When a team is searching for an everyday shortstop there are several factors involved. The big two of course are offense and defense. Shortstop is one of the few positions on the field, along with second base and catcher, where defense can matter just as much as offense in choosing your final everyday player, if not more. The Baltimore Orioles found the guy that they love to put in everyday in J.J. Hardy.
Hardy has been steady over the years offensively and has just been better each year defensively. There have been a couple of down years with the bat but even then it didn’t affect his play with the glove. This spring however it’s not that he is slumping with the bat; he isn’t hitting at all. At last check he had 16 plate appearances this spring. With those he has one sacrifice, one hit, three walks and that is all. It amounts to a .083 batting average and .250 on-base percentage. Because it is so bad, it begs the question of whether it means anything for his season.
The answer is unclear at this point to be totally honest. There has only been one spring in Hardy’s career when he batted under .300 and that was last spring when he hit .267. As a result his numbers for last season were down offensively but he did win his first gold glove with a fielding percentage of .992. Basically, as long as Hardy doesn’t hit this badly during the season, he should be fine. His glove will keep him there even if his offensive stats decline again. With any luck for the Orioles, he’ll step it up soon and finish the spring strong.