Yesterday, while Orioles fans were taking their lunch breaks at work, Dan Duquette was busy putting the final touches on a trade deal that sent pitcher Yovani Gallardo to the Seattle Mariners, for outfielder Seth Smith. I don’t usually throw in shameless plugs, but, Tuesday morning, I did suggest a trade that had the Orioles acquiring Smith in return. Sure, I had mentioned Brad Brach being shipped out, and in all honesty, I would much rather have it the way it ended up, but the blog itself was about how the Orioles needed to acquire someone who would improve their overall OBP.
Smith, as mentioned Tuesday, is a great on-base guy, and that’s just what the Orioles need entering 2017. He could find himself at the top of the lineup come April 3, against Toronto, and probably will find himself in right field to start the season.
To compliment the trade, the Orioles have landed a guy who hit .326/.415/.616 with RISP last season in 106 plate appearances. But, how will he be placed into the lineup next season?
This trade could be a sign that the Orioles aren’t going to hang on to both Rule-5 draft picks, Anthony Santander, and Aneury Tavarez. It could also insinuate that Joey Rickard, and Hyun-Soo Kim will now be platooning in left field, barring another free agent signing (which is not out of the realm of possibility).
But, why won’t you see a platoon of Smith/Rickard?
Well, DRS in RF would be one reason. Although not a substantial difference, Smith’s 1 DRS through 472.1 innings in RF would be a better option defensively than Rickard’s -5 through 293 innings. It would appear, at least on paper, that Smith would be the better defender. Of course, Smith also has nine years worth of experience on Joey Rickard.
Also, you can look at the plays made out-of-zone, or OOZ, for the sake of this paragraph. When comparing Smith, and Rickard’s OOZ plays in right field last season, Smith trumps Rickard again, 38-to-21.
For a team that has struggled to find an ideal candidate to take over the everyday right field duties after Nick Markakis departed in 2014, it seems as if they may finally have filled the position.
Now, let’s talk about Hyun-Soo Kim.
Having the combination of Kim/Rickard in left field isn’t such a bad thing. Between the two in left field, there were a total of 49 OOZ plays made in 2016. There also wasn’t a single error committed in 905 total innings in LF when either of those two were on patrol.
Not too shabby for a pair of first year players.
Having either Rickard, or Kim in the lineup on any given night is not only beneficial for left field, however, it’s beneficial for offensive production as well. Again, I can’t help but preach how this team needs to improve their OBP in 2017. Rickard’s OBP last season was .319 through 85 games, while Kim’s was .382 through 95 games.
It’s beneficial to have Rickard taking his cuts against left-handers, and Kim to take his versus right-handers. No way you can’t go with this combination, right?
In 90 appearances against left handed pitching, Rickard slashed .313/.367/.494, with seven walks, three home runs, and six doubles. For Kim, in his 323 appearances against right handers, he finished the season with a line of .321/.393/.446, with six home runs, 16 doubles, and 32 base-on-balls.
With the Seth Smith trade yesterday, the Orioles have made yet another deal with the Mariners that a lot of people would bet money that they came out on top. Guys like Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, George Sherrill, and Mark Trumbo have found a lot of success coming from The Emerald City.
Here’s to hoping that Seth Smith brings much of the same to the Orioles in 2017.