Red Sox vs the AL East: shortstops

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Oct 14, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy hits a RBI double against the Kansas City Royals during the second inning in game three of the 2014 ALCS playoff baseball game at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

2. J.J. Hardy, Orioles

Hardy had a mysterious down year in 2014 as, while most facets of his game were right on target, his power seemingly disappeared. His isolated power last season was only .104, far from his career mark of .161, and he hit only 9 home runs after having eclipsed the 20-homer mark in each of the previous three seasons. Meanwhile, his strikeout rate spiked to 18.3%, the highest such mark of his career and well above his career rate of 14.6%. Those two red flags could signal the beginning of a decline for Hardy, but even if he is slowing down with age, Hardy is still a valuable player for the Orioles. Despite last season’s offensive shortcomings, Hardy had another excellent defensive season, taking home his third consecutive Gold Glove. He may no longer be the power threat he once was, but Hardy is still a useful player for the O’s and should continue to be in the foreseeable future.