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Orioles getting by without much pop at second base

BaseballAlexi CasillaBaltimore OriolesRay FlahertyBrian RobertsYamaico Navarro

When it comes to second basemen, few teams are getting less offensive production in 2013 than the Orioles.

The Orioles started the season with Brian Roberts at second base, but he made it two and a half games before heading back to the disabled list. While waiting for oft-injured Roberts to return, something that might happen next month, they have used Ryan Flaherty, Alexi Casilla and Yamaico Navarro to hold down the position.

Navarro, who is currently with Triple-A Norfolk, showed a little bit of promise in limited plate appearances. But Flaherty and Casilla -- who have played in 46 and 34 games, respectively -- have been mostly ineffective.

Flaherty, who has had more than twice as many at-bats as Casilla, is batting .161 with two home runs and eight RBIs. Casilla is batting .211 with five RBIs. Combined, they have 12 extra-base hits.

Only one MLB team has gotten fewer hits from second basemen than the Orioles (51). Only two have fewer home runs (two). Their .208 batting average ranks 29th in the major leagues and their .290 slugging percentage and .558 OPS are dead last.

But solid defensive play has buoyed the 2B position a little.

Orioles second basemen have committed just four errors -- Navarro had two in eight games, which explains the limited plate appearances -- and their .988 fielding percentage ranks ninth in baseball.

Led by Flaherty and Casilla, the Orioles have seven defensive runs saved at second base, which is tied for second in the major leagues. Their 7.1 ultimate zone rating at second base tops the league.

Manager Buck Showalter can deal with a lack of offense at second, especially considering his Orioles are second in baseball in slugging percentage and fourth in batting average and runs scored.

“There are nights when we have enough offense where [playing good defense is] all our guy needs to do,” Showalter said in May.

But he won’t stand for shaky defense from his second basemen.

That’s why Showalter and the Orioles are sticking with Flaherty and Casilla for the time being -- we’ll see how the return of Roberts affects the timeshare at second -- despite a lack of pop at the plate.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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BaseballAlexi CasillaBaltimore OriolesRay FlahertyBrian RobertsYamaico Navarro
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