Tap-In Question: Which Oriole would you most want up with the season on the line? - BaltimoreBaseball.com

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Tap-In Question: Which Oriole would you most want up with the season on the line?

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

A week or so ago, my 18-year-old son had an interesting hypothetical question for me.

And I figured I’d bring it into the hypothetical bar (can’t bring my son in; he’ll get hypothetically carded).

He asked if I could choose one current Oriole to bat with the season on the line – say, bases loaded, two outs, tied score, Game 7 of the World Series – who would I select?

It was a great question – the kid has no interest in being a sportswriter, so he’s a smart kid – and I thought about it a little without looking at numbers.

Here was my answer: Manny Machado or Adam Jones, probably in that order.

Machado because he’s the team’s best player, and because he showed the ability to rise to the challenge during those ridiculous games this year against the Boston Red Sox. He is still young, though. And that’s a lot of pressure.

Jones may seem like an odd choice, because he doesn’t always have good at-bats – we all know that. But, my thinking is, if he is that close to a championship, Jones will find a way to win.

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I gave my son those answers, and then I couched it. If I could use players from 2016, I might go Matt Wieters, because the guy always seemed to deliver a big hit when the Orioles needed it.

We saw that “clutch” ability on Wednesday against the Orioles, when Wieters hit a two-run single in the bottom of the ninth to give the Washington Nationals a 7-6 win. It was the ninth walkoff hit of his career; the first eight coming with the Orioles.

I was curious to see whether the stats backed up my thoughts about who’s been clutch for the Orioles – though many baseball observers will tell you there is no such thing as clutch; too many variables.

Anyway, one stat to at least get a feel for “clutch” is “late and close” – how a batter fares in the seventh inning or later in games in which his team is leading by one run, the score is tied or his team’s tying run is on-base, at-bat or on-deck.

Wieters has hit .276 with a .333 on-base percentage and .453 slugging percentage in his career in those situations. Last year, he slashed .329/.381/.618 with a team best six homers.

So, who else was “clutch” last year?

This may not surprise you: Hyun Soo Kim had the highest average in 2016 among Orioles in late-and-close situations with a .348. Wieters was second and Machado was third with a .313.

Jonathan Schoop had the most RBIs, 19, and hit .290. Jones batted just .238, Mark Trumbo, .221, and Chris Davis, .213. Davis led the team with 37 strikeouts. In 2013 and 2015, however, Davis was great in close-and-late situations; he hit 24 homers in those two years in 221 plate appearances.

Incidentally – because I know some of you would ask – the Oriole with the best average all-time in one season with more than 80 plate appearances in close-and-late situations is Cal Ripken Jr., back in 1984 when he hit .411 in 118 plate appearances.

So, all that said, give me your thoughts on which Oriole you’d want up at the plate with the game on the line. And tip my son for the question.

Tap-In Question: Which 2017 Oriole would you most want at the plate with the season on the line?

28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    May 12, 2017 at 7:05 am

    Matt Wieters. Oh sorry, you said “Current Oriole”.

    I’m thinking the smart money is on Machado, but that would just be parroting your opinion Dan, so I’ll abstain from answering the question.

    Instead, I’ll offer up this …
    Q: Who would be the current Oriole I’d LEAST want up with the game on the line?

    A: Crush Davis

    • Dan Connolly

      May 12, 2017 at 8:48 am

      Come on. You can’t abstain. Or I’ll take your fave barstool away.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        May 12, 2017 at 8:56 am

        OK, for fear of losing my seat … honestly, the 1st player that popped into my head before reading your piece in it’s entirety was The Hitting Machine … but then you gave HIS numbers and I felt as though I’d have been piggybacking those. But I’ll stick with Kim. May I please sit back up with the big boys now? ?

        BTW …. Nat’s Park beers aren’t nearly as cold or tasty as those served up at Camden Yards.

        Go O’s!!!

      • Creatively_19

        May 12, 2017 at 9:27 am

        I don’t think you can, I’m pretty sure they’ve become one by now.

