The Baltimore Orioles were off to a hot start in the 2011 season but have since cooled down a bit; now, in the middle of May, the Orioles are in last place in the American League East and are two games below 500.
With that said, as the title says, let's try and look into the future and make some bold (and in some cases, very, very bold) predictions for the rest of the 2011 season for the Baltimore Orioles.
Prediction: Matt Wieters will live up to expectations that were created when he first came into the league.
Matt Wieters struggled last season, but in 2011, I think we can expect to see Wieters produce much better than he did in 2010.
In the second half of the 2010 season, we saw Wieters make more contact and hit with more power, so that's something that may be a sign of moving on from the "sophomore slump."
Wieters is still very young, only 24, but 2011 will be his breakout season as he puts his name among the list of best catchers in baseball.
Prediction: Jeremy Guthrie becomes a bona fide ace.
At 32, Guthrie is moving past his prime but, with all the promise the Orioles have in the 2011 season, one bold prediction we can make is that Guthrie leads the young Orioles rotation.
Guthrie can put up good numbers, but he never seems to get the run support to get him wins. With the addition of some big bats and the development of younger players, 2011 will be a year to remember for Guthrie.
Expect to see a lot of wins coupled with a low ERA and WHIP.
Prediction: Zach Britton wins the Rookie of the Year Award.
The young left-hander, Zach Britton, has certainly started the 2011 season in an impressive fashion; he's 5-2 with a 2.42 ERA and a 1.019 WHIP.
One of the reasons the Orioles had such a strong start in the first two weeks of the season was because of their starting pitching, and Zach Britton was a big part of that.
We're only in the middle of May, but if Britton continues to pitch this way, he will not only be winning the Rookie of the Year, but he may be winning the Cy Young as well.
Prediction: Joe Mahoney gets called up to the majors in 2011.
This is one of the boldest predictions because Mahoney is struggling in Double-A right now and his position, first base, is blocked by Derrek Lee.
Mahoney is a big prospect for the Orioles and many expect him to be the team's first baseman next season when Lee's one-year contract is finished. However, if the team is needing some extra batting power later in the season, we may see Mahoney in the majors before 2012.
Prediction: Adam Jones wins the Gold Glove
Adam Jones is another young star in the making for the Baltimore Orioles. He's a player that will probably be doing some incredible things throughout his career.
Given the speed of Jones, he's able to track down a lot of baseballs hit in his direction (something his pitchers appreciate very much).
He's young, but he's only getting better each day. The more experience he gets the better he becomes at reading the baseball when it's hit off the bat. Couple this skill getting better with his speed and you have a Gold Glove winner.
Prediction: Justin Duchsherer pitches and dominates upon his return in the 2011 season.
It's been a long time since Justin Duchsherer has pitched in a major league game, but he's currently rehabbing with a minor league team within the Orioles organization and plans on pitching for the Orioles later this season.
If Duchsherer can be even a shadow of his former self, it'll be a huge addition to the Orioles pitching. We see it all the time—pitchers come back from a major surgery and are never the same—but there are also example where they come back and are just as good as they were pre-surgery.
I'm expecting the latter from Duchsherer.
Prediction: Brian Roberts steals 40-plus bases in 2011.
Brian Roberts is always a threat to steal bases, but because he has struggled to stay healthy, his number of stolen bases has obviously gone down.
With a potent offensive lineup and an ability to stay healthy in 2011, Roberts is going to be getting the green light a lot this year.
Since Roberts has shown he still has a lot of life in his legs, stealing the 40-plus bases is a prediction that has a lot of potential.
Prediction: Mark Reynolds strikes out less than 150 times.
Mark Reynolds has four years of MLB service under his belt and in three of them he's struck out at least 200 times.
Reynolds is very well known for possessing a lot of power, but for swinging and missing a lot as well.
However, with a lot of support around him in 2011, I believe a bold prediction is that he will strike out significantly less than he has in the past few years. That said, he has already struck out 41 times...but here's hoping to a change!
Prediction: J.J. Hardy gets 500 PA in 2011.
Not since 2008 has J.J. Hardy been able to reach 500 plate appearances. Hardy has been injured a lot, and it's not only hurt his ability to stay on the field, but it's also hurt his performance when he is actually playing.
There's not much to back this prediction up (thus it is a bold prediction), but he's in a contract year and perhaps he'll be able to get 500 PA.
Prediction: The Baltimore Orioles win the AL East.
Okay, so the Orioles are in last place and are two games under .500, but the season is young and there is plenty of time to turn things around.
Yes, the AL East is a tough division, but if the Orioles offense gets back on track and the pitching keeps them in games, they'll be a tough team to beat.
It's a bold prediction, but hey, that's what this was all about!