Many questioned the move the Baltimore Orioles made to trade for shortstop J.J. Hardy in 2010. The fact that two organizations gave up on him was certainly a good enough reason for the concern. However, Hardy has continued to impress since his arrival in Baltimore. He also has made the organization look very smart in the process.
The Orioles made it to the playoffs in 2012 and a posted a record that was above .500 in 2013. There are several players that are responsible for the success, but Hardy is one player in particular that must be focused in on.
The 31-year-old has been outstanding at the plate and even more impressive in the field. He has crushed the most home runs of any shortstop in the majors over the past three years and is a two-time Gold Glove Award winner (2012, 2013). It is true that his batting average and on-base percentage are not statistics that will blow anyone away. However, his power numbers are off the charts for a shortstop.
It is hard to believe that Hardy has evolved into a team leader, a role that will be very important for him and the Orioles in 2014. The reason for that is because he was never expected to play a big role for the team when he was acquired. Even though there have been some seasons in which he hinted at the possibility of performing at a high level, there was never any consistency. Obviously, all of that has changed with the Orioles.
Hardy’s personal success has directly resulted in the success of the team because the management has been able to focus on other areas.