Besides starting pitching, three harsh realities poke Baltimore Orioles fans in the collective eyeball nearly every night.
First, Baltimore is dead last in the major leagues in fielding. In 82 games, the Orioles have committed 74 errors. This is seven more than the second-to-last team—the Tampa Bay Rays.
But the good news for the Orioles—on top of being seven games over .500—is that this team’s front office can begin to resolve these issues by acquiring a ballplayer with a proven big-league track record.
Note: Statistics used in this slideshow are taken from ESPN, and are valid through July 6, 2012.
Hands down, Polanco is the best fielding third baseman in baseball.
A three-time Gold Glove award winner, Polanco has committed just three errors in 165 chances (.982 fielding percentage) at third base this season.
This is even more impressive when one considers Polanco has primarily played second base most of his career.
With that said, check out Polanco’s lifetime fielding stats.
Talk about a reliable, versatile player; Polanco could not only play third base for the Orioles, but he could also fill in at second base in the absence of the injured Brian Roberts.
Either way, Polanco would be an instant upgrade that would immediately benefit this team.
On top of being an excellent fielder, Polanco is also an outstanding contact hitter.
While Polanco is nowhere the offensive threat he once was, he nonetheless could bolster an Orioles offense that struggles to put the ball in play at key times.
A career .300 hitter, Polanco has a history of frustrating opposing pitchers by fighting off pitches and grinding out at-bats.
This is a critical element to have as a team when facing teams in the AL East.
Much to the angst of big-league pitchers, Polanco rarely strikes out. In 6,794 career at-bats, he has been dispatched just 506 times.
By comparison, Mark Reynolds has struck out 1,032 times in 2,703 at-bats. Wilson Betemit has struck out 571 times in 1,971 at-bats.
On top of being an ironclad bat-handler, Polanco is great with runners in scoring position. For example, Polanco’s RISP with two outs this season is .296 with one home run and eight RBI.
The Orioles acquiring Polanco would certainly give this team’s power-hitting lineup a dimension it currently does not have.
A 14-year veteran, Polanco has had a tremendous career. He has been to the postseason five times; twice with the St. Louis Cardinals (2000/2001), once with the Detroit Tigers (2006) and twice with the Phillies (2010/2011).
In 2006, Polanco was the ALCS MVP, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
Polanco is also a two-time All-Star (2007/2011) and winner of the 2007 Silver Slugger award.
Yet for all of Polanco’s on-field success, he is also a great teammate and guy to have in the clubhouse. Blend Polanco with the recently acquired Jim Thome, and Baltimore would instantly have a strong veteran presence in the locker room.
Not to mention that Polanco has one of the coolest baseball names.
As a baseball fan, I love it when PA announcers introduce Polanco’s name when he comes to the plate:
For all of Polanco’s great skills and accolades, he is nonetheless in the twilight of his career. At age 36, Polanco only has a few good years remaining in the big leagues.
While Polanco does have a mutual option of $5.5 million in 2013, the Phillies could save money by trading Polanco to the Orioles.
The Orioles in turn may not have to give up much in return, which is important because the club does not have a very deep farm system.
But if the Orioles play their hand right, they could get a very gifted player for a very good price.
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