Hanser Alberto will try to duplicate his 2019 Orioles success in 2020 - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Hanser Alberto will try to duplicate his 2019 Orioles success in 2020

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

Hanser Alberto is an enigma for the Orioles. A good enigma, but he’s still a mystery in many ways.

Alberto, who shocked everyone by not only making the club but at one point challenging for the American League batting championship, is 27, so he’s not exactly part of the youth movement.

But he’s accrued enough service time to be eligible for arbitration. According to MLBTradeRumors.com, Alberto could make $1.9 million, which is quite affordable for a player who hit .305 and .398 against left-handers. Alberto hit just .238 against right-handers.

Alberto had a .948 OPS against left-handers and just .609 when facing right-handers.

Unlike Jonathan Villar, who’s just a season away from free agency and could earn as much as $10.4 million in arbitration according to TradeRumors, Alberto isn’t a likely trade chip this winter.

But is he good enough to be a piece for when the Orioles improve?

There were certainly questions about his defense. He played second and third base, and at second often played recklessly. Alberto was lampooned by Sports Illustrated as committing what “may be the worst play in MLB history” on May 16.

With the bases loaded, Alberto fielded a grounder at second base and could have gotten an out at any base. Instead of starting a double play, he attempted to start a rundown with Francisco Lindor, the oncoming runner from first, missed the tag, flipped the ball to first baseman Chris Davis, who threw home as a run scored.

Alberto somehow wasn’t charged with an error, and the Cleveland Indians scored five runs in a sloppy inning that caused MASN broadcaster Mike Bordick to bemoan, “this is hard to watch.”

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Despite the embarrasing miscue, Alberto had a .8 defensive WAR and a healthy 3.1 WAR overall.

This is the same player who was claimed on waivers by the New York Yankees last November 2, claimed by the Orioles on January 11, and then claimed by the San Francisco Giants on February 22 and reclaimed by the Orioles a week later.

Surprisingly, Alberto made the Orioles and became a major contributor. Unlike the team’s other surprise, John Means, who had an undistinguished record in the minor leagues, Alberto hit .309 in parts of four seasons with the Texas Rangers’ Triple-A Round Rock affiliate.

Alberto hit 12 home runs for the Orioles last season, his largest total in professional ball. Since home runs were so plentiful, and there was so much talk about a lively ball, Alberto’s power numbers can be unconvincing.

His offensive statistics don’t make him a fit in today’s game. Alberto walked just 16 times and had a .329 on-base percentage to go with the .305 average. Villar walked 61 times. On the other hand, 11 Orioles had more than his 50 strikeouts.

His ability to move between second and third made him valuable to manager Brandon Hyde, but if the Orioles decided to send last year’s Rule 5 pick, Richie Martin to the minors for more seasoning, Alberto hasn’t shown an ability to play shortstop.

The Orioles don’t have any middle infield prospects that are close to being major league ready, so there’s a likelihood he’ll return to the team next season.

For now, it looks like more of the same for Alberto in 2020, some second base, some third and the hope that he can duplicate his 2019 success.

If that happens, then the Orioles will have a pleasant problem and perhaps a valuable commodity to trade.

Arizona Fall League championship: The Surprise Saguaros, which is comprised of the Orioles as well as four other teams, will play for the Arizona Fall League title against the Salt River Rafters on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET.

Seven players in the Orioles’ organization — right-handers Cody Carroll, Dean Kremer and David Lebron, left-hander Alex Wells, infielders Rylan Bannon and Mason McCoy and outfielder T.J. Nichting play for Surprise.

Kyle Moore, who managed Low-A Delmarva, is a Saguaros coach.

The game can be seen on MLB.com.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Bhoffman1

    October 24, 2019 at 8:31 am

    Good morning Rich, is Washington such a bigger market then the O’s that they can afford a much bigger payroll then us. Again you gotta smile at what they are doing. Just beat the two pitchers up for Cy Young. It’s a dream story so far and the excitement in the dugout among the players is about the best I’ve ever seen.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 24, 2019 at 8:55 am

      Bruce, as recently as 2017, the Orioles and Nationals had equal Opening Day payrolls.

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    October 24, 2019 at 8:50 am

    “His offensive statistics don’t make him a fit in today’s game.” It’s an utter shame that there is more than a little bit of truth in that statement. I for one love to see s spray hitter that can handle a bat.

    I understand what you’re saying Rich, but the next time I hear a player or coach utter the phrase “keep the line moving” … I’m going to call BS.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 24, 2019 at 8:57 am

      Ken, I remember seeing a game this year with three straight singles to score a run and remarking, ‘I haven’t seen that in a while.’ I enjoy small ball with a dose of long ball, not the other way around.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        October 24, 2019 at 7:24 pm

        We’re on the same page in that regard.

  3. Bancells Moustache

    October 24, 2019 at 9:22 am

    Piggy backing on Boog but here is a question, an argument I had at my local watering hole recently; With Front Offices today demanding power above all else, would the great spray hitters of the 70’s and 80’s, the Carews, Boggs and Gwynns of the world, would they be given a fair shake in MLB in 2019?

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 24, 2019 at 10:30 am

      Bancells, it’s a question that I have often raised. Boggs has a career 91.4 WAR and an .858 OPS. The perception of Boggs was that he was a singles, hitter, but he had 40 or more doubles in eight seasons. Gwynn had a 69.2 WAR and .847 OPS. He had seven seasons of 30 or more doubles while Carew had an 81.3 WAR and .822 lifetime OPS. He had five seasons each of 30 or more doubles and 10 or more triples.

      Alberto had 21 doubles and two triples with a 3.1 WAR.

      So, yes, those players would get a fair shake because they’d stand out. Christian Yelich hits the ball the other way, and he’s revered. I think Boggs, Gwynn and Carew would actually be able to stand out even more today before they’d exploit the shift and fastball mentalities.

  4. Orial

    October 24, 2019 at 10:32 am

    The word enigma used for Alberto is a good when describing this current roster not just him. Majority of the players are decent in one particular thing but lacking in most others. Hanser was fun to watch. It seems his singles were his “walks”. Like a few other O’s and what you mentioned Rich,mental lapses were a problem for him. But he did seem to improve with playing time. Yes but back to the enigma–where the Hell do you play him?

    • Bancells Moustache

      October 24, 2019 at 12:27 pm

      Play him wherever you want. If they move on from Villar, this team has a grand total of one proven Big League players on the field, a first baseman who for some reason ends up in a corner OF spot. I like Alberto at 2B, where his defensive limitations aren’t as exposed as they would be on the other side.

      • willmiranda

        October 24, 2019 at 2:10 pm

        I agree with Alberto for 2B and would like to see Villar at SS. BTW, I think the comment calling his play maybe the worst ever was worthy of a publication that considers bikini a sport. Just silly. He should improve with consistent work at a single position. I do worry, though, at his tailing off at the end of the season, similar to Santander. I hope it was just fatigue from their first full season.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          October 24, 2019 at 7:26 pm

          Are you suggesting that bikinis are not a sport?

          • willmiranda

            October 25, 2019 at 1:09 pm

            Bikinis are right up there with ESPN’s Spelling Bees that demand a rigorous workout with dentals, labials, fricatives, and plosives.

    • CalsPals

      October 25, 2019 at 7:37 am

      Defensively Villar did not play well at SS…go O’s…

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