Yesterday, Steve Pearce gave the Orioles a 4-3 win over the Houston Astros after smacking a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning. Despite Pearce's important performance, first base has been a weak point for the 2015 Baltimore Orioles. The South Carolina alum has failed to recreate his magical 2014 campaign and Chris Davis, a former All-Star who has seen the bulk of the time at first, seems lost at the plate on a regular basis. Is it time to shake things up at the three-spot on the diamond?
As a position, Orioles first basemen are slashing .214/.293/.474. Much of this is due to Davis who is hitting .219 as a first baseman while leading the team with eight home runs and third on the club with 22 RBI. When Pearce plays first base, he has batted .192 with three home runs and six RBI.
Both men have especially struggled against right-handed pitching. Davis is hitting .193 with 55 strikeouts over 38 games. Against lefties he is batting .281 with only seven K's over 20 games. However, his days off tend to come against tough southpaws.
Pearce is hitting poorly against all pitchers but has done just a bit worse with same-sided hurlers, which he is batting .181 against with three homers over 30 games.
So, while a position that has a lefty and a righty may seem to suggest a platoon situation, this one doesn't fit right now.
In the field
A player's skills with the leather aren't as important at first as they are elsewhere on the diamond, but the O's have two players who can hold their own.
Pearce has been the slightly better of the two thus far, accumulating a UZR/150 of 4.1 through 61.6 innings at first base. Davis is just behind with a UZR/150 of 2.5 through 307.2 innings.
The reason this is even a question is that it looks like the Orioles are set to get back quite a few potential contributors from injury in the next few weeks, including Jonathan Schoop, Ryan Flaherty and Matt Wieters. Where do they all go?
Pearce has been playing a lot of second base in the absence of Schoop and Flaherty and has done so admirably, but with the way #teamSteve is hitting, Schoop would be the immediate starter regardless. Not to mention, Flaherty is a favorite of manager Buck Showalter and can serve as a late-game defensive replacement all over the diamond and is therefore a valuable commodity.
Wieters is an All-Star and Gold Glove catcher, but does it make sense to subject his elbow to 20 or so throws per inning? First baseman are far less active, and Caleb Joseph has been a wonderful surprise behind the plate. Although that would mean keeping the likes of a Ryan Lavarnway or calling up Steve Clevenger.
Down on the farm
The Orioles minor league system is not exactly flush with Major League-ready talent, but there are a couple guys that could maybe make it to Baltimore sometime this summer to help out.
Brandon Snyder is an O's former first-round pick who the team just re-signed at the end of April after he spent some time with the Rangers and the Red Sox. Snyder made his MLB debut with the Birds back in 2010 and has since played in 83 big league games, hitting .243 with five home runs along the way.
He is hitting over .300 with Bowie but is also hurt. He will need to prove he can hit for a longer period of time before he suits up for the Orioles.
The 27-year-old Chris Parmelee is lighting up the stat sheet down at Norfolk with a .315 batting average, three home runs, 26 RBI, 21 walks and 35 strikeouts. He too has MLB experience, 273 games to be exact, and has hit 24 home runs in his time. If he keeps putting up numbers, he is definitely worth a look.
And of course there is Christian Walker, the 24-year-old top prospect who is currently struggling with the Tides. Over the last 10 games, he is hitting .167, which has brought his season average down to .247. Walker has just two home runs and 11 RBI through 43 games. He is still highly-regarded within the Orioles, but he doesn't seem ready for a starting job at the next level quite yet.
I also took a look at pending free agents at first base, and the cabinet is fairly bare when you consider which players do and don't have 2016 options. So, the O's are going to have to be self-sufficient.
I will admit that I am starting to lose confidence, but I'm in the party that thinks there is no way both Pearce and Davis can continue to be THIS bad. But then they keep on proving me wrong. The theory that we just keep sending them out there is not working. Davis is in a bit of a home run drought (none in the last 12 games), and if he isn't hitting home runs, he loses almost all of his value.
The only player down on the farm that is metaphorically "knocking down the door" is Parmelee. He does not provide anywhere near the power potential, but deserves a shot. Although he would then have to be optioned if things didn't work out and he is out of options.
Whatever happens, Buck needs to change things up. Giving Pearce a start yesterday was nice to see. Davis needs to know that he is not entrenched at first base. The Orioles are still well within reach of the division lead and if they are to go for the crown, things cannot remain stagnant.
Pretend you're Buck Showalter or Dan Duquette. What do you do to sure up first base for the Orioles? Keep things the same or make a move? Let me know in the comments down below of tweet me @_TyYoung.