The Orioles traded for 28-year old righty swinging J.J. Hardy over the winter and they hope that he will give them increased offensive production at SS in 2011. Hardy played in 101 games for the Twins last season and he was 91 of 340 (.268 avg, .714 OPS) with 44 runs scored, 6 homers, 38 RBIs and 1 stolen base. From 2007-2009, Hardy averaged 73.3 runs scored, 20.3 homers and 67.0 RBIs per year and those are the type of numbers the Orioles are hoping for out of him in 2011. Hardy made 11 errors in 100 games at SS last season for the Twins but he showed good range. Hardy has the reputation of being a solid defensive SS so look for him to flash some decent leather this year. I think Hardy is going to have a good all around year for the O’s in 2011.
31-year old switch hitting Cesar Izturis will likely be the top backup infielder for the O’s in 2011. Izturis played in 150 games for the Orioles last season and he was 109 of 473 (.230 avg, .545 OPS) with 42 runs scored, 1 homer, 28 RBIs and 11 stolen bases. He is a career hitter of .256 with a .619 OPS in 1,167 games over 10 seasons in the majors, so I look for him to hit a little better in 2011. Izturis only made 9 errors in 150 games at SS last season while showing average range. He will likely adjust well to coming off the bench for the Orioles in 2011.
30-year old righty swinging Brendan Harris will likely be in a fight with 26-year old righty swinging Robert Andino for one roster spot this spring. Harris played in 43 games for the Twins last season and he was 17 of 108 (.157 avg, .446 OPS) with 11 runs scored, 1 homer and 4 RBIs. He’s a much better hitter than he showed last season as he is a career .260 hitter with a .701 OPS in his first 485 games in his major league career. Harris didn’t make any errors in 11 games at SS while showing pretty awful range. If Harris plays like he can in spring training he should have little problem beating out Robert Andino.
26-year old righty swinging Robert Andino hit the ball pretty well for the Orioles last season but it was likely a mirage. Andino played in 16 games for the Orioles last season and he was 18 of 61 (.295 avg, .792 OPS) with 6 runs scored, 2 homers, 6 RBIs and 1 stolen base. Andino has a career batting average in the majors of .226 with a .592 OPS in 173 games, so don’t expect him to hit .295 again any time soon. Andino had 1 error in 7 games at SS last season while showing pretty poor range.
32-year old righty swinging Nick Green has a outside shot of making the Orioles over Brendan Harris and Robert Andino. Green played in 4 error-free games at shortstop last season while showing average range.
PROJECTED GRADE FOR THE ORIOLES SS IN 2011: C+