The regular season is over but that doesn't mean that Camden Chat is taking a break. Every Monday through Friday for the next six weeks, our writers will be reviewing most of the players who appeared in an Orioles uniform this season. First up is shortstop J.J. Hardy.
2013 was the second year of a three year, $22.25M contract for Hardy, and to this point he has more than lived up to the deal he signed. Thanks in big part to his defense, Hardy racked up an fWAR of 3.3, which was the 4th best among both A.L. shortstops and Orioles hitters.
Anyone who has watched Hardy at the plate regularly can tell you that he is a flawed batter, so let's get that out of the way. Never a high-OBP guy, Hardy continued to struggle with that in 2013. He finished the season just on the plus side of .300, which can be very frustrating. His walk rate was a low 5.9% better than only Manny Machado and Adam Jones of O's regulars.
Just as it has been throughout his career, Hardy's saving grace at the plate is his power. With an ISO of .169, Hardy is one of the best power hitting shortstops in the American League (only Stephen Drew's .190 was better for players with at least 300 ABs). He hit 25 home runs in 2013, which was tops in the A.L. by ten and was tied with Troy Tulowitzki for best in the majors. In his three seasons with the Orioles he has hit 77 home runs, which for a shortstop is simply outstanding.
Hardy was a streaky hitter this season and had three months with an OPS over .800 and two under .575. His final month was the most even as Hardy hit .308/.345/.423 (through Saturday's games....the website don't update until the morning and I have to go to work!). His best month was June when he hit ..324/.364/.520 with five home runs and five doubles.
Of course, Hardy is known first and foremost for his defense (well, that and his dashing good looks). In 2012 he had an absolutely outstanding defensive year with a DRS of 18; this year he had 8, which is back in line with his career numbers. That was good for third best in the A.L. If UZR is more your style, his UZR/150 was 6.0, down some from his usual numbers. But it was also third best (min. 1000 innings) in the American League, so not too shabby.
Hardy is under contract through 2014 and will be paid $7M next year, and he's not going anywhere. There has been talk by some fans and writers about the possibility of trading Hardy, but that won't happen. He's been a crucial part of the successful teams of the last two seasons, and for a team whose goal is to continue contending there aren't many better options for the left side of the infield than Hardy at shortstop and Manny Machado at third base.