In a division where everyone always talks about the other teams, the Orioles made the playoffs for the second time in three seasons, won the division, and made a run to the ALCS as they trounced the Tigers but came up short against the Royals.
Despite those losses, the Orioles remain a feared offense and have a top notch bullpen, so can we expect more of the same in 2015?
Batting Average: 9th
Davis was banged up much of the season and was suspended in September, seeing his numbers plummet across the board. Davis’s .286 BA in 2013 fell to a cringe-worthy .196 last season while his league-leading 53 home runs and 138 RBI plummeted to 26 and 72. He added just 65 runs and 16 doubles, after scoring 103 times and hitting 42 doubles the previous season.
Which Davis will we see in 2015? He may never come close to hitting 50 again but he’s proven that he can hit 30+ in an off year so he can certainly remain a top power hitting first baseman even if he doesn’t fully rebound to his 2013 self.
Baltimore gave Pearce a chance to play most of the season for the first time in his eight-year career and he delivered in a big way, batting .293 with a .930 OPS, 21 HR, 49 RBI, 51 R, and 26 2B in just 338 at-bats. Talk about a steal. Expect the O’s to find Pearce at-bats at first, third, DH, and anywhere else they can fit him to try to keep that kind of production in the lineup.
And if a former 50+ home run hitter and a breakout stud bat weren’t enough, the Orioles have an embarrassment of riches with Walker waiting in the wings. After posting impressive numbers between Single-A and Double-A in 2013, Walker put the Bigs on notice as he batted .288 with an .846 OPS, 26 HR, 96 RBI, and 73 R in 139 games between Double-A and Triple-A.
Walker will likely start the season in the minors but he’s knocking on the door and looks like he could be an immediate impact player.
The former top-100 prospect flashed an impressive glove in his first Big League season but struggled at the plate as he batted just .209 with a .598 OPS and 122 K to 13 BB. Schoop did hit 16 home runs, which is above average at the position, but the 23-year-old will have to work on his approach to reach the next level.
Flaherty gives the O’s a lot of flexibility as he can play all over the infield and outfield but he’s not a great bat.
3B: Manny Machado
Machado wasn’t quite as impressive last year coming off of surgery as he looked in 2013 but there’s no reason not to expect the blossoming star to put up great numbers once again. Though he played just 82 games and hit just 14 doubles compared to his league-leading 51 in 2013, his BA (.283 – .278) stayed about the same while his OBP and OPS actually slightly improved. He also hit 12 home runs after hitting 14 the previous year in twice as many games.
With 2.5 years of experience behind him, it’s easy to forget Machado is just 22. He’s still developing into the hitter he’s going to be. His glove, though, is already top notch.
SS: J.J. Hardy, Everth Cabrera
Hardy saw his numbers slide after hitting 22+ home runs and driving in at least 68 in three straight seasons with the O’s. In 2014, he hit just nine home runs, his second lowest total since 2007, and drove in just 52 runs. He did hit 28 doubles and his BA, OBP, and OPS stayed about on par but, at 32, he’s already showing signs of decline.
The Padres parted ways with Cabrera after he was suspended 50 games for PEDs and dealt with some off field issues. It’s unclear what his role on the team will be or whether he can bounce back to the player we saw in 2012 and 2013. Cabrera has a solid glove and great speed, though, having swiped 77 bags between 2012 and 2013. There’s no reason his glove or speed should be in decline (though he did steal just 18 last year) and those two things could get his otherwise unimpressive bat in the lineup.
After missing most of the season and undergoing Tommy John surgery, Wieters could be cleared to play as soon as the end of March. The O’s will likely ease him back in to the catcher spot, but before he was limited to just 26 games in 2014, he was one of the most consistent hitting catchers in the league. Between 2011 and 2013, he batted between .235 and .262 with 22-23 HR, 68-83 RBI, 59-72 R, and 27-29 2B.
He’ll likely fall short of those numbers if he’s limited in the early going but there’s no reason not to expect a healthy Wieters to return to that sort of production.
Joseph proved a capable backup with a bit of pop and a good glove in his first stint in the Big leagues last season.
Adam Jones has been one of the most consistent elite outfielders in the game the last three seasons, reaching the All-Star game in each one. Over those three years he’s averaging 31 home runs, 95 RBI, 97 R, 12 SB, and 35 2B while batting .284. There’s no reason he shouldn’t put up numbers like that once again this season.
Alejandro De Aza was a nice late season addition and put up an .877 OPS with 11 extra-base hits in just 82 at-bats for the O’s. He didn’t look great in Chicago last season but did swipe 15 bags and was a 17 HR-20SB guy the year before so he’s got potential to bat in the mid-.200s with double-digit home runs and 20 or more steals. He’s not a bad doubles hitter, either, but his 119 strikeouts to 39 walks and mediocre glove are nothing to write home about.
