Which player could emerge as a difference-maker in 2013?

Good Hall of Fame debate yesterday. I appreciate all the opinions and the passionate arguments.

I’ll concede that, for a guy who’s often complained about the Hall of Fame being watered down, it was strange for me to choose 10 players on this year’s ballot. I can no longer be viewed as part of the solution.

OK, on to today’s debate.

Each winter, I try to predict which Oriole who contributed little or nothing during the previous season will emerge as a difference-maker the following year. I’ve got a few candidates in mind for 2013.

Let’s start with Nolan Reimold, who appeared in only 16 games - all in April - before landing on the disabled list and undergoing surgery to remove a herniated disc in his neck and fuse two vertebrae. Reimold totaled six doubles, five homers and 10 RBIs in 67 at-bats. He put up a .313/.333/.627 line as the starting left fielder.

Reimold will report to the Ed Smith Stadium complex unsure whether he’s going to start in left, platoon with Nate McLouth, settle in as the regular designated hitter or share at-bats with Wilson Betemit, among others. Whatever the role, a full season with Reimold could provide a big boost to the Orioles.

wada-black-sidebar.jpgLet’s continue with left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada, who still hasn’t pitched for the Orioles since signing a two-year, $8.15 million contract last December. He’s apparently ahead of schedule in his recovery from ligament-reconstructive surgery in his left elbow, which took place in May. He could join the rotation, as the Orioles envisioned last winter, or move into the bullpen.

Wada was 107-61 with a 3.13 ERA and 1,329 strikeouts in 210 career games over nine seasons with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. He went 33-13 with a 2.29 ERA in his last two seasons before moving to the U.S.

While the Orioles continue their search for another starter, they have a newbie who’s already in the organization.

I also could include Manny Machado on this list despite his contributions in 2012. He could make a real difference with a full season in the majors. Imagine how much better the Orioles could be without all those errors at third base over the first four months of the season, and with Machado’s bat in the lineup every day.

Brian Roberts might qualify as a difference-maker if you truly believe that he’ll stay healthy next season. What about a full season from McLouth? Or maybe you have high hopes for someone like Alexi Casilla or one of the minor league free agents.

Go ahead, I’m listening.

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