Baltimore Orioles: Ryan Flaherty – Everyday Player Now?


Jun 21, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Baltimore Orioles pinch hitter Ryan Flaherty (3) slides to third base for an RBI two run triple in the ninth inning against Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Orioles beat Blue Jays 13 – 9. Mandatory Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

Over the years that have now accumulated of writing about the Baltimore Orioles, I think I’m generally fairly positive about the team and the players. I want them to do well, and that comes through. But there are times when they go into a funk, and I feel the need to call out the truth about something that is not right. Yet overall, as Buck would say, “I like our guys.”

Along the way, however, it is true that I’ve been pretty hard on Ryan Flaherty. And as a commentor asked me, is it time that I lighten up on the guy? His numbers have been much improved of late.

So has he finally “arrived” as an everyday player? The hope was, going into the 2014 season with Brian Roberts then in the Yankees fold, that Flaherty would inherit the job. But then Jonathan Schoop showed up, and Flash was back to his utility role.

Let me say that I have never been down on Flaherty for his defense. It is really excellent; he is a top level defensive performer. His versatility to play all over the field makes him a valuable commodity. He sticks with the team because his versatility is irreplaceable in any other package. Flaherty is a great utility man; but is he good enough to be an everyday player?

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Having rightly applauded his defense and versatility, the question is better stated by asking if he has enough offensive production to be run out there as a starter most every day.

We all know the story as to how Flaherty – a first round selection by the Cubs out of Vanderbilt – was kept by the Orioles in 2012 as a Rule 5 Draftee. He even hit a home run in the playoffs.

Right now, Flaherty is batting .248. In his first three years with the Orioles he hit .216, .224, and .221 … all of which is pretty consistent (and very mediocre).

But hitting instructor Scott Coolbaugh has been working with him to cut down on his big looping swing – to be more compact and straight to the pitch. And this seems to be working.

For the month of June, in the 20 games of the Baltimore Orioles, Flaherty has been in all of them. He has an average of .246 with three triples, a homer, and 11 RBIs.  The Orioles are a combined 13-7 in those games.

But perhaps the best is yet to come for Flaherty in June, and that is because the Orioles are going to Boston for three games this week. He seems to feel especially at home in Fenway – the MLB site where he attended most often as a boy growing up in Maine.

Earlier this season Flaherty was 6-for-11 in Boston with two doubles and a home run. In 17 career games at Fenway, he is batting an even .400 with 24 hits in 60 at-bats. This far exceeds any other place he plays.

So while I still see Jonathan Schoop as the second baseman of the future for the Orioles, I’m good with Flaherty hitting .250 to .260 until Schoop returns.  It is the .215 stuff that gets me complaining.

Next: What is wrong with Chris Tillman this year?