Friday, September 19, 2008

Five Pleasant Surprises from 2008

1. The Melvin Mora Renaissance - .284/.344/.488, 23 HR, 101 RBI, 117 OPS+

It's almost as if Melvin Mora invented the time machine during the offseason, went back to 2005 and sent that version of himself back to play for the Orioles of 2008. Mora had been given up for dead as far as being a productive major league bat. Outside of A-Rod, he's the most productive third baseman in the American League. The only thing negative to be said about Mora this year is that his play in the field has regressed after two straight seasons of above average glove work.

2. Luke Scott as a Regular - .270/.351/.499, 23 HR, 122 OPS+

The Orioles have been desperate for a respectable leftfielder for years and when they traded Miguel Tejada to the Astros one of the players they got back was a 30 year old platoon player and promptly handed him the starting job. Scott still doesn't hit lefties well but turned in the most productive year of his career and the best season from an Oriole leftfielder since the prime of B. J. Surhoff. A diamond in the rough turned up by Andy Macphail.

3. The Oriole Offense - 5th in Runs, 4th in OPS, 4th in HR

The Oriole offense, as a whole, put on a good show this season. When you consider how impotent the O's bats were in 2007, they put up some surprisingly good numbers in 2008.

4. Aubrey Huff Breaks Out - .314/.371/.576, 32 HR, 106 RBI, 146 OPS+

After three very average years and some offseason controversy, Huff exploded out of the gate in April and has had the best season of his career. Huff provided the offensive spark that fans were hoping for in 2007 and he would make attractive trade bait in the offseason.

5. Jim Johnson Emerges - 68.7 IP, 38 K, 2.23 ERA, 198 ERA+

A starter in the minors, Johnson was called up from Norfolk and placed in the bullpen. He became one of the better setup men in the league and a symbol of the rejuvenated Oriole relief corp.

Honorable Mentions -

George Sherrill - an afterthought in the Erik Bedard trade, George had an up and down year but he made the All-Star team and showed that he can close in this league even if he's not among the elite closers in baseball.

Luis Montanez - the late-bloomer made his major league debut and has hit .310 during his stint with the big club. Perhaps a fourth outfielder/platoon partner for Luke Scott in 2009?

Adam Jones - The Truth was up and down during the season but on the whole played a great centerfield and showed a solid bat for a player that green. Good signs for the future.

Later, Five Big Disappointments from 2008. Those will be much easier to find unfortunately...

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