John Lepore | February 18th, 2020
The Baltimore Orioles are where we visit next in our team previews. The rebuild has started. The Birds may not be looking toward a division crown this year, but they have some promising players on the horizon. We will be taking a quick look back on 2019 and then diving into what the Orioles will look like this season. Let’s break it down.
Make sure to check out our other Team Previews here.
Last season the Baltimore Orioles finished in last place at 54-108. Not only were they a bad team, but they fell victim to playing in the only AL division to boast three teams with a .500 winning percentage. The rebuild has started in earnest, and the Orioles are certainly embracing it. Now it’s time to move forward step by step. Time to improve in 2020.
I wrote about my thoughts on the catching situation in Baltimore with Sisco and Severino here. I like Sisco to break out as the strong side of a likely platoon. Chris Davis is just a horrible baseball player at this point. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ryan Mountcastle take over at some point if the struggles continue for Davis. More on that later. Hanser Alberto swings at everything and had horrible batted ball stats last season (18.3 % HH rate and 82.8 mph AEV). I don’t expect another .305 BA from him although .280 isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Jose Iglesias can still pick it at shortstop but lacks at the dish and has similar batted ball stats to Alberto (23.9% HH and 84.0 AEV). Ruiz is the one guy in the infield I can see taking a step forward. His numbers don’t wow anyone but a solid .250 BA with 20-25 HRs is not out of the question.
Austin Hays has shown some promise and should be an interesting player this year. His batted ball metrics look good in his small sample size and he showed some pop in the minors. Look for Hays to have a nice full season. Trey Mancini is a player who has really come into his own. He has approached his prime and could very well have a .300 BA with 100+ Runs and RBI with at least 30 bombs. Nunez actually underperformed his metrics slightly and his batted ball profile looks good. another 30-HR season is definitely attainable. Santander doesn’t walk a ton(4.7% last season) but his batted ball profile is solid although slightly above average across the board. If he can maintain and even improve, he could contribute another 20+ HRs and a respectable .260-.270 BA.
Starting Rotation Projections
I’m not sure how this staff gets anywhere near good. I guess if Means takes a step forward and Wojciechowski builds on what he did last year they could be decent. Stewart is a project and Cobb was good in the past but stunk last year in his three starts giving up nine HRs in 12.1 innings. MLB.com has Brandon Bailey, Keegan Akin, Michael Rucker, and David Hess listed as possible fifth starters. All I have to say is….UGH!
Givens should be the closer and Hess (If he isn’t the fifth starter) should give them innings. Castro and Bleier should be solid so their bullpen isn’t horrible so far. After that, it will probably be a disaster. Shawn Armstrong stinks and then they will have whoever doesn’t make the starting rotation. It is going to be a piece-it-together back end unless someone like Harvey and Givens can solidify the 8th and 9th.
Players to Watch For
Hunter Harvey – Soon to be 25 years old, the Orioles decided that the oft-injured Harvey would be better in the bullpen. In his short time with the club last season, he didn’t disappoint. After being drafted in the first round in 2013, Harvey has had myriad injuries including Tommy John Surgery. When he finally made it to Baltimore, Harvey made seven appearances, walked four, and struck out 11. He only surrendered one run, a solo shot off the bat of another Hunter…Dozier of the Kansas City Royals. There is plenty of room for improvement in Baltimore’s bullpen, to say the least. If Harvey can stay healthy, he could find himself pitching at the back end in no time.
Austin Hays – In his cup of coffee last season, Hays showed he belongs in the Show. In just 21 games, he had a .947 OPS with four homers and even chipped in a couple steals. Hays’s skills play in center field with his decent speed and an above-average arm. He will most likely be there from the start of the season, and it will be exciting to see what he can do in a full year at the big league level.
Ryan Mountcastle – Although his plate discipline has been slow in developing, Mountcastle had a solid full season at AAA Norfolk. He slashed .312/.344/.527 with 25 HRs and 35 doubles in 127 games. Where he will play is the question. With Mark Trumbo gone and Chris Davis still a shell of his former self, the Orioles could look to have Mountcastle man first base. With service time manipulation being what it is, you could see Mountcastle up later in April as they may give Davis a chance for the first few weeks. He will almost assuredly be in the middle of the Orioles lineup by May.
The Orioles are in a very tough division even with the Sox moving Betts and Price. The rebuild is happening and will take another couple of years, but an improvement on the 54 wins from last year is certainly attainable. I would say 64-98 for the Birds from Baltimore as they avoid another 100-loss season.
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