One positive takeaway from the performance of this group of Baltimore Orioles infielders- growth.
C Pedro Severino– B-
Known for his defense more than his bat (.168 average in ’18 with Nationals), Severino finished his first season in Baltimore with a .249 average, .321 OBP, 13 home runs, and a .170 ISO, a near 100 point jump from last season. Unfortunately, his 24% caught stealing rate was 10% lower than last year and slightly below league-average. He started out effective behind the plate, but taled off as the season went along. If he continues to put up similar offensive numbers down the road, Severino wouldn’t be a terrible option to serve as Adley Rutschman’s backup.
C Chance Sisco– D-
Sisco was decent in the month of June after his call-up to the bigs, hitting .267 with a 1.033 OPS, four home runs, five doubles, and 14 RBI. Unfortunately, the wheels fell off, quickly. In 40 appearances after the All-Star break, Sisco hit .168 with just four extra-base hits. His defensive metrics behind the plate, once again, ranked near the bottom of the league. He can get on base via the walk, but hasn’t shown much else.
1B Chris Davis– D-
Considering his contract, Davis should get an F, but I was always an easy grader as a teacher. Davis just avoids an F thanks to a handful of improved numbers on his stat sheet and a few memorable off-field moments that earned him some extra-credit. Davis was worth -3.2 fWAR in 2018 and improved that to -1.3 fWAR in 2019. He was still well below league-average, but it was an improvement! It’s hard to find many more positives, from an offensive standpoint.
IF Jonathan Villar- A
Villar recorded his first 20/20 season, finishing with 24 home runs and 40 stolen bases. He became the 9th Orioles player to appear in all 162 games, was the first Oriole to steal 40 or more bags since Brian Roberts did so in 2008, and he was worth 4.0 fWAR this year, a career-high. It’s unclear how he fits into the future plans of Baltimore, but he was one of the more exciting players to watch at Camden Yards in 2019.
IF Hanser Alberto– B+
The king of hitting left-handed pitchers, Alberto racked up 88 hits against lefties this season, a franchise record by 15. Alberto doesn’t get an A due to his play on defense and .238 average against RHP, compared to a .398 average against LHP. His defense at second base was much improved by the end of the year. Overall, it was a fantastic season for a guy claimed off waivers four different times this offseason.
SS Richie Martin– C
The glove plays. Martin made a lot of rookie mistakes on defense, but showed off his athleticism and slick glove on numerous occasions. He hit just .166 with a .226 OBP before the All-Star break, but improved those numbers to a .284 average and .321 OBP after the break. Whether he develops into an everyday major league shortstop is still TBD and we don’t know if he starts the year in the minors or continues his development in the majors to start 2020. We do know that he showed big improvements as the year progressed after making the jump from Double-A ball.
3B Rio Ruiz– C
Ruiz made one of the biggest jumps in terms of offensive production from the first to the second half of the season, but was inconsistent for much of the year. It was his first full season at the big league level and he showed enough at the plate and in the field to warrant a second look. There’s also the fact that the Orioles have very few options at third base down on the farm.
DH Renato Nunez– B
Nunez put up big power numbers in 2019 and according to Roch Kubatko, is the favorite to be next year’s designated hitter. He ended the year with 31 home runs, 90 RBI, and 24 doubles. The power dipped after the All-Star break, but he did up his batting average by 11 points, his OBP by 15 points, and lowered his strikeout rate. He’s also 25 years old, meaning there’s still time to develop into a consistent, reliable DH.