The one thing that has been a common occurrence all season for the Orioles is a lack of production from the right-handed DH spot. Steve Pearce (.723 OPS in 49 PAs vs RHP) Danny Valencia (.699 OPS in 47 PA vs RHP) and Nolan Reimold (.595 OPS in 50 PAs vs RHP) have not exactly been a master of disaster against the southpaws.
With Pearce on the disabled list and Reimold done for the season, Valencia is the current option and he hasn’t had a major league hit since June 16th, going 0-for his last-20. Valencia of course is better than this current cold streak and has traditionally hit left-handers well in his career (.814 Ops in 373 PAs), so the Orioles may want to ride out this cold streak and see if he can turn it on down the stretch.
If they don’t though, they have some options. On the roster they have recently promoted left-handed hitting outfielder Henry Urrutia. Urrutia hit left handers pretty well in the minors (.832 in 77 PAs) and has looked good against them in his very limited time in the majors so far by collecting a hit and lining out sharply in his other PA. With his ability to hit to all fields it’s not surprising that he can handle lefties pretty well.
The wild card in all of this though may be Norfolk outfielder LJ Hoes, who has been on an absolute tear in AAA. Hoes is batting .368/.442/.500/.942 over his last ten games with a 5-2 BB-K ratio. On the season the 23-year old has a .464 OBP in 87 PAs against southpaws.
Another thing to consider is that Hoes can play all three outfield positions and both McLouth and Markakis are left-handed hitters. Markakis in particular has been very poor against left-handed pitching (.595 OPS in 157 PAs) this season and although it’s too early to call for a straight platoon, Hoes could be a nice alternative against particularly tough lefties.
Hoes will not bring the power potential that Valencia brings to the batter box, but Hoes is an on base machine and might look pretty good DHing against lefties while giving Markakis and possibly McLouth occasional days off against tough lefties.
Besides, both Urrutia and Hoes have not shown much of a platoon difference in the minors and both have shown an ability to get on base. The Orioles have plenty of power guys in the lineup so having guys like Hoes and Urrutia as on base guys in the lineup can only strengthen Buck Showalter’s lineup and late game options.
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Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.