In a season that has so far lacked in offense for the Orioles, second baseman Ty Wigginton has been the major bright spot. Injuries, young players not living up to expectations, and some veterans not hitting well has led the Orioles to last in the American League in On Base Percentage. The AL average for runs per game is 4.47; Baltimore averages 3.49 runs per game, placing them 13th in the 14-team league. Despite all of the O’s offensive problems, Ty Wigginton is putting together one hell of a year.
As of Sunday’s games, Wigginton was second in the majors in home runs with 12, second in slugging percentage at .680, third in OPS at 1.067, and second in HR/AB with a home run every 10.2 at bats. You would never have convinced me that Wigginton would put up these numbers after almost a quarter of the season has passed, and he is on his way to being the lone Orioles All-Star this year.
After the 2009 season the Orioles decided not to retain third baseman Melvin Mora and with the mid-season trade of first baseman Aubrey Huff, Wigginton had two positions he can play. However, the team decided to sign Miguel Tejada and Garrett Atkins to play third and first, respectively. With Luke Scott still the primary designated hitter and four young outfielders heading into the season, it looked like at bats may be scarce for Wigginton. When Brian Roberts got hurt, playing time opened up for Wigginton, and he has taken advantage.
When Roberts comes back, possibly in June, Wigginton can slide to first base to occupy the huge hole there currently manned by Atkins. The best thing for the team however, may be to trade Wigginton while his value is the highest it will ever be. In the three seasons before he came to Baltimore he had 24, 22, and 23 home runs, and hit between .275 and .285. Decent numbers, but obviously nowhere close to his production this year. It would be great if he could keep those numbers up, but unlikely. He can play first, second, third and has played left and right field in his career. He is 32 years old, and the Orioles are trying to stockpile young talent to build a contender. Wigginton is not a building block for the future, and the Orioles might be able to get a contending team desperate for some offense to give up something valuable in a trade.