Pitchers and catchers have just recently reported to Sarasota, Fla., for the start of the Orioles' 2011 Spring Training.
With a busy offseason by Orioles general manger Andy MacPhail, for the first time since 2004, a sense of excitement has returned to Baltimore this spring.
With the Orioles' first Spring Training game just weeks away and Opening Day within sight, it is time for some bold predictions for the upcoming 2011 Baltimore Orioles.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will focus on almost every potential member of Baltimore's 25-man roster.
1. Brian Roberts, 2B
It is almost hard to believe that 10 years ago, Brian Roberts, a small shortstop from North Carolina, emerged to become Baltimore’s future second baseman and longest tenured Oriole in the organization.
During his 10 years with the Orioles, Roberts has never experienced the playoffs, let alone a winning season.
With the start of the 2011 on the horizon, Roberts will be more valuable to Baltimore’s lineup more than ever. Last year did not get off to how the second baseman had hoped.
Roberts re-injured his back, which kept him sidelined for almost the entire Spring Training, and he did not return to the Orioles until late July.
Baltimore tried countless experiments to fill their leadoff void that had been secured for the past eight years for the Orioles, yet none were able to pan out. After returning from the DL, Roberts hit .278/.354/.391.
Roberts helped anchor the front side of the lineup outside of Nick Markakis and Luke Scott, was unable to produce consistently.
Roberts, along with new manager Buck Showalter and a refocused starting rotation, was a key factor in the Orioles turning around the second half for Baltimore.
The second baseman has stated that he is finally healthy and is ready to help lead the Orioles in 2011, according to Dan Connelly of The Baltimore Sun.
Although Baltimore’s recent offseason moves have made the Orioles better than last season, the fate of the 2011 Orioles will lie upon their leadoff hitter.
Roberts not only brings with him a good glove at second, but he is also one of the better doubles hitters in the league.
Roberts has twice led the league in doubles (2004 with 50 and 2009 with 56) and a healthy Roberts will set up more RBI opportunities for Nick Markakis.
If Roberts is able to stay healthy in 2011, there is no reason to doubt more runs from the revamped Orioles lineup.
Prediction: .279 AVG, 13 HR, 48 doubles, 28 SB
On Deck: Nick Markakis
In the Hole: Derrek Lee
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