Let’s get straight to the point. The Orioles need Ryan Flaherty. They will need him for the foreseeable future because of an injury sustained to J.J. Hardy. They will need him to bring solidarity to the bench. They will need him because he’s versatile and not a liability defensively.
To get one thing straight, we all know the O’s lineup is powerful. Like, 722 career homeruns combined between Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo, and Matt Wieters powerful. And in Camden Yards, we WILL be watching balls fly over the fence a-plenty. So, when it comes to offense, the Orioles are not looking to replace or add on to. They don’t need to do that. The power will be there.
Ryan Flaherty doesn’t bring much offensively. He has a career batting average of .215. He’s hit 32 career homeruns. He doesn’t put up big numbers at the plate. But guess who does? Almost everybody else in the Orioles’ lineup, including Pedro Alvarez and Nolan Reimold, both guys who don’t start on a daily basis either.
And that’s where the value of Flaherty really shines. Flaherty can play up to six positions with confidence and at least league average, which is more than you can ask for a utility player. Of all the positions he plays, his fielding percentage at 3rd base is lowest- which follows league consistency among all players at that position. It’s not called the “hot corner” for nothing. And because Flaherty can give you a guy off the bench that is able to fill in at these positions, it expands the Orioles’ bench.
Most teams need to stock their bench with single position players, leaving them limited in the versatility that is provided by those guys. In Baltimore, the O’s were able to sign Pedro Alvarez, a free agent power hitter who smacked 27 homeruns last year in Pittsburgh, and don’t feel like he HAS to be in the lineup everyday. They are also able to carry Nolan Reimold, a homegrown power potential candidate who can play all three outfield positions if necessary. They can do all of this while keeping Caleb Joseph on the roster to back up Wieters, allowing Wieters to have time off or play DH.
All of these effects are caused by having Flash as a utility player. There is more to baseball than a batting average, especially when it comes to players whose role is to come off the bench. So, when comparisons are made, and Flaherty’s numbers are put up against the rest of the league, remember, he’s not a starter. He’s not a good hitter. But he’s also not on the major league roster to be those things. Because, when it comes down to it, his value is through the players around him that wouldn’t be there otherwise.