In a season in which the Orioles have mightily struggled, I’ve reasonably found it difficult to pick out bright spots to write about, whether in a Hot Take Tuesday or a Suggested Change of the Week.
At the same time, one of the brightest spots that I repeatedly missed has become abundantly clear to me – it just took a milestone for me to realize it.
In 2019, Villar is the most impactful player on the Orioles.
There are a few counterarguments to the point, obviously Trey Mancini, maybe John Means, as a stretch perhaps Hanser Alberto or Anthony Santander, but I really feel that over the course of things it has to be Villar.
Only considering Mancini because of his torrid start and the fact that he should have been an All Star, Villar actually has the superior batting average after his recent hot stretch. On the entire team, only Alberto and Santander hit for better average, both in far fewer at bats.
Batting .277 and getting on base at a .347 clip – which itself is the best on the team – Villar makes an everyday impact on the Orioles, which has been rare in the Baltimore dugout.
Once the switch-hitting shortstop gets on base, he can be even more dangerous than he is when he’s at the plate, providing elite speed on the base paths.
There’s not much of an argument needed there, as Villar’s 28 stolen bases are the most for the Orioles since Nate McLouth swiped 30 bases in 2013. Villar will almost certainly crack that number over the course of the next month or so. In the entire MLB this year, Villar is tied for fourth in the league in that category.
Additionally, with that tremendous speed comes a naturally increased threat on the bases anytime another hitter puts one in the gap. Again, there’s not too much to add about that, but he’s certainly bringing more to the table in that area than Mancini or any other player does.
If you aren’t convinced because you’re simply sure that Mancini or any other Oriole are more impactful or valuable or are simply better than Jonathan Villar, I’m going to offer up a metric at which I normally scoff: WAR.
Jonathan Villar leads the O’s with a 3.5 bWAR. That’s an entire win higher than the next best player, Alberto.
While I typically don’t put much stock in that super statistical way to measure a player’s importance to a team, that large a discrepancy between first and second highlights the difference Villar makes in Baltimore.
By far, he’s the best player on this team.