  2. claudecat

    May 12, 2017 at 7:45 am

    Right now I’d go with Seth Smith. I’d have said Kim, but sporadic playing time has wreaked havoc with his ability to do what he can do. And I’ll go along with Boog for the guy I’d least want to see. Davis is not a good hitter right now.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 12, 2017 at 8:49 am

      That’s an interesting one. His at-bats have been wars, for sure. Drink chip.

  3. Bancells Moustache

    May 12, 2017 at 8:39 am

    Machado is the superstar, so that I suppose is the default pick, and a respectable one at that. To be perfectly honest, Jonesey is at the bottom of my list. Not demeaning his accomplishments in the black and orange, but where is the walk-off? When was the signature Adam Jones moment when, with the game on the line, he stepped up and carried the load? Maybe there is one, but I can’t recall it. I’m sure the denizens of the Tap-Room will happily enlighten me if I’m wrong…

    I’m gonna go with Jonny Beisbol. Last year’s “Game of the Year’, at least in my opinion, was that insane comeback in San Francisco . Schoop ended that with a 3-run jack out under that goofy giant Coke bottle. That’s my guy. I’m sure the stat-heads here can point to someone with better ninth inning numbers, but I’m selling jeans here, Give me Schoop.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 12, 2017 at 8:59 am

      Jones has had some big moments in late innings with the Orioles, oftentimes keeping innings going. I do remember the one walkoff when he hit a bomb to deep center against Soria. Had to be 430. And then he had a walkoff hit in the WBC too. He doesn’t melt to pressure, for sure.

  4. Creatively_19

    May 12, 2017 at 8:54 am

    For me this is somewhat of a trick question. Maybe I want the hottest guy at this very moment. We don’t need a home run right now, we just need to move the guy on 3rd 90′ in to home. I want a patient hitter at the plate too though, somebody who is going to look at some pitches and not jump on the first thing he sees. I like Davis here a lot because he takes pitches (sometimes too many), but also draws a lot of walks with his patience. I’ll take a walk off walk any day. And if this game is at home, 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th? Lets play extras, I like our odds there too.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 12, 2017 at 9:32 am

      As one who doesn’t get paid by the hour and arrives at games at least four hours before first pitch and leaves about 2 hours after the last one, let’s not ever hope for extras again. Or I’ll get the bouncer.

  5. Dante

    May 12, 2017 at 10:19 am

    I’ll take Adam Jones. He has shown the willingness and ability to adjust to the count and situation. He’s a great leader and busts it down the line.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 12, 2017 at 10:51 am

      I thought about the busting down the line aspect too. That’s key I the do-or-die situation

  6. ATCguy

    May 12, 2017 at 10:46 am

    Kim… hands down, no question. He just finds a way to get on base, although claudecat has a point about the effect of his limited playing time. That said, I’ve spent time stationed in Japan, and I’ve seen how the asian leagues games are played… and more importantly, the basic philosophy that’s instilled into their heads from the time they ever picked up their first bat in little league. No heroes… execute the fundamentals… keep the line moving. With that in mind, I’ve got faith that Kim would do just what was necessary to get the job done.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 12, 2017 at 10:52 am

      And he would put the ball in play. No headshaking for a called third strike

  7. Tiss

    May 12, 2017 at 10:47 am

    Good points made above. In this situation, a walk is as good as a hit, so I do like the high OBP guys, so it’s Kim or Seth Smith, and I agree Crush isn’t as as bad as some might make it sound. That said, they’re all lefties. Against a LHP, obviously the answer is Machado, but I’ll throw out Mancini as well. Man plays against lefties and Steven Wright and has those stats…wow

    Now, if you need a hit (maybe it’s down by 1 with two out and the bases loaded in game 7), then the most important number is batting average and the platoon advantage is even more important. Sticking with Kim and Smith against righties, but vs lefties names like Schoop and Jones (in addition to the others) now seem appropriate.

    Can we book this situation now? Please? I’ll clear my entire October.

    • Dan Connolly

      May 12, 2017 at 10:55 am

      I get your points. But Mancini is a still a rookie. I want someone that’s been under the bright lights. Right now, he’d probably be one of my last choices. And I like the kid a lot.

