1 Bold Prediction for Every Player on Baltimore Orioles 25-Man Roster
One of the favorite things of sports fans is to throw around predictions to one another prior to and during the season.
Making claims on team's records, division standings and individual performances; it's practically a national pastime.
For Baltimore Orioles fans, a familiar roster is returning to start the season. Only a few new faces are on it. So for the most part, O's fans should know what to expect from this roster.
Or should they? That's one of the great things about baseball: It's so unpredictable. However, I'm going to try to do just that by proclaiming one bold prediction for each player on the O's Opening Day 25-man roster.
Matt Wieters, Catcher
The Os prized homegrown catcher will break out and hit 30 home runs this season.
His run production has been getting better since he's broken into the bigs, and with this being his fifth season, Matt Wieters will continue to grow offensively while maintaining his fantastic defense and hit 30 homers for the first time in his career.
Chris Davis, First Baseman
Chris Davis will drive in 100 runs for the first time in his career.
The big left-handed hitter showed his ability to provide consistent power over the course of a full season during 2012, and led the team in RBI with 85. Davis will maintain a similar average and home run total in 2013, but he will tack on at least another 15 RBI before the season is finished.
Brian Roberts, Second Baseman
The longest-tenured Oriole, Brian Roberts will play in at least 81 games this year.
Roberts has struggled to stay on the field the last three seasons due to various injuries. This will finally be the year where Roberts can be a contributor for a winning Orioles team, even if he has to rest more often than other regulars to prevent injuries.
Manny Machado, Third Baseman
The 20-year-old Manny Machado has hefty expectations to live up to, and this is the year he'll begin to live up to them. During his first full big-league season, Machado will hit 20 home runs while batting at least .270 and driving in around 65 runs.
It'll be a successful season for Machado.
J.J. Hardy, Shortstop
After a down offensive year in 2012, J.J. Hardy (pictured) will rebound. His home run and RBI numbers will remain relatively the same, but his average will creep up to .260 or better, and his OBP will be around .315, at the lowest. Not overwhelming numbers, but much better than what he displayed last season and good enough for a Gold Glove shortstop with some pop batting in the lower portion of the order.
Nate McLouth, Left Fielder
Nate McLouth will be given the chance to play all season unless a poor performance forces him to the bench or off of the club, but I don't see that happening.
McLouth will provide a solid offensive attack, similar to what he did when he was called up by the O's last season, but he'll also steal at least 30 bases. His career high is 23, so it will take a lot of getting on base and running for McLouth to accomplish that, but he certainly has the ability.
Adam Jones, Center Fielder
Adam Jones will drive in 100 runs for the first time in his career this season. His average will climb a few points to allow him to do so, and his home run total will remain around where it was in 2012. But the face of the franchise will declare himself a top run-producer.
Nick Markakis, Right Fielder
After getting off to a good start last season, Nick Markakis got injured and missed much of the season. Should he remain healthy this year, Markakis will hit 20 or more home runs for the first time since 2008.
Nolan Reimold, Designated Hitter
Here's two bold predictions for Nolan Reimold: He'll stay healthy for most or all of the season, and he'll hit 25 to 30 home runs.
He's always had the batting ability but has never been able to stay on the field long enough to make it happen. He started off really hot last season only to suffer a season-ending injury. This will be the year he finally proves himself. And if it isn't, he may not be given another chance.
The Starting Rotation
The ace by default, Jason Hammel will get the ball in the season opener opposite the Tampa Bay Rays' David Price. And it will be the first of many starts for Hammel. This season, Hammel will stay healthy all season long, allowing him to win 13 games and maintain an ERA below the 3.50 mark.
Wei-Yin Chen (pictured) had a superb rookie year in 2012 and looks to build on that again this season. Due to Chen's ability to stay healthy and keep himself in every start, the talented left-hander will lead the team in wins with 15 this year while keeping his ERA under 4.00.
The 2013 season will be another step forward for Chen.
A surprise contributor down the stretch last season, Miguel Gonzalez is being given the opportunity to be in the starting rotation this season. Gonzalez will start off slow but finish the year strong, with a respectable 4.50 ERA and nine wins. He'll maintain his spot in the rotation, contrary to popular belief, but will be slotted down to the fifth starter slot soon enough.
The talented right-hander will finally start to show signs of putting it all together at the big league level this season, as he'll swing back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen based on the team's need and hold strong with an ERA around 4.00 and eight to 10 wins.
After taking a step forward last season, Chris Tillman will look to improve on that even further, and he'll do so in 2013. Tillman will finish the season with an ERA around 2.80 but only roughly a dozen wins due to missing time with injuries.
The righty with the heavy sinker will again have a successful season, saving over 40 games and possessing an ERA under 2.50.
Pedro Strop will use his intimidating heat to set up in the late innings for Johnson and will keep his ERA under 3.00 while striking out more batters than the total innings he'll pitch.
A key cog in the bullpen last season and Showalter's go-to guy in the postseason, Darren O'Day (pictured) will be Johnson's primary setup man and will keep his ERA below 2.00 the whole season.
Luis Ayala will have trouble repeating the same success he had last year, but he will still be a useful middle-inning reliever. With an ERA around 4.25, Showalter will avoid using Ayala in crucial situations, but Ayala will be a good option in the fifth or sixth innings when the game isn't on the line.
Troy Patton will be a key lefty-on-lefty matchup guy out of the pen, and he'll be used primarily in that role while he keeps his ERA just a tick below 3.00.
T. J. McFarland
The Rule V draft pick will struggle in the bigs this season, with the O's eventually having to send him down to the minor leagues. The Cleveland Indians wont take him back, allowing the Orioles to keep him and give him more time to learn in the minors.
Tommy Hunter will be able to cut back on his home runs allowed this year and prove to be an effective long reliever and occasional late-inning reliever, keeping his ERA around 4.50 and winning more games than he loses.
The last two seasons have been pretty rough for Brian Matusz overall, but the left-hander will turn things around this year by pitching well out of the 'pen and eventually earning his way back into the rotation to make a few starts.
Baby steps forward toward getting Matusz back on track.
Taylor Teagarden will stay healthy all season, proving to be one of the better backup catchers in all of baseball with good defensive play and a bat that's good enough for someone in his role.
Ryan Flaherty (pictured) will take steps forward offensively this year and eventually convince the team that hes good enough to take over the second base job permanently should the team decide to let Brian Roberts walk at the end of the season.
Flaherty will force himself into plenty of playing time with his solid bat and injuries to other players.
The right-handed corner outfielder will stay hot at the beginning of the season but eventually come back down to Earth and cool off to the point where the team sends him back down in favor of another utility player such as Conor Jackson.
Alexi Casilla won't provide much for the team in terms of offense, but he will be a solid late-game defensive replacement and occasional starter to give guys like Roberts and Hardy a break. Casilla will swipe 25 bags for the team in a combination of his occasional playing time and plenty of pinch-running opportunities.