Baltimore Orioles Shortstop J.J. Hardy Needs to Step Up in 2013
Last season Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy accounted for 535 outs made, which was more than any other hitter in entire league. He also had the second most at-bats in 2013, which ultimately increased his chances of accumulating outs. Compared to seasons past, Hardy never had more than 449 outs made. His average also took a hit as he posted his second-worst season BA of .238.
The majority of the shortstops in the league are generally a source of stolen base production. Hardy had zero stolen bases last season, and has just six total SB in his eight-year career. All power and no speed, he is definitely a rarity at his position.
Buck Showalter has made it no secret that the team intends to speed things up on the base paths. They pointed to this approach by bringing in a speedy Alexi Casilla. Since Hardy does not pose a threat for speed, his performance at the plate needs to improve.
So far in Spring Training, Hardy hasn’t shaken any rust off. There is roughly 20 exhibition games to go yet, so Hardy definitely has time to get it together before opening day. Hardy has historically done well in preseason play in years past. In the past seven years, he has never hit below .300 during Spring Training. Of course, Spring Training performance is not typically a tell-all sign for what to expect.
The 2012 gold-glover has primarily batted second or first most of his career. Showalter has reportedly said they intends to move Hardy down in the order to utilize his bat power more efficiently. The shortstop is entering his third season with the team in 2013. His contract is currently set to expire in 2014, allowing him to become a free agent entering the 2015 season.