14 November 2012
2012 Orioles Retrospective: Robert Andino
Robert Andino was pressed into duty last year with the loss of Brian Roberts, and acquitted himself relatively well. A solid walk rate and an OK strike-out rate can play at second-base when they come with some defense. Brian Roberts wasn't expected to play much (if at all) this year, leaving Andino as the starter at second again. Things went... less well.
On the plus side, the improvements Andino made with his plate discipline were solidified and extended. He upped his walk rate from 8% to 8.6%, and did an even better job of not swinging at pitches out of the strike-zone. He also showed a bit of pop early in the season, with 3 homers in his first 27 games (after hitting only 5 in 139 games in 2011). As late as May 15th, the home run leader-board read Robert Andino - 3, Albert Pujols - 1. (Pujols then homered in consecutive games, and finished with an impressive - given his start - 30 on the season).
Every else was not so good. Andino's contact rate fell to 80%. That, in and of itself, isn't terrible - it's actually a touch above average. The problem is that pitchers had no reason to fear him (they weren't checking the home run leader-boards, apparently), and just pounded the strike-zone. Of Major Leaguers with at least 400 PA, Andino saw the third highest proportion of pitches in the zone. And on those pitches, he swung and missed more than the average batter. Seeing strikes + swinging and missing them = strike-outs, and Andino's K rate jumped to over 23%.
Often, strike-outs will come with power production. That was, sadly, not so much the case here. Though Andino hit a career high 7 home runs and improved his isolated power from .081 to .094, that second figure is still poor. Of the 39 batters who struck out more often than Andino did, only one had a lower ISO (Everth Cabrera, who was to play half his game at PETCO).
And while more strike-outs will obviously hurt the batting average, Andino's plunged even further with the drop in his BABIP from .311 to .266. That'll happen when you hit fewer line-drives and more pop-ups, I guess.
So at the plate, Andino went from a perfectly respectable .263/.327/.344 to just .211/.283/.305. He couldn't even be platooned that effectively, as he couldn't hit lefties (67 wRC+) or righties (57 wRC+). Piling on even more, he made 13 errors at second (up from 4) which put his UZR underwater (-2 runs; plus another -2 from his time at third).
In a season where he could have established himself as a decent starting position player, it was unfortunate to see Robert Andino go from 1.8 fWAR to -0.6 fWAR and contribute to the black hole that was the second-base position for the Orioles this year. But hey, credit to him for being one of the few players on the team to remember to bring his (or someone else's) bat to the post-season, where he hit .417/.417/.500. He can probably still be a productive bench player, but it might behoove the O's to actually find a good second-baseman if they want to be competitive next year.