  8. HOF19

    May 12, 2017 at 10:58 am

    I’ll nominate the youngblood Trey Mancini…..I like someone coming to the batters box that is stuck in ” got something to prove ” mode every time he steps to the plate !

    • Dan Connolly

      May 12, 2017 at 11:19 am

      As I said above, maybe later. But not now. Not in that lineup.

    • TheEyeInTheSky

      May 12, 2017 at 11:32 am

      Yes!!! He is also clutchington! Love the young guys on this team!

  9. TheEyeInTheSky

    May 12, 2017 at 11:10 am

    Certainly piggybacking on someone but I’ll pick Schoop every time! That guy is clutch when we need a big play!

    • Dan Connolly

      May 12, 2017 at 11:20 am

      It surprised me that he led the 2016 team in late-inning, close RBIs. Proves your point.

  10. John in Cincy

    May 12, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    Machado or Jones makes sense, for the reasons you give. Elite players like Manny can be counted on, as often as not, to come through when everything’s on the line. As for Adam, he gave a taste of what to expect in the WBC. He didn’t have the greatest overall series, but some of his hits were as big as any Team USA would have. He’ll find a way to step up his game, and as already brought up., if it’s a bang bang play at first, his hustle serves the team well.

    Kim against certain pitchers makes sense, too, because he doesn’t even need to get a hit, he can just work a walk for the win. A great OBP guy works in a bases loaded situation. But he also had one of the biggest clutch hits of 2016, when he hit the pinch homer in Toronto when the club was in an absolutely desperate need of late-inning runs to keep their postseason hopes alive.

    Of course, it may be moot with Kim, as he might not be with the Orioles come playoff time. When he isn’t getting regular starts, even against righties, it doesn’t look good.

  11. mike3764

    May 12, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    I wouldn’t pick Jones. He’s my favorite current Oriole, but he’s so aggressive, and doesn’t have great postseason stats…so I wouldn’t put him in that situation. Machado is a good choice. I would have said Kim last year, but we may not see him but a few times more…so I’m going to go with Mr. What Have You Done For Me Lately with walk-offs and say Trumbo. He has a good eye for the strike zone, and he’s proven himself this year already…even with sub par stats right now, he would be my current choice. Ask this again in August and see what you get!

  12. Ben1

    May 12, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    Schoop or Hardy. Both seem good in the clutch … maybe not with HR .. but single or double.

  13. Raymo

    May 12, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    And if it does go extras (sorry Dan), I look forward to seeing Crush take the mound again. I still have fond memories of him getting the win against the Red Sox in the 16th inning.

  14. Camden Bird

    May 12, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    I was thinking Manny also, for obvious reasons. And then I too changed my mind to Adam Jones, mostly because of his experience and his performance on the big stage during the WBC. Schoop isn’t a bad choice either, especially since he’s done really well so far.

    But if I had to pick one, I’m picking Seth Smith. The guy has been a great surprise, and battles every single at-bat. He has a .313/.400/.547 line. Plus, he’s picked up some clutch RBIs already in this young season.

    My second choice would probably be Welington Castillo. Even though he’s hurt right now, he too has been a very pleasant surprise and has a .314 batting average.

  15. woody

    May 13, 2017 at 4:48 am

    Ok with the game on the line, with your final out, I’m not trusting the umpire to get calls right – so I’ll rule out the correct answer at all other times, Kim. Smith, Castillo I’m ruling out – they are playing well but they rely on mistakes. We can’t rely on mistakes here, we’ve gotta make something happen. Davis, Trumbo – I’m assuming we need the ball in play here and it’s not 3 down with bases loaded with Gentry on deck – that’s a no. Jones, Schoop, Machado I’d be happy to see as they are capable of hitting on 2 strikes. My choice though for getting a run for our money, for a clutch single, for simply being able to get bat on ball and find that bit of turf where the defense isn’t playing, is JJ Hardy.

  16. TheEyeInTheSky

    May 17, 2017 at 10:11 am

    Sooooo I guess Chris Davis read the comments and CRUSHED all of us! Hehe! Way to go!

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