Olivia Witherite: The not-so-hot corner

With great wins and exciting baseball, it may seem easy for many to focus on the positives. However, the other day I received a tweet that asked what was going wrong with the Orioles’ defense.

The Battle of the Beltways behind them, the Orioles have emerged from the weekend tied with the Dodgers for the most wins in baseball. The Birds also lead the majors in home runs with 64. However, there is one glaring statistic that the Orioles should not be so proud of: leading the league in errors with 40.

Although off to a very great offensive start through the first two months, the Orioles’ defense is costing the team runs that, soon, they will not be able to spare. For instance, take yesterday’s 9-3 loss to the Nationals.

The Orioles were looking at one out with Bryce Harper on first base. However, on a Ryan Zimmerman hit, Robert Andino botched a throw, which allowed Harper to advance to third and eventually cross the plate on a sacrifice fly by Adam LaRoche.

This is just one of many errors that have cost the Orioles this season. Over the course of 42 games, the Orioles have the worst fielding percentage in the American League.

Beyond letting runs score, the wear that miscues put on the bullpen adds to the inexcusable nature of too many team errors. These errors are not only allowing runs, they are taxing pitchers in a way that will be felt very strongly come August.

Yesterday, although reliever Dana Eveland should have been out of the eighth, the Andino error forced him to face two more batters. For a ‘pen that is already being heavily taxed due to starters not being able to go deep and extra-inning games, the last thing that the O’s need are for relievers to throw more pitches than necessary.

Most of these errors on the year have come at third base. Steve Tolleson has committed two errors at third, and Wilson Betemit and Mark Reynolds each have six at the hot corner.

With former Oriole Miguel Tejada now at Triple-A Norfolk, the time has come for all infielders, particularly those at third base, to get their defense under control quickly. If not, not only may they find a tired, losing team in a few weeks, they may also find themselves losing playing time to the veteran.

Will Tejada be given a chance at the major league level? Will the team be able to turn around the errors to help the pitchers? Does the great offense outweigh the sloppy defense? Only time can tell.

One thing, however, is for certain: The errors need to be controlled while fans still have something positive - a great record - to cheer for. Or else there will be more and more people asking what went wrong with the Orioles’ defense.

Olivia Witherite blogs about the Orioles at Birds Watcher, and her opinions appear here as part of MASN’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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