Have I just not been playing close enough attention, or is it surprising that Vladimir Guerrero is poised to win the Orioles’ batting title?
His .293 batting average is 13 points higher than the second-best average, which belongs to Adam Jones at .280.
If Guerrero does take the title, which he will, is it a compliment to him or a slight to the rest of the Orioles hitters we expected more from?
It’s probably a bit of both. After 16 years in the big leagues, being able to bat .293 is a pretty impressive feat. It’s why Guerrero is a future Hall of Famer. But wouldn’t we like to see younger players like Nick Markakis - who is on a multi-year, multi-million-dollar deal - lead the team in batting average? Markakis has batted over .290 five of the six seasons he’s been in the big leagues. This year, he currently sits at .276.
Jones, I believe is the team’s best player. Jones flirted with .300 late in August, but since has seen his average drop to .280. Injury has played a part in that.
It’s been nice to see Matt Wieters’ power surge late in the year, but average-wise, he’s only had one good month this season. In August, he batted .302. Otherwise, Wieters has had some down months, especially in the second half. He hit .235 in July and .231 in September.
So Guerrero is your leader. Is that hard to get excited about?
For me, it is - simply because Guerrero’s ability to hit for average this year been overshadowed by his inability to hit for power or drive in runs, which is his job. Many would agree 56 RBIs from your cleanup hitter and a .413 slugging percentage isn’t going to cut it, not if you want a winning lineup.
Still, Guerrero has come to life in September, a month in which he historically finds success with a .327 career average. This month, he’s batting .400 with a slugging percentage more than .600. Against the Angels on Sunday, he went 2-for-3 with a home run, a stand-up triple and, get this, a walk.
With Guerrero’s one-year deal up at the end of this season, the Orioles will have to decide whether or not to bring him back in 2012. Buck Showalter was asked on Friday if he’d like to see the 36-year-old back as his designated hitter next season. The O’s skipper was non-committal, complimenting Guerrero on the month he’s had and his intensity playing the game, but Showalter did not say he wanted him on the roster next year.
Obviously, if the Orioles did offer Guerrero another deal, it would have to be at a reduced rate. The $8 million he received in 2011 is just way too much for player who was supposed to bring power to the lineup but ended up hitting just 13 homers as of Sept. 18.
If Guerrero does return, where should Showalter bat him in the order? With the power numbers listed above, I don’t see how he can put him fourth. Surely, Showalter would want a .293 hitter somewhere in the order. The question i, where? Not many designated hitters bat low in the order, but I don’t see Guerrero fitting in the three, four or five slots.
I suppose Showalter will cross that bridge if he even comes to it.