Tuesday, October 20, 2020

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2015 Orioles preview: J.J. Hardy

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Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke Jones is the Ravens and Orioles beat reporter for WNST BaltimorePositive.com and is a PFWA member. His mind is consumed with useless sports knowledge, pro wrestler promos, and movie quotes, but he struggles to remember where he put his phone. Luke's favorite sports memories include being one of the thousands of kids who waited to get Cal Ripken's autograph after Orioles games in the summer of 1995, attending the Super Bowl XXXV victory parade with his father in the pouring rain, and watching the Terps advance to the Final Four at the Carrier Dome in 2002. Follow him on Twitter @BaltimoreLuke or email him at Luke@wnst.net.

With Opening Day just under four weeks away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2015 Orioles every day as they try to defend their American League East title this season.

March 9 – Adam Jones
March 10 – Chris Tillman

SS J.J. Hardy

Opening Day age: 32

Contract status: Under contract through the 2017 season with a vesting option for 2018

Minor-league options remaining: Need player permission to option due to five years of major league experience

2014 stats: .268/.309/.372, 9 HR, 52 RBI, 56 R, 0 SB, 569 PA

Why to be impressed: Despite back problems that lingered throughout the season, Hardy earned his third consecutive Gold Glove and still managed to appear in 141 games. His .268 average and .309 on-base percentage were his highest marks since his first season with the Orioles in 2011.

Why to be concerned: Back issues are the last thing you want to hear for a middle infielder on the wrong side of 30. The ailment zapped Hardy of his typical power as he hit only nine homers — his lowest total since 2010 — and collected only 37 extra-base hits after finishing with 52 or more in three straight seasons.

2015 outlook: Hardy spent the winter strengthening his core and declares his back to be better, which should allow his power to return after he failed to hit a homer until late June last year. His defense alone makes him very valuable and he’ll hit double-digit homers, but age and his back history make it unlikely that we’ll see the same level of offensive production from a few years ago.

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