The Orioles got a lot of random, unexpected contributions from a variety of sources in 2012. Castoffs like Nate McLouth, Chris Davis, and Jason Hammel all played huge roles on Baltimore last season, and they were critical to the team's success when combined with guys like Wei-Yin Chen, Adam Jones, Jim Johnson, and Matt Wieters. So, who will the Orioles look to in 2013 as their x-factor?
My x-factor for the Baltimore Orioles in 2013 is Nolan Reimold.
Reimold isn't penciled in as a starter for Baltimore in 2013. McLouth and him will likely serve in a platoon to start the year, but I think that Reimold will take over on an every day basis sooner rather than later. Reimold had great seasons for the Orioles in 2009 and 2011, belting 15 homers in the former and 13 in the latter while showing pretty good plate discipline in both seasons. But Reimold spent most of 2010 in the minors after a slow start to the season, and missed nearly all of 2012 with a herniated disc in his neck. There's definitely cause for concern with Reimold.
But when healthy, he's raked. In 916 career plate appearances, Reimold has a .194 ISO, a walk rate of 9.7%, a strikeout rate of 19.0%, and a .346 wOBA. That's a pretty damn good statline, even if his outfield defense isn't really up to par and helps sabotage his fWAR. The 29-year old also doesn't possess significant splits against lefties and righties, with his overall stats against both looking pretty similar.
Baltimore is counting on McLouth to have a season reminiscent of his 2012 in order to contend again in 2013, and I really don't think that's going to happen. McLouth was awful with the Braves in 2010, better (but still bad) in 2011 with Atlanta, and a complete disaster in 2012 with the PIrates before finding new life with the Orioles. With Baltimore, McLouth's second half was powered by a .306 BABIP that was higher than any BABIP he had ever posted in his career up until that point. His scorching second half marked his best half season since the first half of 2009 with the Pirates, before they dealt him to Atlanta.
Going into the year, left field is McLouth's job. But by the end of the season, I think Reimold will have earned the lion's share of playing time in left for the Orioles, and he will have provided more value to the team than McLouth.