When you think of the Baltimore Orioles and their offensive strategy the past few seasons, it usually consists of hitting home runs and not much else. One of Dan Duquette’s favorite traits about players is that they’re “a guy who can get on base” but it usually ends up being the opposite or they are not as good as advertised.
One player that stands out in this regard is Craig Gentry. A guy with six career home runs, two of which came last season, and a career .334 OBP, an above average OBP and really good considering Gentry is a career .260 hitter. It also helps when you have a career BB% of 7.4%, which is a little below average but compared to somebody like Adam Jones (4.4%), it isn’t horrible.
Gentry is also the “Anti-Oriole” in a sense because he plays exceptional outfield defense. So far this season he has had 6 DRS and has a UZR of 1. He leads in DRS and is 2nd in UZR behind only Trey Mancini (1.7).
In an outfield that has seen so many new faces over the past three seasons, Gentry provides a solid defensive replacement late in a ballgame or even in a spot start here and there. I know I was not the only one who questioned starting him in right field on Opening Day this year, but I am glad he was when it mattered.
As for notable plays early in the year, I am sure we all remember this one from the weekend series up in New York.
I feel that Gentry provides something to the ball club that many hoped somebody like Joey Rickard would: a solid replacement defender and pinch runner. While Rickard’s defense improved in 2017 after playing more in right field than left field, he still has his trouble with the bat like Gentry but does not make up for it by getting on base as often (.298 career OBP). The hope for somebody like Rickard, who has the advantage of being younger than Gentry, is that his walk totals increase and becomes a smarter base runner who can provide that late inning spark to get on and score from second on a single or from first on a double.
And for a team like the Orioles, they need as much speed as we can get.
For now though, Gentry does a fine job for what he is asked to do: play defense and steal bases. Nobody is expecting him to be the guy to get you 30+ home runs a season and drive in 80 runs. He fits a role well and one that the Orioles needed filled after lacking somebody like that the previous couple of years.
The hope now is that the rest of the offense can start to heat up so that Gentry is able to get on base and not be stranded out there.