Infielder Hanser Alberto had an extreme amount of difficulty sticking with one organization last offseason. The Yankees claimed Alberto off waivers from the Rangers on Nov. 2, only to designate him for assignment Jan. 11. The Orioles claimed Alberto that same day but designated him Feb 19. The Giants claimed Alberto on Feb. 22 and then designated him March 1, at which point the Orioles scooped him back up.
Thankfully for Alberto, the O’s haven’t subjected him to the waiver process again since they reclaimed him. Rather, rebuilding Baltimore has seen Alberto turn into a useful part of its roster since earning a season-opening spot on it. That doesn’t mean Alberto is there to stay, though. On the contrary, the 26-year-old may now be a trade chip for the club with the July 31 deadline approaching, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com observes.
The Orioles’ version of Alberto has been substantially more productive than the player the Rangers got in parts of three seasons from 2015-18. During that stretch of 192 plate appearances, Alberto mustered an unfathomably awful wRC+ (9), batted .192/.210/.231 and failed to hit a home run. This year, though, Alberto has been 10 times the offensive player by wRC+ (91), having slashed .306/.325/.402 with five homers across 304 PA.
Although much improved, Alberto’s 2019 numbers still aren’t all that exciting – especially taking his .311 weighted on-base average/.292 xwOBA and meek 83 mph average exit velocity into account. On the other hand, the righty has terrorized southpaw pitchers, whom he has teed off on for a .397/.407/.512 line (144 wRC+) in 121 trips to the plate. The problem is that those numbers are rather unlikely to hold. After all, Alberto has benefited from a .438 batting average on balls in play versus LHPs, and has drawn just one walk against them.
Along with his serviceable bottom-line production at the plate, Alberto has provided the Orioles a credible defender at second and third base. Alberto has essentially been a scratch fielder at each of those spots in 50 and 36 appearances, respectively, per Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating. And for what it’s worth, he’s a well-liked, high-energy clubhouse presence, according to Kubatko.
The Orioles value Alberto’s on- and off-field contributions, and as someone who won’t reach arbitration for the first time until the offseason, they don’t have to trade him. But “Alberto’s value may never reach this level again,” Kubatko writes, which could persuade the club to deal him for something almost five months after getting him for nothing.