When the Baltimore Orioles traded Danny Valencia to the Kansas City Royals for David Lough this offseason, they were hoping they were acquiring a high-energy player who could help fill the void in left field created by Nate McLouth's departure.
So far this spring, it appears they got exactly what they hoped for.
Here are five takeaways from Lough's performance thus far for the O's.
He's been the Orioles' best defensive left fielder
Lough will be competing with Nolan Reimold and Delmon Young for playing time this season. You could probably throw Nelson Cruz into that conversation as well, although I see him playing much more DH than left field.
If he's going to beat out those other guys, it's going to be because of his defense. His instincts in left field and the closing speed he possesses are why the Orioles made the trade. So far in spring training, he's already made two spectacular catches.
He brings added value on the basepaths
Lough is fast. In fact, he's one of the fastest players in all of baseball. In an interview with Eduardo Encina of The Baltimore Sun, Orioles manager Buck Showalter praised him for his ability on the basepaths.
I think of all the guys in the American League who were timed, he had the lowest average time down the line, the fastest of anybody, which tells me two things. He can run and he can run balls out. I know some guys who run as fast as him but didn’t finish in the top 10.
So, not only will Lough be a threat to steal bases (he's second on the team with two already this spring), he'll also be someone capable of stretching doubles into triples on a regular basis.
Speaking of triples, he already has two of those this spring, as well. Watch here as he makes this look incredibly easy:
Most guys are staying at second base after a hit like that. Others might attempt to stretch it into a triple, but not without a close play at the bag. Lough jogs into third like it's nothing.
Even when he isn't starting in left, Lough could be the Orioles' most valuable bench player in 2014
For the same reasons I stated above, Lough could very well be Baltimore's best pinch runner. So when he isn't in the starting lineup, he will still have value there.
Though he's just 6-8 on steal attempts at the big league level, he was 31-40 in two years at Triple-A, per Baseball Reference.
He's a great locker room guy
Who doesn't want a teammate who is all about "intensity" and is a self-described "hard-nosed player"?
The Orioles' recent run of success has a lot to do with the talent they have, but it can also be largely attributed to the overall attitude in the locker room.
It's a very unselfish group in Baltimore. The Orioles are a team full of guys who love the game of baseball and truly believe in and trust Showalter. Every player is willing to do what's best for the team, and Lough seems like he's going to fit in perfectly.
He's the front-runner to start in left field against right-handed pitchers
So far this spring, Lough has been used almost exclusively against right-handers, where he has performed fairly well (.273 BA, .304 OBP, .455 SLG).
Last year in Kansas City, the Royals used him in a similar fashion.
|2013 Regular Season: David Lough vs RHP/LHP|
I definitely see the Orioles trotting Lough out against right-handed pitchers to start the year. Those stats against left-handers in 2013 aren't too bad, either.
Could he be the Orioles' full-time starter in left field? What do you think? Comment below.