Thorne: And Flaherty's really settled in now. The Orioles tried to find someone with, maybe giving up a little defense in return for a bat at second base. It didn't work. So Flaherty's there, and playing on a regular basis now...
Palmer: He's become the Mark Belanger of the Orioles. You know, Mark Belanger won eight Gold Gloves. And when he got a hit, everybody cheered, everybody was happy. But his job was to pick it at shortstop, and that's what Ryan has done at second base.
I do appreciate, as always, the historical reference. And Palmer, of course, was literally there for Belanger's entire career. But this doesn't quite do justice to Belanger's talents.
For one thing, Belanger ranks as one of the great defensive shortstops of all time, while there's very little evidence that Flaherty's much better than average at second base. Really, he's just a utility infielder who won't really hurt you anywhere except maybe at shortstop.
For another, Flaherty's been a much worse hitter than Belanger. Flaherty entered today's game with a 54 OPS+ over 304 major-league plate appearances. Belanger was essentially the Orioles' regular shortstop for 11 seasons (1968-1978) and posted an OPS+ lower than 54 just once; his overall mark during that span was 72.
Which obviously wasn't good, at all. Belanger, despite enjoying a few decent seasons as a hitter, was pretty terrible. But he wasn't so terrible that he couldn't hold down a regular job for many years, because his glove was just that brilliant. Flaherty, though, is a place-holder at second base until Brian Roberts gets back. If that doesn't happen, Flaherty's going to eventually lose his regular job. Unless he somehow starts hitting some.