Baltimore Orioles: Solving the Ryan Flaherty Problem

Baltimore Orioles

Ryan Flaherty has become a liability for the Baltimore Orioles this season.

On every Little League baseball team in America, there is the same kid.

You know this kid. Everyone knows this kid.

He tries hard, he really does. And occasionally, he’ll make a good thing happen, like leaning into a pitch to get on base or not committing a throwing error to first base on a routine grounder. But most of the time, his play makes his teammates throw their heads back and groan, maybe curse into their gloves so no one else sees the bad sportsmanship on display (by the way, if you don’t remember this kid on your LL team, this guy was you. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news).

He lets pop flies fall meekly to the grass while flinching away from the ball, and seems surprised whenever he makes contact at the plate. He makes bad decisions on the base paths because, hey, he doesn’t get there very often.

This kid grew up to be Baltimore Orioles utility infielder Ryan Flaherty.

Currently hitting .204 on the young season with a .278 OPB, Flaherty has been one of the biggest blemishes on the field for Baltimore. He is also slugging .265, so the few hits he has collected have rarely been anything other than a single. And it’s not just his offense that is an issue; his two errors are the second-most on the team, behind only Jonathan Schoop’s four (the team, as a whole, has committed eight errors, so these guys hold a sizable share of them). Schoop, though, has played 21 games in his career; he will get better with time and reps at different positions. Flaherty has played 178 games, and has yet to show any improvement with decision-making or discipline.

The solution to the initial problem may be obvious: Manny Machado will be coming off the disabled list in a few weeks, and will reclaim his rightful spot at third base, where Flaherty has played the majority of his games this season.

But what about second base? Manager Buck Showalter has shown an intense loyalty to Flaherty in the past, even when the Vanderbilt graduate was struggling mightily. Would he show that loyalty to him again, playing him over the highly-thought-of prospect Schoop? It’s possible, but Showalter has also said he wants Schoop playing every day, wherever that opportunity exists, and I don’t think the O’s plan on sending him to Norfolk any time soon.

As long as Machado comes back soon and stays healthy, I think Schoop says at second base, and Flaherty rides the pine, thus eliminating a weak link in the order. If Machado takes longer to come back than expected, however, Baltimore fans might have to deal with Flaherty for a while longer.


  • Mike T.

    Schoop is as big a problem right now as Flaherty. 1 walk in 72 plate appearances basically negates the above average power he has for a middle infielder. Right now he’s a 21-year old Tony Batista. With Schoop you get terrible defense and some power but zero plate discipline. With Flaherty you get above average defense but terrible hitting slumps and very occasional power. Over the course of a season both these guys are 0-1 WAR players, basically they are AAAA players. Machado is a borderline MVP candidate (5-7 WAR) so of course these guys are a huge drop off…

  • Joel D.

    Great story!! You summed up what I’ve been complaining about for years. Years.

  • Kevin

    Ryan, this has been a good lesson for you as you continue in with your journalism studies. Although I would like to think that Schoop will improve his defense, JW is spot on. Flaherty is known for his defense and that is why Buck keeps him on the field. Will he play when Machado is back? Probably not much, but every true O’s fan is happy he is on the bench as a strong defensive replacement for every infield position. Next time don’t pretend like you speak for a whole fan base and accept that maybe you do not share the same sentiments as the O’s fans who watch the games.

    Side note: if you choose to continue to post your opinions online, you do not need to answer questions like, “Do you ever watch baseball?” I’m not saying the question was not worth asking, but I’m sure it was rhetorical. And if you choose to take the bait, work on a better comeback.

    Go O’s!

    • Ryan Kohn

      I’d love for you to point out where I said I spoke for the entire fan base. I’d also point out that by you saying “every true O’s fan is happy he is on the bench” you are doing the exact thing you’re accusing me of doing.

      I love when people disagree. It creates discussion. For the record, I never said I wanted Flaherty off the team, just out of the starting lineup.

      I know I didn’t have to respond to him, just like I didn’t need to respond to you. My response to Quipex wasn’t supposed to be a “comeback.” I’m not about trolling. I responded to him to see if there was a discussion point there.

  • Bronwyn Joye

    Yeah, I’m afraid I have to mostly agree with JW on this one. I’ve watched almost every game. And I reasonably believe that if Schoop wasn’t hitting as well as he is, no one would be saying boo about Flaherty.

    Yes, Flaherty is in his second season in the bigs, and Schoop is in his first. I’ll provide that RyFly’s experience should show a little more than it does, but I won’t concede that his fielding deserves to be panned like this. He was NEVER brought in for his bat. I don’t think anyone believed he was going to be a great hitter. But he’s been a solid infielder with, in my opinion, ONE error on his record. Yes the transfer was incomplete, but the out at 2B should have been recorded, and you can never assume a DP.

    I suspect what we’re actually seeing, with the comparatively sloppy infielding from the Orioles so far, is the clear absence of both Hardy and Machado. And those left out there on the dirt, who remember how it all worked last year, are trying too hard to make up for those absences and for the rookie to their left.

