SweetSpot: Rhyne Hughes

O's first basemen still homer-free

June, 21, 2010
6/21/10
5:18
PM ET
Recently I visited a World War II museum, and a number of the displays were accompanied by (according to the placards) "factoids" ... Aren't factoids a bit too unserious for a museum dedicated to the battles and deaths of many tens of thousands of humans? Just seemed a little off to me.

Now here is a factoid: this season Baltimore Orioles first basemen have hit a grand total of zero home runs. Big League Stew's David Brown:
The franchise that gave us Boog, George Sisler, Eddie Murray, the pointy-fingered Rafael Palmeiro and, heck, even Randy Milligan, is suffering mightily at the not-so-hot corner.

The four guys who have played first base for the O's this season — Garrett Atkins, Rhyne Hughes, Ty Wigginton and Luke Scott — have combined to hit .219 with a .564 OPS.

Sounds bad, if in a nerdy sort of way. It gets worse.

No home runs. Not one. Summer has arrived and the Orioles STILL haven't had any first basemen able to go into a tater trot.

Atkins, acquired for his power, has a home run — but it came as a DH. Scott and Wigginton have positive stats, too, but while playing other positions. Once any of these guys slap on a mitt, their bats go totally limp.

That's an exaggeration, of course. Wigginton and Scott are both having fine seasons, and if one of them were handed the every-day job at first base tomorrow, those putrid numbers would improve in a hurry.

But that would just beg the question. If you move Scott to first base, you weaken the DH slot. If you move Wigginton to first base, you weaken second base (at least until Brian Roberts finally comes off the DL in August, they hope). The Orioles don't need a first baseman who can hit; they need a hitter, period.

Rhyne Hughes isn't a hitter, really. But it's a minor crime that he's spent the last five weeks languishing in Triple-A while Atkins remains on the big club's roster. What happens tomorrow night, when the Orioles need a DH again after six games in National League ballparks? Will the manager run Atkins out to first base yet again?

Unfortunately, it's essentially Atkins or (if he's recalled from Norfolk) Hughes. Among all the players on the Orioles' Triple-A roster, nobody's got an 800 OPS; at 794, 29-year-old outfielder Jeff Salazar leads the way (Hughes is second, at 781).

One way or another, an Orioles first baseman will hit a home run this season. Shoot, I'll bet they end up with around 10. But this is a major weak point, and isn't likely to be addressed all season.

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