Tigers Get Price in 3-Team Deal

Grading Every Deadline Trade

Baltimore Orioles: 2011 MLB Season Preview

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse more stories
Baltimore Orioles: 2011 MLB Season Preview
J. Meric/Getty Images
Mark Reynolds

BALTIMORE ORIOLES 

Last year: 66-96, 5th place in AL East 

Manager: Buck Showalter 

PROJECTED LINEUP: 

C- Matt Wieters (S)

1B- Derrek Lee (R)

2B- Brian Roberts (S) 

3B- Mark Reynolds (R)

SS- JJ Hardy (R)

LF- Luke Scott (L) 

CF- Adam Jones (R) 

RF- Nick Markakis (L)

DH- Vladimir Guerrero (R)

The lineup struggled in the first half of 2010 without leadoff man Brian Roberts. When Showalter took over and Roberts returned, the lineup took off. If Roberts is healthy, he should hit .285/.355/.420 with 10 home runs and 25 stolen bases.

Derek Lee struggled in 2010, posting his lowest isolated power numbers in years. I think he will have a rebound year hitting in Camden Yards and should post a .280/.365/.490 line, with 25 or so home runs.

Will the Orioles finish last in the AL East?

Submit Vote vote to see results

Mark Reynolds will strikeout almost 40 percent of the time, but he has the ability to hit 45 home runs every season. He does get on base, but his average will always be a problem because of his record setting ability to strikeout. I see a .230/.330/.490 line, with 35-40 home runs and 10 stolen bases.

JJ Hardy is a significant offensive upgrade over Izturis. He should hit 15 home runs, with a .255/.320/.420 line.

Matt Wieters struggled with the bat in his first full season. He has too much talent not to improve this season, and I think he should hit 15-20 home runs, with a .280/.350/.430 line.

Vladimir Guerrero had a great start to the 2010 season, but he seemed to fade over the last few months of the season. Guerrero will hit in another hitter's ballpark this season, and he should be able to reach the 25 home run mark, with a .290/.340/.485 line.

Nick Markakis was another Orioles hitter who under performed in 2010. He should bat in the number two spot in the lineup, where he will hit 15-20 home runs and posting what should be an impressive .300/.375/.465 line.

Adam Jones should improve with another full season under his belt. He will hit 20 home runs but he needs to cut down on strikeouts and improve his three percent walk rate. 

Luke Scott was the club's most productive hitter last season. He's a safe bet to hit 25-30 home runs with a .260/.345/.480 line. 

The Orioles ranked 21st in UZR rating last season. This season may be worse with Scott playing the outfield on a regular basis. The outfield defense is one if the worst in the league.

Luke Scott is a liability in LF, and should not play there on a regular basis.

Based on 2010 UZR, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis are below average in the OF.

Wieters is one of the best defensive catchers in the game. He has a great arm, and is one of the best at blocking pitches in the dirt. T

he infield defense will be improved with the addition of Reynolds, Hardy, and Lee. Reynolds is above average, and Hardy was one of the top five shortstops in terms of UZR. Lee is still above average at 1B.  

BENCH

IF- Robert Andino (R)

IF- Cesar Izturis (S)

OF- Felix Pie (L)

C/1B/3B- Jake Fox(R) 

ROTATION 

Greg Fiume/Getty Images

RHP- Jeremy Guthrie 

LHP- Brian Matusz

RHP- Brad Bergersen  

RHP- Jake Arrieta

RHP- Chris Tillman  

The biggest weakness of Orioles team is their starting rotation. It will be hit hard in the very competitive AL East.

Guthrie and Matusz pitched well in the second half of the year, but Guthrie is not a number one type of starter. Guthrie throws a good two-seamer and four-seamer, along with a good slider, decent changeup and occasional curveball. He should throw 200 innings with a 4.10 ERA and a peripherals of 5.50 K/9 and 2.50 BB/9. Matusz is featured later in the piece.  

Brad Bergensen features a 90 MPH sinking fastball with a decent curveball and change. He had trouble locating his sinker early in 2010, but improved in the second half. He should only have a strikeout rate of 4-5 K/9 but his walk rate will be 2 BB/9. I think he will bounce back and pitch at a 4.30 ERA.

Jake Arrieta has good stuff as the number four starter.  He does average 92.7 MPH, but only averaged 4.6 K/9 and walked 4 per 9. If he can get that strikeout rate to his minor league levels (7 K/9), he could pitch at a 4.40 ERA.

Chris Tillman will fill out the last spot of the rotation. He has struggled in his stints in the major because of his below average strikeout and walk rates. His average velocity dropped two mph, and I am not sure he will be able to keep his spot. If Justin Duchsherer is healthy, he might take the spot.   

Greg Fiume/Getty Images

BULLPEN 

RHP- Kevin Gregg (closer not named)

RHP- Koji Uehara 

LHP- Mike Gonzalez 

RHP- Jim Johnson 

RHP- Jason Berken 

RHP- Jeremy Accardo

RHP- Josh Rupe 

The Orioles bullpen will be improved this year. It has some good depth, but Showalter has yet to name an official closer. Gregg has a good repertoire (92 MPH fastball, cutter, splitter and slider) but he gives up too many home run and his control is iffy. If Gregg struggles, Uehara and Gonazlez might some save opportunities.

Uehara pitched well in the closer role during the second half of the season, posting a 2.86 ERA. ( xFIP was 2.91) He averages 88 mph on his fastball, but he has a good splitter and great command of both pitches. He should only strike out six or seven per nine innings. 

Gonzalez was signed to be the closer last year, but I think he is better suited as a left-handed set-up guy who can get right and left handed batters out. He features a 92-94 MPH fastball and very good slider.

Jim Johnson has a reliable arm, who uses a power sinker to neutralize opponents. He has been the most impressive reliever in spring training, and he could get some save opportunities.

Berken provides a solid arm as a the Orioles swing man. His stuff is better suited in the bullpen and he should have a strikeout rate close to 7 K/9.

I am interested in seeing Jeremy Accardo, the Blue Jays former closer in 2007. He has always had a good stuff, featuring a low 90s fastball, good splitter, and cutter.  

 

BREAKOUT PLAYER- Brian Matusz

I was impressed with him in his starts I watched last year. His control was a little higher than his career mark at around 3.2 BB/9 innings. Expect him to get that down to the 2.5 mark. With his good strikeout numbers, I think he might finish the year with a 3.70 era (around 3.8 FIP). While he doesn't have an overpowering fastball, but he hides the ball well and compliments it with a good curve and change-up. 

PROSPECT TO WATCH- LHP- Zach Britton 

Britton is the Orioles top pitching prospect. He was a third round draft pick in 2006, and has worked his way up to AAA last year. He is an extreme ground ball pitcher (64 percent) and recorded 7.6 K/9 innings last year. I expect him to make the rotation sometime in July, especially if there are injuries and if Arrieta or Chris Tillman (sixth starter on depth chart) struggle. 

PROJECTED FINISH- 4th in AL East 

I expect the Orioles to improve over last year, and I think the offense will keep the team in games. The starting pitching is still has problems, but I like what the club has done with the bullpen. I have a feeling they will finish a game or two better than Toronto and finish fourth. 

Load More Stories

Follow Baltimore Orioles from B/R on Facebook

Follow Baltimore Orioles from B/R on Facebook and get the latest updates straight to your newsfeed!

Baltimore Orioles

Subscribe Now

We will never share your email address

Thanks for signing up.