Baltimore Orioles: planning to prove analysts wrong, yet again


The Orioles orange carpet on opening day in 2017. Opening day is always a fun experience and it sets the tone for the rest of the season.


The Baltimore Orioles had a rough season last year, but this season their record should improve even though the team still has their downfalls. The Orioles have depth in the bullpen, but their starting rotation is rebuilding. Their starting pitching has lacked over the past three to four years, which could have caused them longer playoff runs and possibly a World Series title. Besides starting pitching, the Orioles have their strengths. They are known to have good offense because they are known to hit home runs in clutch situations. Also, they have good defense because they have made less errors than the Major League average over the past five years. 

The Orioles starting rotation contains Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman as the number 1 and 2 starters. They are both young and have the potential to be all-star pitchers, but haven’t lived up to their expectations the past few seasons. This could be their year to break out. 2016 was Bundy’s first full year pitching in the major leagues since 2012 when he only played two games. Bundy only played two games because he received Tommy John surgery to reconstruct his elbow at the age of 20. In the upcoming season he should be fully recovered from his surgery and be able to go a full season without an innings pitched limit. Kevin Gausman has been healthy throughout his four-year career in the majors, but his earned run average has been up and down each year. His best season was in 2014 when his ERA (earned run average) was 3.57. If Gausman can have another year like 2014, the Orioles starting pitchers ERA would go down, making a playoff run more likely. Behind the two young pitchers is Andrew Cashner. The Orioles signed Cashner via free agency. Cashner was with the Texas Rangers last season with an ERA of 3.40 and his MLB career ERA is 3.80. The Rangers stadium, Globe Life Park, is an extreme hitter’s ballpark, which means pitchers would have higher ERAs’ than normal. Camden Yards is also a hitter’s ballpark, so Cashner should adjust to the new stadium easily. Also, on March 21, the Orioles signed Alex Cobb to a four-year deal. Cobb was a starting pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays for the past six years. Cobb has a 3.50 career ERA, which is very tough during the recent home run surge. Cobb could be the one big push the Orioles needed to be a contender this season. Although the first four spots in the rotation are set, the Orioles are still taking in their options for their fifth starter. They are considering veteran Chris Tillman, who is in the downfall of his career with an ERA of over seven runs per game last season. Young pitchers also being considered are Hunter Harvey (23) and Gabriel Ynoa (24). Harvey has already undergone Tommy John surgery and has recently had a fractured leg, holding him back from being in the Major Leagues. Harvey is looking to be healthy in the 2018 season, but most likely would have an innings pitched limit. Gabriel Ynoa has only had two years in the Majors, but has mainly been in the bullpen. His transition to starting pitcher would be difficult but is still a top consideration for the last spot. Although the Orioles are still seeking a set rotation, their bullpen is mainly finished. 

The Orioles bullpen has been known to be amazing in the past. The past two seasons the Orioles have had one of, if not, the best back end of the bullpen in baseball. Brad Brach, Darren O’Day, and Zach Britton have been one of the best combinations for bullpen pitchers the past three seasons. Zach Britton has been the closer and had an exceptional year in 2016 with an ERA of 0.54, which nowadays is unheard of. However, Britton is currently on the 60-day disabled list and is expected to return in May. Britton ruptured his Achilles last season but will return healthy close to the beginning of the season. Although their closer is injured, Brach and O’Day will step up to be the closer and eighth inning pitchers. Last season, after Britton was injured, Brach stepped into the closing role. He did very well, considering he had never been a closer before. O’Day will now be the eighth inning reliever with his deceptive delivery. He is a submarine pitcher, which means he throws nearly underhand and almost hits the ground when he pitches. His pitching deceives the batters, making him great. The Orioles also have relievers that can pitch multiple innings when a starter must come out of a game early. Miguel Castro and Mychal Givens both can go four or more innings if needed. Castro only appeared in 39 games but had 66 innings pitched which means he almost pitched two innings per game. Givens appeared in 69 games and pitched 78 innings. He also pitched more than one inning per game on average. The Orioles have a strong bullpen and have hitters to help them win games in the last few innings if they are losing. 

The Orioles have a very good offensive team which is a main factor when they win. Hitters like Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Trey Mancini, and Jonathan Schoop can all hit for power. Machado had the most barrels in baseball last season, which means he hit many balls at a certain angle over 100 miles per hour. Although his average was not the best, he was hitting the ball hard, just not in the right spots. He is one of the top players in the game both offensively and defensively and has a great career ahead of him. Adam Jones is a veteran Oriole and has been one of the most consistent hitters in baseball. Many MLB analysts, such as Harold Reynolds, have called Jones ‘Mr. Consistency’ because of his high career average (.278) and his ability to hit twenty or more home runs each season. Chris Davis, however, is not as consistent as Jones. Davis hit 53 home runs in 2013 and had an average of .286, but 2017 was not his best season. He had 195 strikeouts in 456 at bats, which means he struck out about every two at bats. Davis has the potential to hit 40-50 home runs a season, but strikeouts out too much. If he can strike out less, he could be a batter that pitchers don’t want to face. Trey Mancini is a young player that has transitioned to the majors very well. Mancini hit .293 and had 24 home runs in his rookie season last year. Lastly, Jonathan Schoop is a consistent hitter, with a climbing batting average and home run total over the past three seasons. The combination of Machado, Jones, Davis, Mancini, and Schoop could help the Orioles score more runs to win games, along with the help of their defense. 

The Orioles have had a shutdown defense for the past few years, helping them win ballgames. Manny Machado, who was a natural shortstop moved to third base when he came to the Orioles. For this season Machado decided to move back to shortstop, making Tim Beckham the third baseman. Machado was one of the top three third baseman in the game but will now be a top shortstop. Beckham has played very few games at third base in his career but has made no errors at that position, so he should transition well. At second base, the Orioles have Jonathan Schoop. Schoop and Machado will combine to be one of the best double-play combinations in baseball because they both throw hard and accurately. They can also make unbelievable diving plays to rob players of hits. Chris Davis is the Orioles first baseman and is very underrated defensively. He has a career fielding percentage of .995 at first base and has saved his infielders on making errors by picking low throws or jumping for ones over his head. In centerfield is Adam Jones with a career fielding percentage of .986 in the outfield. Jones will also make diving plays, saving his pitchers from giving up extra base hits. The Orioles have a strong infield and outfield which could lead them to a playoff run. 

A playoff run is very possible even though many baseball analysts and sabermetric systems predict the Orioles to be last in the American League East division. One sabermetric system PECOTA, predicts the Orioles to have 69 wins this season. PECOTA has predicted the Orioles to win less games than they really do the past four years. The Orioles have won five or more games than predicted by PECOTA the past few years. Anthony Fenech and George Sipple also predict the Orioles to be last in their division. Although these predictions are not the best, they were made before the key signings of Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner which could be a huge difference maker. They both add depth to what looked like a terrible rotation, but is now new and improved. The Orioles are looking to prove analysts wrong again and possibly earn more respect for the 2019 season.  

In conclusion, the Orioles are looking to have a better year than last season with new additions to their starting rotation and returning players with power bats and good defense. Key players will be Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop, Trey Mancini, Adam Jones, Dylan Bundy, and Alex Cobb. The hope for the season is to win the World Series to prove baseball analysts wrong because they predict the Orioles to finish last every season.