2016 Orioles preview: J.J. Hardy

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With Opening Day less than a month away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2016 Orioles every day as they try to return to the playoffs for the third time in five years this season.

March 1 – Adam Jones
March 2 – Chris Tillman
March 3 – Jonathan Schoop
March 4 – Brad Brach
March 5 – Nolan Reimold
March 6 – Yovani Gallardo
March 7 – Matt Wieters
March 8 – T.J. McFarland
March 9 – Dariel Alvarez
March 10 – Brian Matusz

SS J.J. Hardy

Age: 33

Contract status: Under contract through the 2017 season

2015 stats: .219/.253/.311, 8 HR, 37 RBI, 45 R, 0 SB, 437 PA

Why to be impressed: While injuries completely zapped Hardy of any offensive value, the veteran shortstop continued to play strong defense and was worth four defensive runs saved above average in 2015. You also have to respect Hardy playing through a torn labrum in his left shoulder that was sustained in spring training as he still went on to play in 114 games last season.

Why to be concerned: Hardy’s .564 on-base plus slugging percentage was a nightmare as he finished with a career-high strikeout rate and career-low extra-base hit rate in 2015. It remains to be seen whether forgoing shoulder surgery was the right choice for the veteran, and that’s not even considering his back issues that have become more problematic over the last two season.

2016 outlook: The days of Hardy being a 30-homer threat appear to be long gone, but the Orioles would be thrilled if he could at least approach his 2014 offensive production, which included a .682 OPS. If manager Buck Showalter wants to maximize the player he can be at this point in his career, Hardy needs regular days off with a goal of playing roughly 135 games.

2016 not-so-scientific projections: .245/.288/.365, 11 HR, 45 RBI, 57 R, 0 SB, 535 PA

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