2012 Player of the Year: Baltimore Orioles

Hannah Foslien

It was an incredible season for the Baltimore Orioles, and a true team effort as only closer Jim Johnson finished the season atop any leader boards. But while it's difficult to choose the Orioles' most valuable player, perhaps it's even more difficult to choose the player who best symbolizes the 2012 O's and their shocking 93-win season.

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Really, you could make reasonably argue for any one of a dozen (or more!) Orioles. It was just that kind of a season, with all sorts of player doing things that nobody expected. Just like the whole team. And maybe that goes especially for the Orioles' starting pitchers; by the end of the season, Buck Showalter just kept saying that his No. 1 starter was whoever was pitching that day ... and the funny thing was, he was basically right.

Blogger Perspective: Camden Chat

by Stacey Long

No player on the surprising 2012 Baltimore Orioles personified the team more than starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez. Released by the Red Sox in 2011 after toiling in the minors for seven years, two of which were spent on the disabled list, Gonzalez was preparing to pitch in the Mexican League when the Orioles signed him during Spring Training.

Gonzalez made his first major-league start in July against the the Angels, pitching 7 innings of one-run ball. And while it was a nice start, just like the Orioles had a nice start to their season, no one expected it to continue. But it did. Gonzalez made fourteen more starts for the Orioles in the regular season, compiling over 100 innings with an ERA of 3.25. And if that wasn’t enough, he excelled in his one postseason start, dominating the New York Yankees over seven innings.

Forgotten by most of baseball, written off as not having a chance, but coming back to surprise everyone. It describes both the Orioles and Gonzalez to a tee.

For more Orioles coverage, please visit Camden Chat.

But I've got someone else in mind for the Orioles' Player of the Year. And no, it's not Jim Johnson, even though he led the majors with 51 saves and played a big role in the club's (record-breaking!) 29-9 record in one-run games.

Aside from that phenomenal record in one-run games, what really distinguished the Orioles was power, as their 214 home runs in 2012 ranked second only to the Yankees. And who led the Orioles, with 33 home runs?

Why, none other than Rangers castoff Chris Davis.

After a startlingly powerful rookie half-season in 2008, Davis had fallen on hard times in Texas. From 2009 through '11 -- when, that is, he wasn't back in Triple-A -- Davis batted just .238/.289/.406 for the big club. Hardly acceptable for a first baseman in Texas, especially one who was often platooned. Finally, during the 2011 season the Rangers figured they had room for just one lefty-hitting first baseman, and his name was Mitch Moreland.

So, just before the trade deadline that summer, Davis and starting pitcher Tommy Hunter were shipped off to Baltimore for reliever Koji Uehara and some cash.

Davis fared little better for the O's after the trade. But they stuck with him. And in 2012, he finally looked again like the hitter he'd been as a 22-year-old phenom in 2008. What's more, the club benefited from Buck Showalter's creativity. While Davis opened the season as the Orioles' usual first baseman and later shifted to DH in favor of Mark Reynolds, Showalter eventually deployed Davis in the outfield with some regularity.

Oh, and then there was this game, in which Davis pitched two innings ... and beat the Red Sox.

In case you missed any previous entries in this EXCITING SERIES, here's the archive.

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