The AL East bounced back last season after a poor 2015 season. The Yankees and Red Sox made trades to improve their teams and the Orioles and Blue Jays both made it to the Wild Card game last year. I expect another four-team chase all season. An injury or trade could be the difference between first and fourth place in the AL East.
How will Mark Trumbo perform after getting rewarded with a new deal?
Here is the 2017 MLB season preview for the Baltimore Orioles.
2016 Win/Loss Record: 89-73
Key Additions: C Welington Castillo, OF Seth Smith, RP Vidal Nuno, 3B Chris Johnson, SP Logan Verrett, SP Gabriel Ynoa, RP Richard Bleier, 2B Robert Andino, OF Craig Gentry, 2B Johnny Giavotella, OF Logan Schafer & SP Zach Stewart
Key Losses: C Matt Wieters, SP Yovani Gallardo, OF Nolan Reimold, OF Steve Pearce & RP Vance Worley
Interleague Schedule: NL Central
Projected Starters: Welington Castillo, Chris Davis, Jonathan Schoop, Manny Machado, J.J. Hardy, Hyun Soo Kim, Adam Jones, Seth Smith & Mark Trumbo
Projected Starting Rotation: Chris Tillman, Kevin Guasman, Dylan Bundy, Wade Miley & Ubaldo Jimenez
Closer: Zach Britton
Fantasy Sleeper: SP Dylan Bundy – Bundy was once the top prospect in all of baseball. He was labled as ‘can’t miss’, then the injuries happened. He underwent Tommy John during the 2013 season, then he had a calcification issue in his shoulder a year later. Bundy started the 2016 season without any minor league options, so he had to stick on the main roster or he would have to be put on waivers. He started 14 games and went 10-6 with a 4.02 ERA. His xFIP was 4.61, so it shows that he may have gotten a little lucky last year. I still think it was a solid year overall. It will only get better for him and he will be ramped up in innings this season. He could be a nice source for wins and strikeouts this season, but could be limited to 170 innings.
Prospect To Keep Your Eye On: C Chance Sisco – It was tough to see Matt Wieters walk this offseason, but Baltimore should be set behind the plate for awhile. They signed Welington Castillo to a one-year deal with an option for next season, so Chance Sisco’s time is coming soon. He will start the year in Triple-A and will hopefully see his home run total increase. He’s a very good hitter and he hit 28 doubles in Double-A last season. His .320 batting average was pretty darn good too. He could turn into a .275 and 20+ homer hitter in a few years, so keep an eye on him.
Team Analysis: The Orioles should have went farther in the playoffs last season. Manager Buck Showalter should have used ‘lights out’ closer Zach Britton in the 11th inning of the AL Wild Card Game. He used Ubaldo Jimenez instead…UBALDO JIMENEZ! Britton’s ERA on the season was 0.54 and he still went with Ubaldo. I would be calling for Showalter’s job if it wasn’t for the fact that Baltimore overachieved just to get there, They only had a +29 run differential on the year. If you use Bill James’ Pythagorean expectation equation for win ratio, they should have only won 84 games.
Baltimore is going to have one of the most powerful lineups in baseball again. Last year’s acquisition if Mark Trumbo paid off in spades and he earned a new three-year contract this offseason. I’m not sure if he can ever match last year’s output, but Chris Davis and Manny Machado should keep hitting homers at the same rate.
The starting rotation seems to always be a work in progress in Baltimore. Chris Tillman and Kevin Gausman shouldn’t be any team’s top-of-the-rotation starters, but they make it work. It may not be pretty, but their offense gets them out of a lot of jams. There weren’t many top arms available this offseason, so they couldn’t do much to improve the rotation. Next offseason could be when Baltimore opens their checkbooks and overpays for an ace.
I don’t expect Baltimore to make the postseason this year, but they should be in the mix for a Wild Card spot for most of the season. I just don’t think they rotation will hold up and their offense won’t be able to bail them out as much this year.
2017 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 81 (Prediction: OVER)
2017 Projected Win/Loss Record: 82-80 (4th 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.