Long Way Ahead:
Season in Review: Baltimore Orioles
This is the review series that the Dingerball Podcast promised on Twitter, Jacob and I will review each MLB team from this past season over the next month and discuss their future. We will start in the AL East and maneuver our way to the other divisions. As always, this content will be posted on our podcast as well. (link to our latest podcast is below!)
Man, the Orioles are our starting point? I guess Drake said it best when he said, “Started from the bottom.” This is exactly where the lowly team from Baltimore, Maryland sits and has sat for the past three years. We can review some key stats from 2019 in the following table.
The Orioles have not been a contender for the past three years in the MLB or AL East. They have finished in last place for the past three years since their most recent playoff appearance. The surprising downturn of key players such as Chris Davis has led the Orioles into a dark abyss that will be hard to climb out from. Luckily for them, they are without many great scandals such as the Astros, but they do have the stink of a bad team that is hard to wear off. However, there are some bright points that will try to turn this ship around in Baltimore.
2019 was not the season to be a fan of the birds of Baltimore. The lack of talent, the great baseball division, and more than double the amount of losses than wins all had the fan’s hopes bleak. It was not all bleak in Maryland though, as there were a couple bright spots on the team.
The first of those bright spots had to be the runner up for AL Rookie of the Year, John Means. Means had a stellar rookie campaign for the Orioles with a 3.60 ERA, 12-11 record, and 121 strikeouts. The key for the 25-year-old out of Gardner, Kansas was staying away from the long ball with only 1.3 per nine innings, keeping walks to a minimum with a 3.18 Strikeout to Walk ratio, and an All-Star worthy first half of 2019. John looks to be a key part of this Orioles rebuild which we will talk more about later in this post.
The next player who was a bright point on the team was infielder, Jonathon Villar, who posted a decent 2019 season. He laid down a 4.0 WAR with a hitting slash line of .274/.339/.453 which is not tremendous but should be noted. Villar, only 28 years old, could be a key part of the Orioles rebuild. He could either be a core piece to the build or just a solid mid-season trade piece to return prospects to fuel a rebuild.
The final bright spot has to be Trey Mancini. Trey was a big-time power threat for the Orioles hitting a total of 35 home runs with an admirable .291/.364/.535 split. Mancini, 27 years old, looks to add some power to a Orioles team that looks destined to be a last place contender. It would be interesting to see if he potentially comes up in trade talks within the next year or two to build prospect capital.
That is about all the major light spots that could be shed on the Orioles, and man is there a lot of darkness. The massive contract of Chris Davis should be the focal point for most fans, as he has not earned the money he was given. With Davis signed until 2022 on the rest of his 161-million-dollar deal, we probably won’t see any large signings by the O’s.
Another large issue for the Orioles going forward is the dreadful pitching staff minus John Means. With a total team ERA of 5.59, the team will not be winning many games, not even if they have the best offensive in the game. It also doesn’t help that the Yankees destroyed the O’s with homers at every game in Baltimore this year. If they look to get any traction going in the future, look for them to fix their pitching staff and the consistent performance of their entire team.
The Orioles don’t have much hope at being contenders like I stated earlier in this article, but there are some names in the minor leagues that could change that. The most important of those names is the number 1 overall draft selection of the 2019 MLB Draft, Adley Rutschman. Adley, 21-years-old, is a switch-hitting backstop from Oregon State University in lovely Corvallis, Oregon. His name is the first bit of hope that the Orioles have had in the past few years. In his final season at OSU, he was a force to be reckoned with yielding a .411/.575/.751 split with 17 homers. His current MILB stint between Rookie ball and the A level is not nearly the same level of dominance slashing only a .254/.351/.423 line. There should not be any alarms going off though, good players take time to develop. Everyone should be waiting for the debut of Adley. Other names to keep an eye on are Grayson Rodriguez, DL Hall, Ryan Mountcastle, and Yusniel Diaz.
With all this rebuilding, it would be hard for me to see the O’s breaking out the wallet for premium free agents this offseason or even the next 2-3 offseasons. They still have a large obligation to Chris Davis that they need to handle, and their money is better off elsewhere (like trying to entertain their fans).
Now comes the fun part of this, which is to predict when the Orioles may be a successful team again. I see them being successful after the Chris Davis era is over. They will have the capital to spend on another asset to build their franchise around and should have Adley Rutschman and potentially a few other top draft picks to come over the next 2-3 years. With the talent that is currently in their minor league club should result in a decent team, right? In time we will surely see, but if you liked this article be sure to listen to our next podcast where will break down some more on the O’s and what their future looks like.