One of the Baltimore Orioles' biggest needs this offseason is acquiring a powerful, middle-of-the-order hitter. Somebody who will drive in runs.
Somebody like Josh Hamilton.
Adding Josh Hamilton to any lineup would make said lineup better and would give any team a better shot at winning their division. There isn't much argument to that.
However, adding Hamilton to the Orioles' lineup may not be as beneficial as one may think.
Yes, Hamilton does have tremendous power and drove in a large amount of runs in his time in Texas. Hamilton would probably do some of the same in Baltimore, but he may not be as effective—namely because Texas had something the Orioles don't have: table setters.
The Rangers had Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus to hit in front of Hamilton. Who exactly would Josh Hamilton be driving in on a consistent basis as an Oriole? Brian Roberts?
The Orioles lack a true leadoff hitter. Brian Roberts cannot be trusted as reliable anymore, as he has only played 115 games in 3 years. In that time frame, Roberts had 112 hits in 459 at bats, which is only a .244 batting average. Roberts' time has passed, and he should no longer be looked at as a viable option to bat first.
J.J. Hardy batting second wouldn't help matters either, as he only hit a measly .238 in 2012. However, with the return of Nick Markakis, Hardy could be moved down in the lineup.
Markakis is also an option to bat leadoff. But if he bats leadoff, who bats second? Hardy again?
What is the Orioles' biggest need?
So, if the Orioles do acquire Josh Hamilton, Adam LaRoche, Billy Butler or another player who'd be put in the heart of the lineup, they should also acquire somebody to bat in front of him. Nate McLouth, Michael Bourn, Shane Victorino—somebody.
Besides another hitter, if the O's want a better shot at winning the AL East, adding a proven starting pitcher would be helpful. However, as reported by Roch Kubatko of MASN, Orioles' GM Dan Duquette seems happy with his current pitching staff, as he stated the following:
"We're kind of focused on filling out our lineup, our batting order. That's kind of where we're focusing. We think we've accumulated some solid pitching depth and there's a surplus of starting pitching and also a surplus of relievers on the roster, so that's not an immediate need, but we do need to fill out our ballclub. We need to fill out our lineup, our batting order."
Hopefully for the Orioles, by "filling out our lineup," Duquette is specifically talking about adding a legitimate leadoff hitter.
*Udate* - The Orioles have signed outfielder Nate McLouth to one-year deal worth $2 million.