Matt Wieters: One of the biggest busts in baseball history has showed everyone who doubted him why they were wrong. The two biggest knocks on his game before this season were his defense and his right-handed hitting. Well, this year was better. While becoming (probably) the best defensive catcher in the majors (earning an All-Star appearance for it) and allowing just 1 passed ball all year, in addition to throwing out 36% of runners, he also has batted .348/.429/.696 against LHP as a RHB with 10 HR. How ridiculous is that? While his overall numbers can use some work (especially his OBP), He's going to be here, and going to be good, for a long time.
If there was ever a season in need of a silver lining, it's this one. A season that started with expectations of grand mediocrity crashed and burned into another wasted season. Yet, to the optimistic (and slightly delusional) observer, a ray or two of sunshine can be seen.
2nd Base: When it became obvious that Brian Roberts was going to be out for the rest of the season, Birdland suffered from collective heartburn. The travesty that was SS and 2B last year was flashing before my eyes. I couldn't take another year of that. Luckily, we had new/old JJ at short (we'll get to him soon), but 2B has not only not been the black hole of sucktitude I was expecting, but gave Robert Andino, and later Ryan Adams, to get extended looks at the keystone. They certainly made the most of it. Andino was solid all year, and while he isn't starter material, I think that he will be a very valuable back-up at 2B, SS and 3B. Adams also has a shot at the starting job next year, even if his batting stats are buoyed by a .383 (!) BABIP.
J.J. Hardy: AM might suck at signing good free agents, but no one can complain about his trades. Getting J.J. for two minor league scrub relievers made this entire season watchable (imagine 2008 happening at shortstop again). Even with a .272 BABIP indicating some bad luck this year, J.J. put up good numbers at the plate, and can handle himself in the field. His plate discipline needs a lot of work (although he was pretty far off his career norms) and his hitting swings wildly from month to month, but the FO made a good decision to wrap him up at a below-market price to hold the fort until Machado is ready. If he stays healthy, he'll be fun to have around.
Who was the O's most pleasant surprise of 2011?
J.J Hardy (95 votes)
Matt Wieters (23 votes)
The 2nd base squad (Andino/ Adams) (16 votes)
Other (comments) (3 votes)
137 total votes