Baltimore managed to deal with a lot adversity and still won the AL East. When Matt Wieters and Manny Machado struggled with injuries, other players stepped up and contributed. They took the motto “next man up” to another level.
The AL East had a down year in 2014, but the Red Sox and Blue Jays added some major talent in the offseason. Baltimore will need some of last year’s magic to contend with them.
Can Wieters and Machado stay healthy in 2015?
Will Chris Davis regain the power and average he showed in 2013?
Here is the 2015 MLB season preview for the Baltimore Orioles.
2014 Win/Loss Record: 96-66
Key Additions: SS Everth Cabrera, RP Wesley Wright, OF Travis Snider, 1B Chris Parmelee, OF Alex Hassan, C J.P. Arencibia & C Ryan Lavarnway
Key Losses: OF Nick Markakis, OF Nelson Cruz, C Nick Hundley, 2B Steve Lombardozzi, RP Andrew Miller, RP Evan Meek, 2B Kelly Johnson, RP Troy Patton & RP Preston Guilmet
Interleague Schedule: NL East
Projected Starters: Matt Wieters, Chris Davis, Jonathan Schoop, Manny Machado, J.J. Hardy, Alejandro De Aza, Adam Jones, Travis Snider & Steve Pearce
Projected Starting Rotation: Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris, Miguel Gonzalez & Kevin Gausman
Closer: Zach Britton
Fantasy Sleeper: OF Travis Snider – We keep adding Snider to our fantasy teams in hopes he lives up to his potential. In 2010, he hit 14 homers in only 298 at-bats with Toronto. He has since teased us with streaky play. He was in a platoon with Gregory Polanco in Pittsburgh last season and hit pretty well. He mostly faced right-handed pitching, but in a small sample size (42 at-bats), he held his own against lefties. I’m curious to see if Baltimore allows him to face more this season. There isn’t a natural platoon option to match with Snider.
Prospect To Keep Your Eye On: SP Dylan Bundy – Bundy is only 22 years old, but has been on baseball fans’ radar since he was drafted 4th overall out of high school in the 2011 amateur draft. He looked like a future ace before needing Tommy John surgery in June 2013. He came back from the injury and pitched limited innings in the minors last season. Teams have been calling to see if he’s available via trade, but Baltimore are being patient. I expect Bundy to be in the Majors this season, but they may wait until at least mid-season to promote him.
Team Analysis: The Orioles ran away with the AL East crown by winning the division by twelve games. The once-dominant division had an off-year. The Yankees, Red Sox and Rays only had a combined winning percentage of .477. The trio has been the cream of the entire American League for the better part of the last decade.
Baltimore won the AL East in spite of three major issues: They didn’t have a reliable closer for a significant portion of the season, Manny Machado not being 100% at any point in the season and Matt Wieters needing Tommy John surgery.
Most of Baltimore’s key pieces are back in 2015. Outfielders Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis are both playing elsewhere, but Steve Pearce, who came on strong in 2014, and newly-acquired Travis Snider should do well in those roles.
Baltimore will battle Toronto and Boston for the AL East division. It will be close and believe both Wild Card spots in the American League will be won by AL East teams. The Orioles should make the postseason for the third time in the last four seasons.
2015 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 82.5 (Prediction: OVER)
2015 Projected Win/Loss Record: 87-75 (3rd in AL East)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.