If there’s one theme that we as fans have seen with the Baltimore Orioles since last season, it is this: manager Buck Showalter will find a way for everyone on his team to contribute.
It seems that there is a different player contributing on a daily basis for the Orioles to attain another postseason berth; however, so far, in the first month of the 2013 campaign, one player has stood out to me.
Well, it is not Adam Jones, Manny Machado, Chris Davis, nor Matt Wieters - it’s Nate McLouth.
He is not a flashy player, or household name, but a grinder.
To be quite honest, I, like many fans and those in the media, were a bit perplexed that the Baltimore front office did not bring in any marquee players during the winter.
However, their biggest deal of the offseason was re-signing McLouth. He signed a one-year, $2 million dollar contract with incentives.
I wondered if he could repeat what he did last year for Baltimore, especially his work down the stretch of the 2012 season.
McLouth, as we all know, played an integral role in the Orioles’ first playoff berth in 15 years.
It looked as if McLouth was a star on the rise in baseball during the 2008 season. He hit 26 home runs and drove in 94 for the Pirates that year and made the All-Star team; however, his career soon went into the wilderness and McLouth looked like another potential player who would flame out.
Then the Orioles gave him an opportunity in 2012. He signed with the organization last season in June after struggling throughout a promising major league career with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves.
McLouth started with Triple-A Norfolk, but earned a promotion to Baltimore during the summer to provide depth to the big league team.
Honestly, it looked like McLouth did not have much left on the baseball field. Then again, the Orioles, under the tutelage of Dan Duquette, used the depth of their organization to succeed last season.
If that meant giving guys like McLouth - who were looking for another path back to the majors - another chance, then the Orioles were going to do it. In the end, McLouth repaid the organization for their faith in him.
During the 2012 season, in 55 games for Baltimore, McLouth batted .268 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs with a .342 on-base percentage. He also stole 12 bases.
Although McLouth’s numbers may look a tad pedestrian, he also brought a lot of intangibles to the Orioles last season. He filled in admirably for Nick Markakis in the leadoff spot after the right fielder was lost due to a broken wrist.
In addition, McLouth came up huge for the Orioles in the playoffs, specifically in the American League Division Series against the New York Yankees. He was one of the few productive offensive weapons in that series, batting .318 with a home run, three RBIs and two stolen bases.
So far in 2013, he has rewarded Baltimore’s faith in him by bolstering the offense. McLouth has been primarily used against right-handed pitching and is producing when in the starting lineup.
In 24 games, McLouth is batting .329 with two home runs, and eight RBIs with a .433 on-base percentage; furthermore, in the leadoff spot, he has become a table-setter for the rest of the lineup. As of now, he has and eight stolen bases.
He is 15-for-29 with 14 runs scored in his last nine games. Furthermore, he has reached base in 23 out of his last 37 at-bats.
Right now, fans are wondering why McLouth is not playing every day and facing left-handed pitching; however, manager Buck Showalter has been highly adept at tinkering with the starting lineup and it seems that McLouth is being given every chance to soar.
I say, let’s stick with what works; he is a major part of their success so far.
He is a platoon player right now, sharing left field with Nolan Reimold; however, if he keeps up his work at the plate, that will have the potential to change.
Who know if he can keep this all up for the Orioles, but Nate McLouth looks like a player reborn.
Anthony Amobi blogs about the Orioles at Oriole Post. His observations about the O’s appear as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. 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.