BIRDS HOUSE: Nate McLouth, earning his keep

Written by on May 8, 2013 in Orioles, Sports - No comments

A very wise person once stated, “Never bet on the three-legged horse in the Kentucky Derby.”

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Another wise person said, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” While the first quote isn’t exactly a life changer (unless you have a gambling problem) the second quote applies heavily to the Baltimore Orioles, specifically to Nate McLouth.

Currently, McLouth is having himself a great year, but before we get to what he is doing now, let’s look at where he came from.

McLouth came up with the Pittsburgh Pirates and made his Major Leauge debut in 2005. He started to catch fire in 2008, which earned him his first, and so far only, All Star nod.

He would go on to finish the year hitting .276 (a career high) with 165 hits, 26 home runs, 94 runs batted in, 23 stolen bases, 113 runs, and a league-leading 46 doubles, all of which are career bests. He also won his only Gold Glove that year.

The following season saw him again play well, hitting .256 with 20 home runs and 70 runs batted in, not quite as strong as his 2008 numbers.  That year he was traded to the Atlanta Braves to help spark their outfield, which he did. Unfortunately for him, his next two seasons left a lot to be desired—he batted .190 in 2010 and .228 in 2011.

After that season, he was granted free agency before he signed back on with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He lasted through spring training up until the end of May; then the Pirates released him for hitting .140 in 57 at-bats. Baltimore, needing extra outfield help with Nolan Reimold out with a back injury, made a move to sign McLouth.

The move has certainly paid off.

McLouth would finish 2012 batting .268 with the Orioles in 55 games, a huge factor in Baltimore making their playoff run. McLouth also batted .318 against the New York Yankees in the ALDS with a home run and three runs batted in during their five game-series.

Over the winter, the Orioles had a decision to make: Re-sign him, or let him go? Dan Duquette decided to bring him back at $2 million for the year, proving to be yet another smart and savvy move by the Baltimore exec who probably follows the advice of “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Ok, so maybe that is Peter Angelos pulling those strings, but Duquette makes it work.

So far this season, McLouth has delivered all around.  McLouth is currently 12th in the American League in hitting, batting .313 with three home runs and 10 runs batted in.  He also is second in the AL in stolen bases with 9, second to Jacoby Ellsbury’s 12. If that wasn’t enough, McLouth has scored 25 runs in 27 games, third in the AL to Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera.

As excited as I was to see what Nolan Reimold could do with a full season, it’s good to see McLouth find his stride again and show Baltimore fans what he can do. Hopefully he can keep that pace up all season and help get the O’s back into the playoffs.

by Andy Mindzak
birds@baltimoreguide.com

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