Travis Snider isn’t a full-time starter and never has been one. It’s likely he won’t be here either but looked solid enough in 322 at-bats with the Pirates last season, batting .264 with a .776 OPS, 13 HR, 38 RBI, 37 R, and 15 2B.
Delmon Young figures to play some DH and gave the O’s solid production in limited time last season. He batted .302 with a .779 OPS, 7 HR, 30 RBI, and 27 R in just 242 at-bats but is a liability if used in the outfield.
David Lough has a very solid glove coming off the bench for the Orioles but leaves a lot to be desired at the plate.
Chris Parmelee is getting a shot to stay in the league after being unceremoniously booted from Minnesota. Through three seasons in the league, he’s proven a liability in the field and at the plate so Baltimore would be best to just move along.
Chris Tillman has blossomed into a very solid pitcher over the last two and half seasons. During that stretch he’s 38-16 with a 3.42 ERA, 1.195 WHIP, and 7.1 K/9 to 2.8 BB/9. He did a better job of keeping the ball in the park last season and, at 26, is still developing into a true ace.
Wei-Yin Chen, though unheralded, made great improvements last season and went 16-6 with a 3.54 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and walked just 35 batters in 185 innings. He was very serviceable in his first two years but if he can pitch like he did last year in 2015, the O’s have a formidable one-two punch at the top of the rotation.
Bud Norris struggled after moving from Houston to Baltimore in 2013 but settled in last year as he went 15-8 with a 3.65 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 139 K to 59 BB. If he can continue to keep his walks down he’s a very solid middle of the rotation pitcher but more often than not he’s a guy with an ERA north of 4.00 and a WHIP well above the acceptable MLB norm.
Miguel Gonzalez has quietly posted ERAs of 3.25 or lower in two of his first three seasons in the Bigs and while he doesn’t strike too many batters out and gives up more home runs than you’d like, he gives the O’s a chance to win every time out. He’s not going to wow anyone but his career 3.45 ERA and 1.25 WHIP speak for themselves.
Kevin Gausman only started 20 games in 2014 but looked promising as he posted a 3.57 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. The former top-10 prospect never posted ERAs below 3.00 in the minors but limited opposing baserunners and kept the ball in the park. At 24 and with just 161 MLB innings under his belt, we haven’t even seen what Gausman is capable of.
Ubaldo Jimenez was pulled early in his spring debut after giving up six runs and his first season with the Orioles wasn’t any more promising. After a great 2013 in Cleveland that saw him put up a 3.30 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and 194 K, he reverted to the Ubaldo we’ve grown accustomed to last season.
He started just 22 games and went 6-9 with a 4.81 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, and walked a whopping 5.5 batters per nine innings. He’s not going to be the 3.30 guy from 2013. At this point, the O’s can only hope he won’t be the 5.40 guy with a league-leading 17 losses we saw in 2012.
Zach Britton was a highly disappointing starter but has quickly blossomed into a brilliant closer. In his first season out of the pen, Britton saved 37 games out of a possible 41 and posted a 1.65 ERA and 0.90 WHIP. It looks Baltimore may have found their closer of the present and future.
Darren O’Day has been one of the best middle relievers in the game since 2009 and has been nothing but exceptional with the Orioles. The 1.70 ERA and 0.89 WHIP he posted last season are only slightly better than the 2.05 ERA and 0.94 WHIP he’s put up since moving to Baltimore and should remain one of the top set up men in the business.
Tommy Hunter, like Britton, found his calling after moving from the rotation to the pen. Over the last two seasons as a middle reliever, he owns a 2.88 ERA and 1.03 WHIP so there’s no reason to expect anything different this year.
Brian Matusz hasn’t had the same bullpen success as Hunter and Britton since moving to the pen but his 3.51 ERA and 1.24 WHIP over the last two seasons are nothing to scoff at. He’s solid.
Brad Brach struggled to keep runners off base in San Diego but had no such problems in his first season in Baltimore as he posted a 3.18 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. If he can keep the hit totals down he should have no problems.
Wesley Wright has quietly posted a 3.25 ERA and 1.28 WHIP since 2011 between the Astros, Rays, and Cubs.
T.J. McFarland is a quality lefty who posted a 2.76 ERA but allowed far too many hits for that to be sustainable.
The Orioles also have 40-year-old Mark Hendrickson in camp apparently trying to make a comeback after not appearing in a Big League game since 2011. Considering he posted ERAs north of 5.20 in four of his last five seasons, you’d think he’d be the last guy to attempt a comeback.
Offense: B to B+
Starting Pitching: B-
Bullpen: B to B+