What can the Orioles do to upgrade their offense?

If you live by the home run, you die by the home run. The Orioles hit the second most in baseball in 2012. They hit three -- all solo shots -- while scoring just 15 runs in six postseason games.<br>
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Those three homers were hit by unlikely sources: Leadoff man Nate McLouth, rookie Manny Machado and Rule 5 pick Ryan Flaherty. The main brutes in their lineup couldn't get it going and, by Game 5 of the ALDS, were swinging from their heels, trying to hit a bases-empty grand slam on each pitch.<br>
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It's pretty obvious this club needs more selectivity at the plate and better production with runners in scoring position. A high on-base percentage is a hallmark of a Dan Duquette club, and the 2012 team was among the worst in the AL. So that likely will be a focus in the offseason. But the Orioles aren't the only ones that covet OBP, and there aren't many free agents who could bring a big boost in that category.<br>
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The best, of course, is troubled slugger Josh Hamilton, who will be the biggest free agent fish. He has a lifetime OBP of .363, would be the perfect cleanup hitter for the Orioles and could man left field. But he¿ll be exceptionally expensive and comes with plenty of risk -- including an eye-focusing condition that led to a disastrous end of 2012.<br>
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It's more likely that Duquette will have to work his magic with "undervalued assets" to better the club's on-base and scoring possibilities.

If you live by the home run, you die by the home run. The Orioles hit the second most in baseball in 2012. They hit three -- all solo shots -- while scoring just 15 runs in six postseason games.

Those three homers were hit by unlikely sources: Leadoff man Nate McLouth, rookie Manny Machado and Rule 5 pick Ryan Flaherty. The main brutes in their lineup couldn't get it going and, by Game 5 of the ALDS, were swinging from their heels, trying to hit a bases-empty grand slam on each pitch.

It's pretty obvious this club needs more selectivity at the plate and better production with runners in scoring position. A high on-base percentage is a hallmark of a Dan Duquette club, and the 2012 team was among the worst in the AL. So that likely will be a focus in the offseason. But the Orioles aren't the only ones that covet OBP, and there aren't many free agents who could bring a big boost in that category.

The best, of course, is troubled slugger Josh Hamilton, who will be the biggest free agent fish. He has a lifetime OBP of .363, would be the perfect cleanup hitter for the Orioles and could man left field. But he┬┐ll be exceptionally expensive and comes with plenty of risk -- including an eye-focusing condition that led to a disastrous end of 2012.

It's more likely that Duquette will have to work his magic with "undervalued assets" to better the club's on-base and scoring possibilities.

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ABOUT THE BLOGGERS

Eduardo A. Encina left the Florida sun in 2012 to return home and cover the Orioles. A Jessup native and University of Maryland graduate, Encina previously covered another AL East team, the Tampa Bay Rays, for the St. Petersburg Times and the Tampa Tribune.

Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 16 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 12 seasons, including the past eight with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Dean Jones Jr. is the sports content editor overseeing Orioles coverage. A Towson University graduate, he started working at The Baltimore Sun in 2007. He previously managed high school sports coverage and also covered the Orioles minor league teams.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for decades. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer.

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