Guest Post by Cody Colston. You can follow him at @The_OtherCody.
Nate McLouth’s hot streak the past 2 weeks, (19-for-51, 9 RBI, 8 walks and 6 stolen bases) has raised a really good question: Should he be playing every day?
McLouth was picked up by the O’s last year in June when the Pirates released him. He quickly emerged as the Orioles solution in left field, which was a rotation of Endy Chavez, Ryan Flaherty, Xavier Avery, Steve Pearce, Steve Tolleson, and Lew Ford, and provided much needed stability after the season ending injury to Nolan Reimold. McLouth hit .268, had 18 RBI, 7 home runs, and 22 walks in 236 plate appearances and had 12 stolen bases in the regular season.
McLouth brings a lot to the table when he plays, a gold glove in the field (he won one in 2008 with the Pirates), great at-bats which normally go deep into the count, good contact hitting, very underrated power hitting, and great base running, something the O’s lack.
He was an everyday player with the Pirates, so has shown he can tough out a whole season. Nate allows the O’s best pure hitter, Nick Markakis, to hit with guys in front of him in the lineup and allows the cleanup hitter to hit with more base runners.
Now with that resume wouldn’t you ask yourself: Why isn’t this guy starting? Well, two reasons:
1. Nate is a career .222 hitter with only 14 homeruns against left handed pitchers, as opposed to hitting .260 with 74 home runs against right handed pitchers. I can’t blame Buck for playing the percentages, that’s what he’s paid to do, but Reimold looks lost at the plate and seems to be flailing at everything so far this season, which brings me to my next point.
2. Nolan Reimold. He was on pace to have a break out year last year, he was hitting .313 and had 5 homers in 16 games before he was sidelined for the rest of the season with a herniated disk in his neck. So far this season he’s batting a measly .200 with 4 homers, 9 RBIs, and has been a big part of DH (Doesn’t Hit) woes.
Reimold is younger than McLouth and has shown he can produce, which is why I think the O’s are waiting to see if Reimold pans out before making any major decisions. I believe it’s safe to say if he doesn’t get it together before Betemit comes back from injury, he will see an even smaller role on the team.
Now I’m not going to lie, I’m a big Nate McLouth fan. I want to see him in the lineup every day and be the table setter for the rest of the offense. Watching Nolan Reimold flail his bat at the plate is cringe worthy and having Nate play every day in the field will motivate Nolan to get out of the hitting slump he is in. I also think that once Betemit comes back, he plays DH vs. righties and Riemold plays DH vs. lefties, until he proves he can hit after his injury, but Riemold plays left field at National League parks because of the power he offers.
I’m not trying bash Nolan Reimold either, I just believe that McLouth is the better option at the moment and offers more until Reimold can prove he can hit again. Whether you agree with me or not, you have to admit, this is a good problem for the Buck and the O’s.