5 Struggling Baltimore Orioles You Should Reserve Judgment on
Spring training is over, final Opening Day 25-man rosters have been made and teams are at major league ballparks.
Let the games begin.
Going into the season, there is much worry and pessimism surrounding this Baltimore Orioles club, and those feelings are most certainly justifiable. The team seems to be in rebuilding mode yet again, and unless there's a dramatic turnaround from the young pitchers, it will be another long year in Birdland.
As everyone knows, spring training statistics hold almost no weight. A great spring doesn't guarantee a great regular season, just as a poor spring won't prove to turn into a poor regular season.
I'm going to tell you why some of the guys who had a bit of a rough spring shouldn't worry you.
At least, not yet anyway.
Jake Arrieta; Starting Pitcher
And we'll begin with your Opening Day starting pitcher, right-hander Jake Arrieta.
The young starter didn't have a fantastic spring training statistically—he pitched to a 6.14 ERA over 14.2 innings. He allowed 11 runs, ten of which were earned.
But get this: All ten of the earned runs he gave up were to the Pittsburgh Pirates, spread over two separate outings.
He did give up 17 hits, but he walked only four while striking out 12. And his fastball was routinely hitting 97 mph.
With his elbow finally fully healthy, Arrieta could be in for a breakout season. He's always described as having some of the best, if not the best, raw "stuff" on the staff, and with a healthy elbow, he should be able to locate it better over the course of the season.
And as we all know, a statistically bad spring training doesn't always mean a bad regular season. Just take a look at this former Orioles' pitcher's spring stats and you'll see what I mean.
Just don't let him face the Pirates during interleague play, and he should be fine.
Nolan Reimold; Left Field
Nolan Reimold had a tough time hitting the ball this spring, achieving only a .179 batting average over 56 at-bats.
And while he did hit two solo dingers, those two bombs were the only runs he drove in all spring.
Reimold will be probably be the starting left fielder on April 6, and could very well be the leadoff man. You shouldn't worry about that. I'm not.
I feel pretty confident that this is the season Reimold finally establishes himself as a major league player, having a batting line somewhere around .270/25/75 when the season ends.
He's got tremendous power potential, a great batting eye and speed out of the box. All he needs to do is relax and let his swing do the talking for him.
Oh, and improve in left field. But that will come with reps out there. Riding the bench is no way to get better at a position.
Tsuyoshi Wada; Starting Pitcher
As new GM Dan Duquette's first international signing, lefty Tsuyoshi Wada won't be on the team come Opening Day. Instead, he'll be staying back at extended spring training while waiting out his time on the 15-day disabled list.
He's expected to make at least two starts, and the club wants to see him throw at least 90 pitches each time out before he rejoins the big club.
Wada wasn't healthy for all of spring training, therefore, it isn't fair to judge him on his 9.00 ERA over five innings pitched. Manager Buck Showalter will only speak highly of the Japanese stud pitcher, and it seems as though Wada will be making his first start for the Orioles as soon as management deems him ready.
There's no sense in rushing him and potentially hurting his arm further, so this move definitely makes sense.
Wait until he has a nice handful of major league starts under his belt before you start to try and determine whether he's worth his two-year, $8.15 million contract.
Jim Johnson; Closer
OK, so he isn't officially the closer yet, but it's assumed at this point.
Jim Johnson was slowed by an injury early in the spring, but has since recovered enough to where he's ready for the season to start.
The biggest issue that fans have with him right now is not his 6.75 ERA over eight innings pitched, but the fact that he's missing about four mph on his fastball. He's been averaging around 92 this spring, and many Orioles fans are worried that such a dip in velocity will hurt his effectiveness.
Johnson isn't worried, however. He thinks the velocity will come back, and has stated it's more about pitch location and movement when trying to be an effective pitcher.
Expect Jim Johnson to be Jim Johnson this year.
Chris Davis; First Base
Chris Davis is looking to get his first shot at having a season to prove himself, and hopefully, he'll be able to cash in on that opportunity. He's got a nice glove at first, and power that can compete with the best of them, but...
(There's always a but.)
He strikes out a lot. Like, a lot. Not Mark Reynolds status, but around the same area as, say, the Philadelphia Phillies' Ryan Howard.
If Davis can just relax and hit the ball like he's capable of, he'll become one of the better power threats in all of baseball. And the O's could really use a huge lefty bat like that in their lineup.
Davis didn't have a terrible spring, but it wasn't great, either. He hit .254 with two homers and four RBI, struck out 19 times in 59 at-bats while only drawing one walk.
He'd certainly need to improve on those numbers to stick with the team in the years after this one, but of course, spring training has the word 'training' in it for a reason.
Wait and see how Davis performs for at least half the season before you make a decision on his ability as a player.