Orioles short stop J.J. Hardy landed on the DL today with a fractured foot and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks. In his absence, Manny Machado will slide over to short stop, his natural position. It’s long been known around Baltimore that Machado would end up there eventually, but this is a little sooner than anticipated. Hardy who has suffered from several nagging injuries the past few seasons was relatively healthy this season for the first time in memory. As you may have seen in today’s Did You See That?, Hardy offers above average defense at the position. With Machado holding down short, the Orioles will likely rely on a combination of Pedo Alvarez and newly recalled Ryan Flaherty at third. The Orioles could also consider moving Chris Davis back to third, (although I doubt that is as likely as Davis has turned into a plus defender at first over the past two seasons.) That would allow the Orioles to slide Mark Trumbo in at first and keep a rotation of Nolan Reimold and Hyun-Soo Kim in right.
Losing Hardy for up to two months is a notable blow to the Orioles, as the 33-year-old’s bat had bounced back somewhat early in the season, resulting in a .244/.291/.410 batting line in 86 plate appearances. While that production isn’t up to par for a league-average hitter, it’s a notable step up from the .246/.306/.372 batting line of the average big league shortstop and is more than serviceable when considering Hardy’s elite defensive contributions. While the Orioles should be able to maintain a quality infield defense with some combination of Machado, Flaherty and Janish comprising the left side of the infield, it’s likely that the net outcome of that trio — both on offense and defense — will fall shy of the would-be combination of Machado and Hardy on an everyday basis.