Baltimore Orioles: J.J. Hardy and O’s Clutch Hitting


Jun 10, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy (2) hits a rbi double during the second inning against the Boston Red Sox at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Tabulating game-winning RBIs is not a statistical category officially kept by Major League Baseball anymore (as it was from 1980-1988), but J.J. Hardy is a master of it. His two-out, RBI single that broke a scoreless tie with the Phillies goes down as the game-winning RBI in the Baltimore Orioles’ 4-0 victory on Monday night.

Actually, the statistic is still calculated in some places (as can be see here on the site), and J.J. Hardy has accomplished it six times this season. This is especially impressive considering that he has only played in 34 of the Orioles’ 63 games.

Hardy ranks as the very best in MLB in terms of the percentage of his RBIs being of the game-winning variety. He only has a total of 11 runs batted in, so 55% rates as the best in the sport right now.

Hardy is in the top 15 of MLB players in this odd stat, while Adam Jones is actually in a four-way tie for fourth place with a total of eight game-winning RBIs. The leader is Nelson Cruz with a total of 10, which is two more than he had for the entire season last year. Chris Davis had the highest number for the O’s in 2014, tallying 11 such RBIs.  

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To be very truthful and frank, it is good that Hardy has been hitting well in clutch situations. His overall production is not terribly special, with a current average of just .217; but his number with runners in scoring position is and outstanding .360! On the other end of the spectrum, Hardy is hitting just .181 with none on base, and .174 with a runner on first.

Just a couple of years ago, even as the Orioles were well on the way to becoming a top-tier team again, it was very frustrating to see how very often the Birds were simply unable to get a clutch hit to score a critical run. That has not continued to be true, as the Baltimore Orioles are among the best teams in this category.

For the 2015 season, the Orioles are #2 in all of MLB with a .299 average with runners in scoring position (RISP). Not surprisingly, the best team is Toronto at .301. Though the O’s are not quite as good with two outs and RISP, they still rank #7 with an average of .266. They were #6 in both of these categories in 2014; and looking back to 2012, they were only #16 and #17 – so, lots of improvements.

Summary thoughts on the Orioles’ 4-0 victory

It was a win. Whereas it is disappointing to only see five hits registered against the Phillies, there was the big hit by J.J. Hardy mentioned above, along with the three-run homer by Matt Wieters.

Wei-Yin Chen had one of his best games as an O’s pitcher in his years in Baltimore. His stuff was very good – going eight innings and giving up only four hits while striking out nine. It was a combination of good stuff and command, along with, quite frankly, pitching against a terribly weak baseball team.

I have to say that I still cannot believe Wieters has come back to play this well. It proves to be a good decision to give all of the rehab time possible, as clearly he was not ready in any way during spring training. He is currently 9-for-27 with two homers and seven RBIs since coming back.

Miscellaneous other news

Reports are that Andy McPhail may be headed to the Phillies organization in some role. That would be interesting. They guy is a better baseball person than he is generally given credit for around Baltimore.

Ryan Lavarnway has now joined the Atlanta Braves team. Kevin Gregg opted out of a deal with the Mariners. He had a previously horrible start with the Reds this year. If you regular readers think I’m kinda hard on Flaherty, you can’t imagine how I went off in years past about Gregg!

The O’s are going to have some roster moves – perhaps by the time you read this. Chris Parmalee is coming up, so someone has to go out. I have no idea on this one.