Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy had a rough night in Texas on Thursday evening. In one game the Gold Glove winner quadrupled the number of errors he has committed – moving from just one this season to four. Two of his three errors were in the same inning and contributed to the Orioles 8-6 loss to the Rangers as a major factor, along with the five runs given up by Chris Tillman in the first two innings.
As everyone on the broadcast commented that this is a game Hardy will want to forget, he said after the game, “Yeah, I definitely want to forget about it. A couple of throwing errors, a fielding error. If Caleb (Joseph) didn’t make a nice pick on that last one, it would have been four errors. That’s just a night for me I’d like to forget.”
Hardy is having a strange season so far in 2014. Having been a regular daily feature for the Birds over his first three years with the team, he missed a number of games earlier because of nagging injuries.
But the most glaring statistic is the lack of home runs, having not hit one out of the park since September 5th of last year.
Yet at the same time, Hardy has a batting average that is well beyond his career average of .261 and on-base percentage of .313. At this moment, those numbers are .297 and .322.
So what is better – a J.J. Hardy who hits home runs at the pace of about 25 per year and bats .255, or a guy who does not hit practically any home runs but hits in the .290s to .300?
What I thought I would do is track the past four years of Hardy statistics with the Baltimore Orioles through the first 58 games of each season. I knew some of the numbers would be lower for this 2014 season by about 20% because of games missed.
Here are the raw numbers through 58 games of each of his seasons with the Baltimore Orioles …
I entered this exercise with a predisposition that I would like the current version, even without the home runs. But now I am not so sure.
If something like seven or eight of his hits for this year had been homers, his runs scored and RBIs would be close to what he had in the past. However, I cannot blame Hardy for not scoring if those who come after him are unable to bring him around. And he has had good numbers with RISP, so it is all very strange to see the minimal production despite the average.
I suppose what we all would really like to see is a shortstop with 25+ homers, a .300 average and Gold Glove defense. Maybe someday the Baltimore Orioles with have that with Manny Machado.