Over the past four seasons, the Baltimore Orioles have consistently gotten exceptional value out of bargain barrel players. Those seven home runs and 12 stolen bases Nate McLouth delivered down the stretch in 55 games in 2012 were nice. Or perhaps you prefer the .304/.335/.553 line Danny Valencia delivered in 2013. Then there was the wonderful season delivered by Steve Pearce last season — 21 home runs in 102 games ain’t too shabby.
The Orioles have made it a habit to unearth hidden gems, and when working on a shoestring budget (or maybe when dealing with a stingy, Montgomery Burns type owner), that is what you have to do to keep up with the spend thrift New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Toronto Blue Jays. This season has been no different, as Jimmy Paredes, he of five home runs in parts of four Major League seasons, has been a revelation offensively.
Paredes is on the verge of reaching enough plate appearances this season to qualify for the Major League leaderboards. When that happens, his .343 batting average will rank in the top-ten of the entire MLB. He has six home runs and 23 RBI in only 26 games this season after starting the season on the disabled list. As the Orioles continue to search for consistency from Chris Davis, wait for Steve Pearce to emerge from a season-long funk, and weather a statistical correction following Adam Jones‘s scorching hot start, it has been Paredes’ bat that has kept the offense partially afloat.
Unfortunately though, now is the time when I will have to dump water on the Jimmy Paredes parade. His success so far this season is mostly attributable to plain good luck. Paredes has hit .397 on balls in play. Clearly a correction is coming there. There is nothing in the limited batted ball velocity data that leads one to believe Paredes is smoking the ball any harder than an average Major Leaguer. His average batted ball velocity of 89.55 mph is not that much higher than Chase Utley‘s 86.96 mph. Utley is batting .159 while Paredes is batting .343. Isn’t baseball funny?
It is worth noting, that Paredes’ BAbip in a short 65 game stint in the big leagues last season was .356. Again, it’s a very small sample size. Paredes is no slouch at the plate, and does have a career .289/.323/.429 line in the minor leagues. That being said, he is due for a big statistical regression. Paredes is not the first player to come blazing out of the gate when given his first real taste of consistent Major League playing time, and he will not be the last. Pitchers simply do not have him figured out yet.
Jimmy Paredes does not have a good eye at the plate. He has swung at 45.5% of pitches outside of the strike zone this season. Interestingly enough, Paredes is batting .313 and .444 against changeups and curveballs respectively. However, he has swung and missed at 52.6% and 42.9% of those same pitches. Clearly, something’s got to give. Right now, Paredes is swinging and missing at a high percentage of the soft stuff and chasing it out of the zone. That’s not a recipe for success, but it’s working for now.
Lest I sound too down on Jimmy Paredes, let me finish up by saying this. Despite the seemingly imminent regression to the mean that is on the horizon, he has shown the potential to be a very important contributing player for the Orioles this season. He has hit at every level of the minor leagues, and may finally be really growing into the power you would expect from a 6′-3″, 200 pound hitter. Paredes has earned regular at-bats the rest of the season, and I think he will continue to get them. As Chris Davis and Steve Pearce continue to muddle along, that could be a godsend for the Orioles even if Paredes sees a slight dip in batting average.
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