Orioles Leadoff Question…Roberts or No Roberts?
One important question that is already in the minds of all Orioles fans as well as the front office/management is, will Brian Roberts be ready for the start of the season? While progress is being made with his recovery from post concussion symptoms, it is still likely that Roberts will not be the first Orioles batter of the 2012 season. This begs question number two; if not Roberts, who will leadoff?
Dan Duquette did bring in some players who could fill the role, plus there are some in-house options. These options include Endy Chavez, Nolan Reimold, J.J. Hardy Jai Miller, and Robert Andino. There are certain characteristics a leadoff hitter must possess: speed, contact ability, and patience at the plate. No one wants a leadoff hitter to hit the first pitch or strikeout to start off the game. They need to be able to set the table for the middle of the order power hitters, who will drive them in.
Based on speed factor, Endy Chavez would be the best replacement for Roberts. Chavez has shown in the past that he can be that threat on the basepaths. The darkhorse may be Jai Miller. While Miller has had success in the minor leagues both hitting for power and stealing bases, he has yet to prove it at the Major League level. J.J. Hardy serves better further down in the order as he hits for too much power.
According to the Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck, Nolan Reimold has been the leadoff hitter in Spring Training so far. Reimold presents an intriguing option, as his career high in steals is 14. In actuality, no one represents a real replacement for Roberts. As the only true speed threat in the lineup, it is very difficult to replace that production. For the time being, the Orioles can do leadoff by committee for the remainder of Spring Training.
Roberts is easily one of the most tenured and recognizable faces in the orange and black. The Orioles are going to do everything they can to hopefully guarantee that he will be on the field come Opening Day. He is a key to our team, no doubt about it. With that said, I wish him a speedy recovery. I think I speak for all Orioles fans when I say, we miss you and come back soon!