6. The disappearing playing time of Hyun Soo Kim
For the first two months of the season, I probably received more fan interaction about outfielder Hyun Soo Kim’s lack of playing time than almost any other issue (besides Kevin Gausman’s performance). Kim became a fan favorite in 2016 for his high batting average (.302), smart at-bats and knack for getting on-base (.382). The only question was whether the left-handed Kim could hit lefties. That was left unanswered this year – he’s had nine plate appearances versus southpaws in the first half and was 1-for-8 with a walk. Now, the question is, will he get much of a chance to hit against anyone? Kim’s opportunity for steady playing time was damaged by the emergence of rookie Trey Mancini in left field. And when Mancini moved to first to cover for the injured Chris Davis, Kim got an expanded look in left. But he didn’t hit in the brief window, and has again become mainly a bench guy. He’s hitting just .229 with a .301 on-base percentage in 134 plate appearances. Davis is expected back Friday, so Kim’s playing time should plummet again. It’s possible the Orioles could look to move him, but the market for a platoon hitter with limited outfield range that’s owed a couple million bucks won’t be hopping.