Baltimore Orioles Players Who Will Be Even Better in 2013 Than 2012
One of the main reasons for the team's sudden success was the growth of many of the team's players, such as center fielder Adam Jones or DH Chris Davis.
Since the Orioles are a young team, much of their core group of players figures to continue to grow, in turn making the team stronger. Based on what happened with many of the players in 2012, it wouldn't be hard to believe more of the same could be on the horizon for the 2013 season.
Predicting growth in the game of baseball is never an exact science. However, I all but guarantee that you'll see some steps forward from the following players during the 2013 season.
Wei-Yin Chen, Starting Pitcher
Wei-Yin Chen was arguably the O's most reliable starter in 2012, as he was the only one of make at least 20 starts.
His rookie campaign was a very solid effort, as he went 12-10 with a 4.02 ERA in 192.2 innings over 32 starts, not to mention a sensational postseason performance.
Come August, Chen noticeably began to tire, as his pitches weren't as sharp and his numbers weren't as consistently strong. The young lefty wasn't used to such a heavy workload, having come from Japan where a starter pitches just once a week.
Now that Chen has a full season's worth of MLB experience under his belt, he knows what adjustments he needs to make to make himself a better pitcher, and hopefully will handle the workload in 2013 better as well.
Still, Chen was a phenomenal and important part of the O's playoff run in 2012. Assuming his body is now used to pitching as much as he did in 2012, he should only get better. A sub-four ERA this coming season is a possibility that I expect to see happen.
Adam Jones, Center Fielder
You might ask how it's possible for Adam Jones to finish with a better season in 2013 than he did in 2012. After all, he set career-highs with a .287 average and 32 homers, and tacked on 82 RBI for good measure. His 39 doubles and 16 stolen bases were also both career-highs. His fantastic season while leading the O's back to respectability earned him a sixth-place AL MVP finish.
Take into consideration that Jones' numbers have been getting progressively better in one way or another throughout his time in Baltimore. There's always been something that gets better for him every season; he refuses to waste a year and settle for where he's at as a player.
Jones is the type of hitter who, if he made just one or two adjustments, could suddenly become a legitimate MVP candidate year in and year out. His batting eye isn't the greatest, so he should work on becoming a more patient hitter who can take a walk, as he walked just 34 times in 2012, two shy of his career-high set in 2009.
What's more, Jones will be 27 at the start of the season, and 28 on the first of August. That's usually when players start to enter the prime of their careers and their best numbers are put up.
Don't be surprised if Jonesy puts up even better numbers in 2013.
Matt Wieters, Catcher
Though Matt Wieters is arguably the best defensive catcher in the majors, he hasn't yet lived up to his God-like billing as a hitter.
However, while most people recognize Wieters as an above-average hitting catcher, some fail to realize that and demand video game-type numbers from him.
Wieters matured as a defensive catcher much quicker than as an offensive one, and in my opinion the team was better off in that sense. His game-calling is top-notch, and he makes his pitchers feel very comfortable with him back there.
Like Jones, Wieters has improved upon something during every season he's been in the majors, and he'll turn 27 in the earlier part of the 2013 season. He should only grow as a hitter while maintaining his exceptional defensive quality, even if he's topped out power-wise.
Manny Machado, Third Baseman
When Manny Machado was called up to the majors, it shocked essentially everyone in the baseball world.
But what Machado's call-up did was provide defensive security at third base, a solid bat in the lower part of the order and a huge morale boost for the guys on the team.
One could argue (and I suspect there would be few who would argue this claim) that the call-up of Machado was the single most important roster move the Orioles' brass made during the 2012 season, based on the defensive and clubhouse boost the kid's energy brought to the team.
His batting line was solid at a .262 average with seven homers and 26 RBI over 191 at-bats, and though his .294 OBP left a lot to be desired, that will surely come up as he gains more experience hitting the nasty off-speed stuff of elite major-league arms.
The growth of Machado may be the most important piece for the Birds going into the new season. The better Machado is, the better the club is. That much was proven in 2012.
And with his rookie jitters out of the way, Machado is going to prove to be a very solid player for the team in 2013, and only get better in seasons to come.