There have been plenty of surprises (Manny Machado's doubles, Chris Davis' home runs) and just as many disappointments (pitching struggles, injuries) throughout the season so far, as baseball often provides.
Heading into the second half, one interesting thing to keep an eye on will be whether or not players having strong years can keep that going as well as struggling players turning their years around.
Let's take a look at how I think the second half of the season will treat every Orioles player.
Right now, Wieters is batting just .227 with a .290 OBP. The power numbers are there, as evidenced by his 10 homers and 39 RBI, but his average leaves a lot to be desired. Over the course of the second half of the season, Wieters will bring his average up to around .250 with the power numbers remaining the same. He'll also go on a bit of a power tear at some point and set a new career high in homers with 24 big flies this season.
Chris Davis—First Baseman
Davis has been putting up video game numbers the entire season. A .330 average accompanied by 28 homers and 74 RBI puts him on pace to set a new O's franchise record in homers (currently being held by Brady Anderson with 50). I believe Davis will do just that, as he'll end up hitting 54-56 balls out of the park by season's end. As much as I'd love to see him maintain his current batting average, I do think it'll fall to the .300 region, but hey, that's nothing to complain about either.
Ryan Flaherty—Second Baseman
Flaherty started the season slow. Very slow. Lately though, he's picked it up with his bat while playing good defense at second. With the imminent return of Brian Roberts, Flaherty seems like he's about to lose some at-bats, which won't bode well for the young infielder. As he needs plenty of playing time to keep his bat going, he'll finish the season around a .215 batting average should Roberts remain healthy and Flaherty remain on the bench. However, he'll have every chance to win his job back in 2014 after Roberts' contract expires.
Manny Machado—Third Baseman
Youngster Manny Machado has turned into about the best two-hole hitter in baseball this season, batting .319 with a .349 OBP. But what's pretty incredible is his doubles total: He's already ripped 37 doubles this year. Machado is on pace to break the MLB doubles record (67) set in 1931 by Earl Webb. I think he'll do exactly that. While he may not reach the 74 that he's on pace for, I think he'll hit at least 69, maybe even 70. The reason being is because Machado hasn't just had two or three weeks where he's been raking doubles to boost his overall total. He's been lining balls into gaps for nearly two months, showing that it's no fluke and that he really is a doubles hitter at this early stage in his career. Even more, I believe Machado will make a run at the AL MVP award, finishing in the top five in voting.
The Orioles' shortstop is quietly having a very solid season, hitting .261 with 15 homers and 46 RBI while mostly hitting seventh in the O's lineup. Over the second half the the season, I believe Hardy will hit 15 homers, just like the first half, having him reach 30 homers for the second time in the last three seasons. He won't reach 90 RBI, though, as he's on pace for just over that number. He'll probably finish the season around 75 or 80 RBI, which is nothing to be ashamed of especially from a shortstop. Once again, the O's will have one of the most productive offensive and defensive shortstops in baseball.
Adam Jones—Center Fielder
As per usual, Adam Jones is having a great season for the team he is the clubhouse leader of. This may not seem like much of a prediction, but I think he'll continue to be a consistent force in the O's lineup and out in center field and basically match his first-half numbers. I see him hitting 15 more homers, driving in around 50-60 RBI, and batting around .300 over the season's latter half. The one thing Jones still needs to work on is his OBP, but hey, no player is perfect.
Nick Markakis—Right Fielder
One of the most consistent all-around bats, Markakis is having a typical year. His average of .284 is a little low for him, but I believe he'll bring it up to around .300 by season's end, while also reaching 40 doubles and 80 RBI. His home run total for the second half will be seven, give or take, giving him a mid-teens home run total when the 2013 regular season ends.
Nate McLouth—Left Fielder
McLouth has been a much-needed spark plug atop the O's order in 2013, as he has hit for solid average, getting on base at a high clip, stealing bases, and hitting the occasional clutch home run. Currently, McLouth has swiped 24 bases, and while I don't think he'll double that number in the second half, I do think he'll steal at least 16 more bases in the team's final 81 games, totaling 40 on the year. He'll also reach 30 doubles, giving the O's an incredible trio of doubles hitters atop their lineup with McLouth, Machado and Markakis.
Alexi Casilla—Utility Infielder
Casilla is having the kind of year where his stats look cruddy but he's really contributing to his team. He's playing plus defense when he gets on the field, and I can recall at least three key go-ahead hits the switch-hitter has delivered throughout the season. Over the second half of the season, don't expect much from Casilla in terms of offense, but do expect him to be used as a pinch-hitter, occasional second-baseman, in against lefties should Roberts go down again, and Sabathia killer.
Dickerson has contributed just as much as Casilla has, maybe even a bit more, from his bench role. He'll get the occasional start to give an outfielder a rest of at the DH spot, and seems to have a knack for key home runs. The lefty has four homers thus far, and don't expect him to double that total, though adding one or two more certainly is a realistic goal. However, I'll go out on a limb and predict that the Orioles approach Dickerson about signing on for next year to remain the team's fourth outfielder before season's end.
