Whether you like it, hate it, or are apathetic, Garrett Atkins is an Oriole. We've all heard about Atkins' decline, but honestly I don't know that much about his career. He's only played in the National League, and out west at that, so I've never had much exposure to him. In an effort to hear from someone who actually watched him play, I reached out to Russ Oates at Purple Row and asked him a few questions about our new acquisition.
1. The Orioles went after Garrett Atkins as soon as he was non-tendered, and after he signed the Baltimore Sun wrote that, "[t]he Orioles did plenty of research on Atkins, including a study on how the Rockies' hitters-friendly ballpark, Coors Field, affects different players," and Andy MacPhail was quoted as saying, "The fact that we were aggressive as we were in terms of the timing and trying to get it done reflects our level of confidence" in Atkins." Do you think Atkins has a chance to turn it around at the plate, or does his three year decline indicate that he's completely cooked?
Orioles fans need to hope that 2009 was the bottom of the pit for Atkins. With Josh Bell and Brandon Snyder (who play the positions Atkins can) probably half a season away from the majors, Atkins will need to rebound if he hopes to last in the majors for a few more years. The loss of power is very alarming, and if he doesn't find his stroke again it won't be long until he starts riding the bench in favor of younger talent. The confidence O's management has shown might help Atkins since he played the end of the season knowing he wasn't coming back.
2. Atkins has been rated below average defensively at both 1B and 3B, although he's logged a lot more time at 3B. Right now it's up in the air as to which position he'll play for the Orioles. Which position should we hope he ends up playing? Does it matter?
Atkins played first base in college, but any first baseman drafted by the Rockies would need to move to a different position with Todd Helton entrenched there. Atkins has come along way with how he's handled the hot corner, but he's serviceable at best there. His limited playing time at first with the Rockies came because Todd Helton started to receive more rest. Atkins will surprise you every so often with a nice play at third, but Brooks Robinson he ain't.
3. For those of us who like to know almost as much about our players personalities as we do their skills, what can you tell us about Atkins as a person/teammate, etc.?
Atkins stayed with the Holliday family during Spring Training and was a babysitter for Matt's children.
4. Anything else you think the Orioles fans should know about their new corner infielder?
He once hit an inside-the-park home run at Petco Park, something thought impossible. Also, he was Chase Utley's roommate while the two were at UCLA. Oh, and check out the box score for the 29 April 2008 game against the Giants.