    Schoop has cost us at least two games. Yes, he’s hitting very well. The first time through the pitchers he’s facing. If he’s still around the NEXT time he faces those pitchers/teams, I’ll wager his average against them drops by at least half. They don’t know him yet, but they will. And once there are good scouting reports on his tendencies, his “rookie-dom” will show up there too.

    • Ryan Kohn

      See my comment to JW. Yes, Schoop has strugged, that’s obvious, and I mentioned it in the article. But his potential is much higher than Flaherty’s and thus should get the opportunity to play over him. Can’t get better without reps.

    • Ryan Kohn

      I would agree about Machado and Hardy, though, which is why my “solution” is as simple as it is.

  • James Whitener

    Ryan, you simply have not watched the Orioles play this year. Offensively, you are correct. Flaherty has started slow but he’s raised his average significantly since starting 0-17, again.

    His lack of power this year is puzzling though he’s hardly alone on this team with that puzzling issue. Chris Davis – 2HR at the end of April?

    However, you couldn’t have watched him play defense. He’s been generally outstanding on defense and has one legit error and one horrendous call at second base error.

    And you give Schoop a pass on defense. Schoop as been atrocious in the field – error after error.

    Talk about a guy not having the “it” factor on defense, that is Schoop. On David Lough’s throwing “error” that cost us the game Sunday in Boston in the bottom of the 9th, Lough was actually throwing the ball to the cutoff man since Lough correctly surmised that the runner was not running.

    Who was that brilliant cutoff man? Schoop. What did Schoop do? He literally jumped out of the way of the ball letting it go to the backstop, losing another game for us.

    This is the 3rd game we’ve lost this year directly attributable to Schoops scary bad defense.

    Not only does Schoop have bad hands, he has terrible instincts as shown by not knowing what was going on with the Lough throw.

    He is the Anti-Machado. Machado just got it, immediately.

    Schoop simply doesn’t have it, at least at 3rd base.

    But really, to your commentary, it is terribly unfair. I’ve watched most of the O’s games this year and Flaherty’s defense has been fairly awesome most of the time. OK that one drop at second base hurt. But you want to pick on somebody, pick on Schoop. He’s just awful.

    • Ryan Kohn

      I mentioned how bad Schoop has been. But you have to let young guys work out the kinks. Also, I said to play him at second, not third.

      • James Whitener

        Flaherty is also a young guy who deserves the same shot. Also, you didn’t address the fact that you panned Flaherty’s defense which means you haven’t watched him play. He’s everything Schoop is not on defense. Admit it.

        • Ryan Kohn

          Flaherty is 27 and is never going to be more than a utility player. Schoop is 22 and has the potential to be a very good everyday 2B. Big difference. Also, I wouldn’t say pointing out a guy has made 2 out of a team’s 8 errors is necessarily “panning” him; it’s just a statistic. I’ll also point out how Flaherty’s dWAR is worse than Schoop’s thus far (-.01 to 0.0) according to ESPN. If you’re talking about the intro, it was of course meant to be hyperbole.

          • James Whitener

            Proving the uselessness of the WAR figures. Schoop is lost in the field. He has no feel for the game of baseball. Flaherty is a slick fielding shortstop.

            Schoop has cost us 3 games already and has 5 of our 7 errors. FIVE.

          • Ryan Kohn

            It’s four out of eight, but yes, I’m aware.

          • James Whitener

            Also, you made the absurd argument against Flaherty comparing him to the kid in little league who doesn’t get it, makes bad decisions, lets the ball fall in, etc.
            Ironically, you should be applying that to Schoop.

            You have yet to admit the FACT that Flaherty is an excellent defender. You paint him as incompetent. I really don’t want to continue this. Just admit your wrong on this and I’ll go away.

            Because Quipex basically made the correct point, your having said that about Flaherty makes everyone who actually watches the O’s know that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

          • AA

            You aren’t wrong, but you’re behaving like a child. At least the RK is maintaining his composure.

          • James Whitener

            Hey AA you’re stupid. Hey. Way to bring intelligence to the conversation.

          • AA

            Thank you for bringing joy to my day.

          • James Whitener

            Really. You are a piece of work. You make snide comments then whine! Really?

          • AA

            Don’t worry, bud, I’ll leave you alone. Enjoy your internet fight and spelling errors. Good luck getting him to “admit it”, haha.

          • James Whitener

            Sure thing hypocrite. Enjoy your “life.”

          • James Whitener

            Oh btw. You should really learn to spell.

          • Greg Ramsey

            Anybody that actually knows anything about sabermetrics beyond what they saw in Moneyball wouldn’t use WAR, especially defensiveWAR, only 17 games into a season. That’s such a small sample size that one or two bad games (or good ones for that matter) throws off the data so much as to make it statistically useless. Brooks Robinson had 3 errors in the same inning in a game in 1971, so that must mean he was lost in the field and had no feel for the game of baseball, right? A small handful of games means almost nothing on its own.

          • James Whitener

            That’s why I was criticizing the use of WAR. Surely you meant to reply to the person who actually was promoting that useless stat.

  • Quipex

    Do you ever watch baseball?

    • Ryan Kohn

      Almost every day, Quipex. How about you?

      • Quipex

        Yes, sophomore, I do.