Brian Roberts—Second Baseman
The longest-tenured player on the Orioles, Roberts (pictured) has been on the DL since the third game of the season. Yep, unfortunately it's been the same thing as the last three years for the former All-Star. Slated to return to the lineup on Sunday night against the New York Yankees, Roberts will look to finish the season healthy in hopes of lining up a new deal with the O's or another club. Roberts won't be able to reach that goal, though, as he'll likely get injured once more and miss some time, but return for the end of the season and the playoffs should the O's make it into October.
Teagarden has been exactly what's expected of a backup catcher: all glove, no bat. He has supplied two homers, but is batting just .097 through 31 at-bats. Teagarden will be able to bring his average up to just above the .200 mark over the course of the rest of the season.
Travis Ishikawa—First Baseman
The O's called up Ishikawa just as he was ready to opt out of his minor league deal when they put Steve Pearce on the DL. Should they try to send him back down when Pearce is ready to return, he'll surely refuse, so look to see Ishikawa dealt within the next week or two in order to keep him out of the AL East.
Steve Pearce—First Baseman/Corner Outfielder
Pearce was having a solid season with the bat off the bench before he needed to spend some time on the 15-day DL, and when he returns, look for him to do much of the same over the second half of the season. His average won't be too low or too high, and he'll provide a little bit of pop getting starts against left-handed pitchers. He'll be a solid force off the bench for his team.
Wei-Yin Chen—Starting Pitcher
The lefty Chen is due to come off the DL this week, and for the O's, he can't come back soon enough. He was their most reliable starter before he injured himself, and his return will ease the bullpen a little while giving manager Buck Showalter an easier time planning his rotation on a day-to-day basis. Chen, along with Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman, should help solidify a struggling O's pitching staff.
With a 6-3 record and a 3.77 ERA, this writer is a little surprised at the success Gonzalez is having this season. Not that I expected a terrible year, but I figured he'd give the team an ERA around the 4.25 mark. However, he's stepping up as a go-to guy for a team in need of one, and only seems to be getting better as the season progresses. For that reason, I'll peg him to win seven more games over the second half of the year and balance his ERA out to a nice 3.75.
Britton has been good at times, and not so good at others, but has only had a few starts this season. With the O's rotation in need of some stability, I believe that Showalter will keep Britton around and give him a few more chances, chances which Britton will turn into a .500 record and 4.50-ish ERA. Eventually, he'll be unseated by Kevin Gausman, as Gausman will pitch very well from the pen and earn another shot at the rotation.
Tillman is building off of the success he had last season and, much like Gonzalez, he has become a go-to guy for the team. His 9-2 record is superb, and his 3.72 ERA is a good number. I believe in Tillman's ability to grow into a good pitcher, and I think he'll step towards that over the course of the rest of the season, winning seven more starts and lowering his ERA to about 3.15, making him the O's number one pitcher headed into the playoffs.
The picture of Hammel that accompanies this slide is the perfect depiction of how the big righty's season has gone. He has been nothing like the Hammel of 2012, and while his record is a positive 7-4, his ERA sits at 5.09 compared to last year's 3.43. Unfortunately, I don't see Hammel turning his season around much, and though he'll still grab some wins due to great run support and eat some innings for the club, I can't see him dropping his ERA much, if at all. Hammel won't be horrible for the team during the second half of the season, but he won't be what they need, either.
To no one's surprise, O'Day is having another fantastic year, pitching to a 3-0 record and 2.31 ERA. He'll finish the year with five wins and a 2.27 ERA, proving once again to be one of the best setup men in baseball.
A solid lefty option from the bullpen, Matusz has a 2-1 record with a 3.90 ERA. Look for him to lower that ERA number to about 3.40 by season's end, ending the season on a high note and putting him in discussion for a rotation spot in 2014.
Gausman picked up his first major league win on Friday night against the Yankees, pitching 4.1 innings of scoreless ball out of the bullpen. Gausman will experience more success from the 'pen in the second half of the season, and earn another shot at the rotation, where he'll win three games and lower his season ERA to around 4.40, allowing him to experience some success heading into next season.
The lefty Patton started the season strong, but hit a rough patch of a few weeks that spiked his ERA. He has since settled down and brought it from just over 5.00 to a 3.82 mark, and expect Patton to continue that trend, as he should finish the season with a solid mark of around 3.20 with a 4-2 record.
Hunter (pictured) has been quite the surprise for the O's this season, going from the long reliever to a key setup man in their bullpen. His 3-1 record and 2.03 ERA are outstanding, and while I think he can maintain that success throughout the second half of the year, I do think he'll allow his ERA to go up just a little. Expect something like a 4-3 record and 2.35 ERA from him at season's end.
McFarland has done a nice job for the O's out of the pen, and the Rule V is pick is especially impressing when you take into account that he had never pitched above the AA level before this season. McFarland likely won't get another start this season, and he'll win a couple more games, lose one, and end the season with an ERA around 4.50. Most notably, he'll pitch at least 90 innings in his first full major league year.
The Orioles closer has had his struggles this season, and while his five blown saves have ballooned his ERA, he's been dominant otherwise as evidenced by the fact that he leads the league in saves. I'm going to take a chance here and say that Johnson blows only one more save this season, in August, and that he'll lower his ERA to just a tick below 3.00. He currently leads the league in games and games finished, so expect Showalter to try and give him a little more time off during the season's second half, as well as 18 more saves, giving him a total of 45 on the year.