Rhyne Hughes, first baseman – outfielder(?)
Is he potentially a solution to the Orioles’ first-base problem?
At first blush, no. Hughes got off to a hot start at Norfolk in 2010, was called up to Baltimore, didn’t set the world on fire, was sent down, and faded — his final slash stats were .258/.314/.410. He’ll play 2011 at age 27.
On the other hand, Harbor Park obviously hurt Hughes, and Hughes had a much better 2009. His career AAA slash stats are .276/.332/.453; those numbers are probably pretty close to what he can do as a major leaguer. They don’t look good, but they’re a lot better than what the current Orioles first basemen did in 2010.
But that’s more of an indictment of the Orioles first basemen. Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis, Justin Morneau, Paul Konerko, Miguel Cabrera, and Kendry Morales were all clearly better than that; and only Cleveland (Matt LaPorta), Seattle (Casey Kotchman), and Texas (Justin Smoak/Chris Davis/Mitch Moreland) were worse. The rest of the regular first basemen in the American League — Carlos Pena, Lyle Overbay, Billy Butler, and Daric Barton — were about the same. Looking forward, I’d say that I’d take every first baseman except Seattle and Texas over Rhyne Hughes.
Hughes played a lot of time in the outfield (61 games) in Norfolk. Would he be a viable bench player?
You can forget about Hughes being an outfielder; he was the worst outfielder that I’ve ever seen on an extended basis (I suspect Greg Luzinski was worse, but I didn’t see him often enough to register.) Hughes had eight outfield errors; the rest of the Tides combined for eleven. He had one outfield assist in his 61 games.
As a left-handed hitting bat-on-the-bench and backup first baseman, Hughes would be adequate; I don’t know if he’d be the best player of that type.