The Baltimore Orioles have a clearly defined identity as a team filled with sluggers and they continued to build on that this off-season. Even though they clearly need starting pitching help, Baltimore grabbed a handful of position players in free agency. The strategy somewhat worked for them last year as the won just as many games as they lost. The question is, what will it take to get over the hump in a tough AL East?
Mark Trumbo, Hyun-Soo Kim, Joey Rickard, Yovanni Gallardo, Vance Worley, CJ Reifenhauser, Francisco Pena, Joey Terdoslavich, Steve Tolleson, Xavier Averym, Alfredo Marte, Todd Redmond, Chipper Smith, Jeff Beliveau
Wei-Yin Chen, Gerardo Para, Steve Pearce, Steve Clevenger, Steve Johnson, Junior Lake, Rey Navarro, Edgar Olmos, Andy Wilkins, Jorge Rondon
Biggest Strength - Power
Baltimore has the player might be the favorite in the competition of ‘who will hit the most homers this year’ in Chris Davis. On top of that, they added Mark Trumbo to DH next to him in the lineup and Manny Machado has shown up as a 30 homer guy himself. That’s three guys off the bat who could hit 30 homers. Don’t forget about Jonathan Schoop who many are projecting for a breakout year and Adam Jones is always solid all the way around. These guys might compete with the Blue Jays this year for most homers.
Biggest Weakness - Starting Pitching
The starting pitching situation for the Orioles leaves a lot to be desired. We found out Chris Tillman is as bad as we thought he was and he is still looking like he might be the best option to start the first game of the year for Baltimore. Ubaldo Jiminez has good games sometimes, but this is a ridiculous looking rotation. The signing of Yovani Gallardo adds another mediocre pitcher to the mix and helps a bit, but they should be one of the bottom five pitching teams in the league, especially pitching in the slugfest that is AL East.
Something to keep an eye on - New Outfield Options
The Orioles missed out of Dexter Fowler, but it’s ok because the other guys they got look pretty good. The one people have actually thought about and come to terms with is Hyun-Soo Kim and he could be very good. He profiles as a leadoff hitter with above average power and speed, overall a solid option.
A guy who should be getting a little more attention is Joey Rickard. He was picked in the Rule 5 Draft this year which means he has to stay on the big league roster all year. He offers less in the power category than most, but also profiles as a leadoff hitter with plus speed and very good on base skills. These two might start out as a platoon, but it wouldn't be surprising to see them playing themselves into full time roles in the corner outfield ahead of guys like Nolan Reimold, Mark Trumbo, Jimmy Paredes and LJ Hoes.
Projected Lineup… Lefties*… Switch Hitters^
- Hyun-Soo Kim* - LF
- Manny Machado - 3B
- Chris Davis* - 1B
- Adam Jones - CF
- Matt Wieters^ - C
- Mark Trumbo - DH
- Jonathan Schoop - 2B
- JJ Hardy - SS
- Joey Rickard - RF
Projected Rotation… Lefties*
- Ubaldo Jimenez
- Yovani Gallardo
- Chris Tillman
- Miguel Gonzalez
- Kevin Gausman
Zach Britton* - Closer
Fantasy Bargain - Hyun-Soo Kim
People are a little scared to draft Kim because we don’t fully know what we will get when he competes against MLB players yet, but that means that he’s available late in drafts. Truth is that there isn’t that much competition for him to carve out a full time spot in the outfield, and his tools are all there.
The on-base skills are elite and his numbers from Korea suggest he might even be able to compete with Joey Votto type numbers in that category. That’s enough right there to draft him, but he should also put up a dozen or so homers and steals with full time at bats. If he really does get on base as much as he did in Korea, he will probably be a top five run scorer with the power hitters behind him in the lineup.
Overrated Fantasy Option - Adam Jones
Seems like Jones is slowing down a bit. Last season he was only the 24th best outfielder in fantasy as he played through some injuries. Looks like he’s going in the low 30’s overall in drafts right now and you can probably wait a little longer than that to draft him. He will likely be a solid all around player like he always is, it’s just always about value in fantasy so don’t take him too high with unrealistic expectations.
Although this pitching staff is pretty bad, the offensive studs could make up for it. The bullpen hasn’t been mentioned much in this article yet, but they are a definite strength of this team as well. The Orioles definitely seem better than last year, but this AL East looks tough like it always does. It doesn't look like they’ll have quite enough pitching wise to compete for the division but should be good for 83 wins or so.