The Baltimore Orioles spent some money last winter in an effort to compete in the A.L. East in 2011, but it just didn’t work out. The Orioles finished up with a 69-93 record as they finished last in the A.L. East, 28 games behind the Yankees. Here are some things that stood out in 2011:
TEAM MVP: This was a close call as Adam Jones had a solid year for the Orioles, but I think 29-year old righty swinging shortstop J.J. Hardy was the team MVP. He played solid defense and he really ripped the ball for the Orioles in 2011. Hardy played in 129 games for the Orioles in 2011 and he was 120 for 457 (.269 avg, .801 OPS) with 76 runs scored, 30 homers and 80 RBIs. Hardy has a bright future in Baltimore.
BEST PITCHER: 28-year old righty reliever Jim Johnson was by far the best pitcher the O’s had to offer in 2011. Johnson pitched in 69 games (0 starts) for the Orioles in 2011 and he was 6-5 with 9 saves, a 2.67 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. Johnson only gave up 80 hits while walking 21 batters and whiffing 58 in 91 innings. He pretty much replaced Kevin Gregg as the closer late in the year, because he was the only one manager Buck Showalter could trust to protect a lead.
PLEASANT SURPRISE: 27-year old righty swinging infielder Robert Andino had been a career backup until this year. That was until Brian Roberts suffered a nasty concussion that caused him to miss most of this year. Andino took over at 2B and he never looked back. He played in 139 games for the Orioles this year and he was 120 for 457 (.263 avg, .670 OPS) with 63 runs scored, 5 homers, 36 RBIs and 13 stolen bases. Andino has finally appeared to have found a home in Baltimore.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: 24-year old lefty starting pitcher Brian Matusz was supposed to be a pitcher on the rise for the Orioles, but he was utterly pathetic for them in 2011. Matusz pitched in 12 games (all starts) for the Orioles this year and he was 1-9 with a 10.69 ERA and a 2.11 WHIP! He gave up 81 hits (18 homers) in only 49 2/3 innings this year while also walking 24 batters and whiffing 38. He’s going to have an uphill battle if he wants to get back in the good graces of the front office.