Baltimore Orioles: 5 Players Who Should Have Tempered Expectations in 2013
There is little doubt that the Orioles were uncannily lucky during last season’s run. Their 29-9 record in one-run games during the regular season ranks as the third highest mark of all time. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the only two teams with better records in one-run games both achieved their milestones in the 19th century.
Perhaps the oddest part of the Orioles success was that it was produced by the cast of misfits and spare parts they called a roster. Relying on a number of rookies and journeymen, the Orioles were able to go wire to wire.
It will be hard but there is no reason the Orioles can’t be successful in 2013. However, there are five players who shouldn't be counted on as major contributors next season.
Click through to find out who.
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Dylan Bundy, Pitcher
Bundy was one of the hottest prospects in baseball in 2012. The right-handed pitcher with the electric arm went a combined 9-3 in the minors, with a 2.08 ERA in 23 starts. He then added two scoreless relief appearances at the end of the year with Baltimore.
Despite his success, the Orioles should be wary about leaning on Bundy too much in 2013, as he is about to turn 20 and only has 105.1 professional innings under his belt.
It’s not to say Bundy won’t be good. He’s as promising as any young pitcher in baseball. But being an integral part of an aspiring playoff team is asking a lot for such a young and inexperienced player.
Orioles fans shouldn't be disappointed if Bundy ultimately spends the majority of the 2013 season in the minors or in the Baltimore bullpen preparing for bigger and better things in the future.
Miguel Gonzalez, Pitcher
The improbable emergence of Gonzalez was one of the Orioles' best feel-good stories of the year.
A veteran of eight minor league seasons (including missing all of 2008 and 2009 due to injuries), Gonzalez made his MLB debut with Baltimore and became an integral part of their starting rotation down the stretch, going 9-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 18 games.
It’s a stretch that may indicate Gonzalez can continue pitching this well as a starter. Prior to this past year he had worked primarily as a reliever during his career, with 2007 being the only season he had thrown more than 79.2 innings.
Gonzalez lacks a dominant pitch, making him a better candidate to pitch out of the bullpen. He may contribute next season, but fans shouldn't expect a repeat of 2012.
Nate McLouth, Outfielder
Signed as a free agent back in June, McLouth was an invaluable contributor to the Baltimore outfield down the stretch, hitting .268 with seven home runs, 18 RBI, and 12 steals in 55 games.
An All-Star and Gold Glove-winning outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2008, McLouth looked done by 2010 and even inspired an internet forum that called for his immediate release. This made his brief resurgence with the outfield-starved Orioles such a pleasant surprise.
McLouth is once again a free agent, but there is a good chance the Orioles will bring him back. If they do they shouldn't hold their breath for him to come close to producing the way he did during his first season with the team.
McLouth is a career .248 hitter, who has hit above .258 exactly once in his eight major league seasons. He can be a good fourth or fifth outfielder, but the Orioles will likely regret it if they start next season with him in their regular lineup again.
Nolan Reimold, Outfielder
Reimold seems to be a perpetual top prospect for the Orioles, yet has never developed into the type of player he once seemed destined to become. Having just turned 29, he must be seen for what he is—an outfielder with a little pop who can’t seem to stay on the field.
During the past three seasons, Reimold has played in a total of just 275 games between the Orioles and their minor league affiliates. In 2012, he saw the field just 16 times with Baltimore, which was a shame because of the opportunity that existed for him.
Believing Reimold can put together a full and productive season is a fool’s errand at this point. It’s more prudent to expect more of the same and be pleasantly surprised if he contributes anything more.
Tommy Hunter, Pitcher
A playoff team is living dangerously if they rely on a pitcher as homer-prone as Hunter. He allowed a staggering 32 bombs in 133.2 innings last season, which was a major contributor to his 5.45 ERA.
The Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly detailed in late August how Hunter was closing in on the all-time record of home runs allowed per nine innings in a season for an ERA qualifier.
However, by going his final 12.1 innings without allowing a homer, he ended the season with a mark of 2.16 and just missed Jose Lima’s record of 2.20, which was set in 1999.
Hunter throws hard, but the Orioles can’t afford to have such a volatile pitcher in their rotation if they have playoff aspirations in 2013. The team needs to tread lightly with whichever way they decide to use him next season.
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