The man not only has an awesome walk-up song, but right now, Nate McLouth is providing a huge lift at the top of the lineup for the Baltimore Orioles.
After collecting nine hits in the four-game series against the Oakland A’s, McLouth raised his average for the season to .351. More importantly for the leadoff hitter, he now has an On-Base Percentage of .455, good for second in ALL of baseball. With his eight stolen bases, he has added a dimension to the O’s that they haven’t had since Brian Roberts was in his prime.
McLouth has now reached base in 22 of his last 36 plate appearances. Talk about setting the table!
If you had to be critical, the only negative that can be brought up about McLouth is his inability to hit left-handed pitching. I don’t even know if I want to use the word inability, but so far he is basically being used primarily against right-handed pitchers.
Manager Buck Showalter recognizes that McLouth has a .222 career average against lefties and maybe the reason McLouth is off to such a great start is because Showalter is only playing him when a righty is pitching. Still, I will point out that his only homerun this season was against a lefty.
So far he has one start this year when a lefty is on the mound. I don’t know how long that will continue if he keeps up with the pace he is on. The team is better when he is in the leadoff spot and setting the table for Manny Machado, Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and Chris Davis.
As great of a hitter as Markakis is, when he hits a single, he is for the most part staying at first. The threat of McLouth stealing impacts what a pitcher does and leads to better pitches for Machado to hit.
Thursday night was a perfect example of the tools McLouth brings to a team and the kind of spark he provides to pick up his teammates. The Orioles were down 2-0 after three defensive miscues. It looked like the trip out west, after suffering a tough defeat at home against the Toronto Blue Jays, was taking its toll.
With Nolan Reimold on second, McLouth hits an RBI single. After Machado pops out, McLouth steals second during Markakis’ at bat. Markakis then hits a single to score McLouth. By inning’s end, what looked to be a team needing a good night’s sleep was now on top and never looked back. McLouth added another stolen base, finished with two runs scored and a walk in the 10-2 victory.
With a starting staff that is having trouble pitching deep into games, a bullpen that will be tired if the trend continues, the Orioles need to score as many runs as possible. McLouth is a huge reason why the O’s have the second-most runs in all of baseball.
It is starting to come to the point that maybe Showalter should pencil in McLouth at the leadoff spot no matter who is on the mound.
Buck, and the rest of us, will find out if Nate can continue to be “McClutch” even off southpaws.