Although the Orioles haven’t lived up to expectations this season, their outfield, for the most part, has put up respectable numbers (Adam Jones sports a .289 batting average with 20 homeruns and a team-leading 69 RBIs in center field and Nick Markakis sports a .287 average with 10 homeruns and 47 RBIs in right field), with the exception of the left fielders.
Left field has been the major trouble position for the Orioles this season as they are last in batting average at .201 in all of the majors, 10 points lower than the Seattle Mariners, who rank 29thin the majors.
One of the questions on my mind is why Buck Showalter has not given Nolan Reimold, who turned many heads and impressed scouts and Oriole fans in 2009, a chance to prove his ability as an everyday starting left fielder in the major leagues.
Although Luke Scott has had an injury-plagued and atrocious season after earning the Orioles’ MVP award last year, he’s manned left field for most of the summer before he was placed on the 60-day disabled list on July 23rd with a torn labrum.
The Birds have used mainly Felix Pie in Scott’s absence (with the exception of Matt Angle for a couple of games), and as I explored in my last article, Pie has struggled with his inconsistent playing time. I remember when Reimold made his debut in 2009 for Baltimore and he bursted on the scene by smashing 15 homeruns in just 104 games.
|Catcher||.259 (4th)||.232 (9th)||.246 (5th)||.203 (12th)|
|First Base||.232 (13th)||.260 (9th)||.342 (1st)||.306 (3rd)|
|Second Base||.233 (12th)||.295 (2nd)||.312 (1st)||.263 (5th)|
|Third Base||.217 (10th)||.284 (2nd)||.270 (4th)||.209 (12th)|
|Shortstop||.270 (8th)||.276 (5th)||.263 (9th)||.201 (14th)|
|Left Field||.200 (14th)||.274 (3rd)||.265 (5th)||.251 (8th)|
|Center Field||.291 (3rd)||.281 (4th)||.312 (1st)||.241 (11th)|
|Right Field||.287 (4th)||.261 (9th)||.229 (14th)||.263 (8th)|
It’s obvious that left field needs a change and without Scott for the rest of the season, I think this is a great opportunity for the young, up and coming Reimold to get an everyday shot at becoming the next Orioles regular left fielder.
Scott started 45 of his 64 appearances in left field this season where he batted only .213 over his 150 at-bats and lacked the power numbers that fans have been accustomed to since he broke in with the Birds in 2008.
Scott crushed nine homeruns (which is not terrible), but he had only driven in 22 runners at the time he was placed on the disabled list. As their left fielder, he collected seven of those nine homeruns, but he’d only driven in 17 runners on the year.
Those are not the type of numbers that the Orioles were expecting, or any team for that matter would expect out of a left fielder.
In his MVP season last year, Scott smashed 27 homeruns for the black and orange and drove in 72 RBIs for the last-place Birds, but hit at a .284 clip over 131 games for the O’s. In his two previous seasons in Baltimore, he accumulated 48 homeruns and 142 RBIs, mostly out of the left field position, although he has played first base and been the designated hitter in the past.
Common knowledge is that outfielders in the American League not only have power, but are also agile, fast and great defenders. I feel that Reimold has all of these characteristics and would be a great candidate for left field.
The Birds already have two outstanding, ambitious outfielders manning right and center field, they just need one more piece of the puzzle to ensure a talented and prominent trio for many years to come, and I do not think Scott fits the mold.
The Birds called up Reimold in May of 2009 after he began the year with the Norfolk Tides and was hitting everything in sight. At the time of his call up, he was batting at a .394 clip, with nine homeruns and 27 RBIs in just 31 games for the Triple-A ballclub.
Reimold collected 43 base hits in just 109 at-bats and he strung together 11 doubles and 18 walks. Not only was he hitting for average, but his slugging percentage was through the roof at .743 and his OPS sat above one at 1.228, both career-highs for him in the minors.
After debuting for the Birds in mid-May, Reimold put together a very respectable first season with the ballclub as he batted .279 over 104 games and he smashed 15 homeruns and drove in 45 RBIs, while collecting 100 hits in 358 at-bats.
Reimold made the ballclub out of spring training in 2010 and began the year with the Birds as one of their left fielders, sharing time with Scott; he made 14 starts throughout April, but struggled throughout the entire month.
Over the first month of the ’10 season, Reimold had hit only one homerun and drove in seven RBIs while hitting below the Mendoza line at .193 in 57 at-bats, but showed no signs of breaking out of his season-long slump.
May was not much better for the struggling Reimold, although his average did rise to .205 on the year, but he only collected one more homerun and three more RBIs throughout the first half of the month.
He was demoted back to Triple-A until the end of the minor league season and rejoined the Birds at the beginning of September, but did not enjoy the type of success he did the previous season. With the Tides over 94 games in 2010, he smashed 10 homeruns and drove in 37 runners while hitting at a .249 clip.
After making his return to the Birds, although, he did collect a three-hit and four-hit game in the last full-month of the year, he still ended the season with a very low.207 average. Reimold finished the year with only three homeruns and 14 RBIs through 39 games.
This season, Reimold has spent most of the year with the Orioles after being recalled to the majors towards the end of May. In 39 games with Triple-A Norfolk, he was only batting .237 with six homeruns and 22 RBIs.
With the Birds this year in 45 games, Reimold continues to struggle as he’s hitting only .215 and six homeruns and 18 RBIs. Although his average is lower than he would like, he averages a homerun every 20 at-bats, which if he were to play an entire season with the club and accumulated around 500-550 at-bats, he would be on track for around 25-28 homeruns and 71-79 RBIs.
Those are the types of numbers that a left fielder should put up and I think, if Reimold was given a shot as an everyday player for the Orioles, he would be able to be consistent and string together a respectable season for the Birds.
I do not think that Scott is the answer to the Orioles’ left field woes and honestly, I think Reimold has a better shot than Pie at being the everyday left fielder in the future. I think Reimold is a better choice because he has more power, and is younger and able to adjust more easily than Pie, who has never really had a consistent playing career in the majors.
With Scott being out for the remainder of the season, I think that Reimold will be the main left fielder, sharing time with Pie of course, and this is his time to shine and show Buck what he can do.
The Orioles are out of it obviously and August and September will be a great time to impress the manager and the fans. He needs to go out there and continue to play defense and put up consistent power numbers.
With the exception of the 2009 season when he put up his best numbers in the majors, he hasn’t really been given the opportunity to showcase his talent, and I understand that he hasn’t put up the best numbers in the minors, but the majors and minors are different and I just think he deserves the opportunity to get a chance.
No one else has been able to claim the left field position since Scott injured his labrum, and the Birds are in desperate need of a left fielder for the future, so why not Reimold?
I would like to see Reimold drive in more runners, but the only way he’s going to be able to do that is if Showalter gives him a chance and he comes through. He’s only 27 years old, so there’s still time for him to learn and grow as a major leaguer, but he needs to impress quickly.
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About the Author
Written by Alex Van Rees
I am 22 years old and I recently graduated from James Madison University this May with a BA degree and a major in journalism. I live in Reston, VA, about 20 minutes outside of Washington. I am looking for an entry-level position with a sports media company where I can demonstrate my writing, interviewing and technical skills to better the organization.