In the season’s first half, while several Orioles regulars were hurt and underperformed, there were several pleasant surprises.
Here are five:
1) Jimmy Paredes
Paredes was nearly dropped from the 40-man roster over the winter, and was the surprise of spring training. After starting the season on the disabled list with a back injury, Paredes had a terrific month, slumped and then rebounded.
He’s obviously a very streaky hitter, but overall his good days outnumber his bad ones.
No one could have predicted a .299 average with 10 home runs and 36 RBIs in the first half.
He’s limited in the field, however. Though he can play second and third and has played a bit in the outfield, Paredes is primarily a left-handed DH.
While he’s a switch hitter, Paredes bats far better from the left side (.309) than the right (.244). All of his home runs have come from the left side.
The Orioles may want him to work in the outfield over the winter. And, if he can play adequately there, it could be a big help.
2) Ubaldo Jimenez
Last July’s biggest disappointment is one of this season’s biggest surprises. Jimenez, who wasn’t even on the ALCS roster, has become a dependable starter, the kind of pitcher who earned a four-year, $50 million contract from the Orioles.
Jimenez has a career best strikeout-to-walk ratio. He’s struck out more than three times as many as he’s walked. Last year, he had a horrifying 1.51 strikeouts per walk.
With a group of starters that’s struggled to go deep in games, Jimenez has completed seven innings seven times in 17 starts, and instead of worrying about him, they can depend on him as a starter for next year, too.
3) Chaz Roe
Roe was one of many non-roster invitees to spring training. When he was signed last December, there didn’t seem to be anything remarkable about his record.
During spring training, he was one of the later cuts, but again, nothing really stood out about him.
The Orioles purchased his contract from Norfolk the day after Brian Matusz was found with a foreign substance on his arm, and Roe is still with the Orioles nearly two months later.
He’s out of options, and would certainly be claimed if the Orioles tried to send him through waivers.
Roe’s first six outings were clean- 9 1/3 scoreless innings, and while he’s given up some runs since, he hasn’t had a truly awful performance.
He’s got a 2.67 ERA, has given up far less than a hit and inning, allowed just two home runs in 27 innings, and struck out three times as many as he’s walked.
4) Ryan Flaherty
The Orioles have missed Jonathan Schoop’s bat, but in the meantime, Flaherty has played a very nice second base.
In 48 games at second base, Flaherty made just one error.
Flaherty’s hitting has improved under Scott Coolbaugh, and while he’s cooled off, he’s become somewhat more patient.
While his .320 on-base percentage isn’t all that impressive, it’s 10 points higher than the team’s.
5) Nolan Reimold
There are many Orioles fans who never expected to see Reimold again, but he outplayed Delmon Young and is still with the team.
Reimold has played in 19 games with two home runs, and has shown good speed. He even started two games in center field while Adam Jones was injured, the first time he’s played there in the majors.
HONORABLE MENTION: Oliver Drake, Chris Parmelee and Mike Wright
Drake’s on the minor league disabled list, but saw his first major league action this season. He didn’t allow a run in his first five innings, and had a great debut in Miami, throwing three scoreless innings on May 23.
Parmelee arrived on June 15 as he was about to exercise his opt-out clause from Norfolk. He had four hits, two of them home runs in his first game, a 19-3 win over the Phillies, and while he hasn’t maintained the hot bat, has played a skilled first base.
Wright had two great starts. In his first, he held the Angels scoreless in seven innings, allowing just four hits with no walks. He followed that with seven more scoreless innings against Miami. Wright allowed only three hits in that one. He struggled since then, and is back in Norfolk.
NOTE: MLB Network has a fascinating program Wednesday at 7 p.m., “Buck Showalter, A Baseball Life.” Showalter is interviewed by Bob Costas, and there’s lots of inside stuff for fans. Showalter’s wife, Angela, also offers some great insights, and there’s the unforgettable postgame press conference after the game without fans where Buck is asked what advice he’d give young African American males in Baltimore’s inner city.
It’s the Showalter those of us fortunate enough to see him every day are familiar with.