One position the Orioles have no worries about is shortstop. J.J. Hardy played in a career-high 158 games, and while his offensive numbers weren’t as strong as in 2011, his defense was terrific.
Hardy made just six errors—the same number he made in 29 fewer games in 2011 and manager Buck Showalter raved about his defensive play almost every day.
He’s so solid at short that the Orioles moved Manny Machado to third instead of contemplating a Hardy move. In his 944 games, Hardy has never played an inning at any position other than shortstop.
In July 2011, Hardy signed a three-year, $21 million extension, a deal that looks good for both sides. Hardy will be with the Orioles through at least 2014, and perhaps beyond. At 30, Hardy looks to have several more years at the peak of his game.
Hardy also provides some pop. For the fourth time in his major league career, he hit more than 20 home runs. While his .238 average was considerably below the .268 mark of 2011, Hardy’s defense is so good, it almost doesn’t matter.