At first blush, the offense was fine. It led the majors in home runs and ranked in the top 5 in the American League in runs scored, hits, total bases and, believe it or not, fewest runners left on base (second-best overall). But the Orioles were 10th of 15 AL teams in on-base percentage (.313) and only the Chicago White Sox drew fewer walks. One of the biggest problems with the Orioles offense is that it's filled with similar hitters. The Orioles have a lot of free-swinging, aggressive power types and that's fine when most are clicking. But when they go cold, there's a perceptible Arctic air at Camden Yards. Without the homer, the Orioles offense can be lost. When asked whether the low on-base percentage numbers -- a sticking point for Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette -- should be fixed by tweaking the approaches of existing players or by adding hitters from outside the organization with that skill set, Duquette said, "probably a combination of both." The good news for the Orioles is that they don't have a set designated hitter and could have openings at second base and left field (the Orioles would like to bring back Nate McLouth on another one-year deal, but he could flee if he gets multiple-year offers). So the club has the luxury of seeking out players with strong OBPs, regardless of position. The top potential free agent in terms of OBP is Cincinnati Reds outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, pictured, who has a career .389 OBP and a tremendous .423 mark this season. For comparison's sake, Chris Davis led the Orioles with a .370 on-base percentage. After Davis, no Oriole had more than 200 at-bats with an OBP over .330. The 31-year-old Choo has played all three outfield positions in his career, but he made over $7 million last year and is represented by Scott Boras, so he will not come cheaply. Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury, Paul Konerko, Mike Napoli, Carlos Beltran and David DeJesus are among the potential free agents with career on-base percentages higher than .350.
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