
Will competition pull out the best in Stewart when spring training rolls around? If he can perform consistently at the plate, he can be a valuable fourth outfielder behind Mancini, Hays, and Santander in 2020 with home run power and some speed, hopefully.
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