Baltimore Orioles: 6 unsung players playing vital roles in 2017

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 30: Trey Mancini
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 30: Trey Mancini /
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Baltimore Orioles: Welington Castillo
Baltimore Orioles: Welington Castillo /

1. Welington Castillo, C

The last unexpected contribution is probably the least surprising, but probably the biggest.

Going into the season, the Orioles didn’t know what to expect from their catchers. Caleb Joseph was coming off a dismal year where he had ZERO RBIs. Zero. Welington Castillo was signed as a free agent, and had a reputation for being a powerful bat, but not great defensively.

Well, both players have worked to change the narrative this year. Buck Showalter has used both frequently, partly due to injuries to Castillo, partly due to their effectiveness.

Castillo has played in 76 games and is hitting .300/.338/.500 with 16 home runs, 10 doubles, 46 RBIs and 38 runs. Joseph has played in 75 games and is hitting .274/.305/.444 with eight home runs, 12 doubles, 26 RBIs and 30 runs. That’s a total of 24 HRs, 22 2Bs, 72 RBIs and 68 runs from your catchers.

Castillo has been hot at the plate of late, but it is important also to realize he has thrown out 50 percent of base stealers, which ranks atop the American League. On the other hand, Joseph has thrown out just 20 percent.

In 2016, he had 10 passed balls, most in the National League. In 2017, he only has five so far. Castillo has also turned nine double plays as a catcher, most in the American League.

The play of the Orioles’ catchers is set to get a boost as rosters expand. As long as games are competitive, expect to see either ‘Beef’ or Caleb in the game. But, if the Orioles have a commanding lead, don’t be surprised to see whoever is called up, whether Chance Sisco or Francisco Pena, get some time behind the plate.

Another benefit that comes from adding a third catcher is the Orioles can get both catchers in the starting lineup, with one behind the plate and one at DH.

The Orioles’ catcher tandem may not have the name or statistics of Posey or Molina or Perez, but they have been excellent as a duo for Buck Showalter, and Buck has done a terrific job managing their usage.

Next: Orioles' Veteran Starters Need to Keep Pace

The Baltimore Orioles are a team that needs to squeeze out every inch of success from their roster, and these players some would consider being on the fringe of the roster have been solid contributors so far in 2017.