In his nine seasons of professional baseball, Ty Wigginton has been somewhat of a journeyman.
Playing on his sixth team, Wigginton was signed two offseasons ago as a utility guy that could be an insurance policy if a starter went down with injury.
When the season began, Wigginton was looked at as a disposable piece. With an infield of veterans like Miguel Tejada, Cesar Izturis, Brian Roberts, and Garrett Atkins/Luke Scott, Wigginton was the odd man out. That sentiment only got worst when the Orioles traded for Julio Lugo.
Because of the acquisition of Lugo, when Brian Roberts got injured, Wigginton wasn’t even the first option. However, he was given the chance when Lugo's bat was nonexistent and manager Dave Trembley was desperate to try anything new to spark the offense.
Since then, Wigginton has been Baltimore's sole bright spot at the plate. He leads the team in home runs, RBI, and average. In fact, if he didn't emerge as a guy who could knock guys in, the Orioles might be looking at an average with RISP lower than the already microscopic .239 it is at now.
Going into this season, I listed about a dozen X-factors for the Orioles offense. This list included Roberts, Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Felix Pie, Nick Markakis, and Atkins.
Wigginton was about as far away from that list as the Orioles are to the Rays in the standings. Now, he is the only thing keeping O's fans from having a full-scale riot.
In a best-case scenario, Roberts could be back by mid-June, but even if he is able to stay healthy (odds are similar to Ken Griffey Jr. speaking to Larry LaRue of the Tacoma News Tribune) , it won't be the end of Wiggy. There is no way Wigginton is kept out of the lineup, especially with the void of production at first base.
As of right now, the Orioles are the only team in baseball that hasn't had a first baseman hit a home run. Atkins has been a total bust, Rhyne Hughes was just demoted, and prospect Brandon Snyder has struggled in AAA Norfolk. When Roberts returns, it is only fitting that the Orioles fill that void with the one power hitter they have.
If that is able to fix this one particular problem, the O's can focus on another problem, such as the bullpen, baserunning, or clutch hitting. Notice that starting pitching isn't on that list for the first time in a decade.
It gets harder and harder to write about the Orioles these days, and Wigginton has kept it bearable for me these last few weeks. Maybe things will get better for a team that seems to have holes bigger than that of the Titanic, but until then, I will hold on to what I can get.