Baltimore Orioles: Predicting Their 2012 Opening Day Lineup

Corey HanleyContributor IIISeptember 19, 2011

Baltimore Orioles: Predicting Their 2012 Opening Day Lineup

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    Last week, I took a look at what the Orioles' starting rotation and bullpen might look like in 2012. This week, it's time to take a look at what the lineup might look like when the Orioles host the Twins on April 6.

    There won't be many changes from the 2011 Opening Day lineup.

    Some obvious differences will include the loss of Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero. Another player that could be left off in 2012 is Luke Scott, who is the most likely non-tender candidate on the team.

    I would say positionally, everything will stay the same except at first and third base, left field, and the designated hitter spot. As for the order, some people may be in entirely new spots.

    Here is the projected 2012 lineup for the Baltimore Orioles.

Brian Roberts: 2B

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    Wouldn't it be great if the Orioles got back their lead-off?

    Roberts had been their best base stealer and offensive spark up until a series of unfortunate injuries ruined his 2010 and 2011 seasons. His status is unclear for the future, as he hasn't played since May 16 due to a concussion.

    It's gotten to the point where Roberts' career is in doubt, because he has missed significant time for two consecutive seasons due to concussions.

    For now, I'm going to assume Roberts' year of recovery will be enough to get back, but things could easily change. The Orioles will probably try to add a backup this offseason, but I'd say Roberts is in line to be ready for Opening Day.

Nick Markakis: RF

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    Nick Markakis has moved around the lineup a lot this year, but he seemed very comfortable batting between J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones at the beginning of the year.

    Despite a bit of regression, Markakis has been one of the most consistent players in the lineup this year. He is entering his prime—he'll be 28 at the beginning of 2012—so I would look for big things from him next year.

Adam Jones: CF

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    Adam Jones is on the verge of breaking out as one of the game's next stars, and his placement in the 2012 Opening Day lineup should prove it.

    Jones has progressed a lot in 2011. He has already set new career highs in home runs, RBIs and steals. Jones now just needs to work on patience and on finishing a season.

    The young center fielder is still growing, but he's becoming similar to his role model, Torii Hunter. That said, a repeat of his 2011 performance would be just fine.

Matt Wieters: C

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    Matt Wieters has had a ton of improvement in 2011 and has emerged as one of the best catchers in the American League.

    Wieters will almost certainly take home his first Gold Glove and already made his first All-Star Game in 2011. The reason he will move up in the order is his terrific average with runners in scoring position (.330), which may have him supplanting Vladimir Guerrero in the cleanup spot.

Mark Reynolds: 1B

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    Mark Reynolds has brought unbelievable power to what had been a lineup starving for power, but his defense and strikeouts made him tough to watch.

    His move across the diamond has changed the face of the defense and showed that Reynolds is a pretty great athlete. However, his lack of throwing accuracy detracted from his great range, but he'll still have the chance to pick it like Teixeira in 2012.

    For those hoping for Prince Fielder, I wouldn't set my hopes that high.

Luke Scott: DH

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    As much as I think that Luke Scott might get non-tendered, I don't think the Orioles could find a cheaper, better option in left field or at DH.

    Ryan Ludwick seems to be the most attractive candidate, but he is more expensive and would likely expect multiple years.

    Scott is coming off a horrible season offensively, made worse by a torn labrum and season-ending surgery. He is making $6.4 million this year and is likely to get a raise in arbitration, so it seems as if the Orioles might want to avoid tendering a contract.

    I think the Orioles could potentially non-tender Scott and sign him to a cheaper deal.

    If Scott returns at full strength and not in the outfield, he could be a really big upgrade in 2012. He was the 2010 Most Valuable Oriole, so his impact on the franchise is clearly large. With Scott back in the lineup, the Orioles could have a fifth 20-home run-hitter in addition to Jones, Reynolds, Hardy, and Wieters.

J.J. Hardy: SS

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    J.J. Hardy has had a terrific comeback in 2011 and has emerged as one of the best power hitting shortstops in the majors.

    He was batting lead-off before September and was great in that role, but he deserves to move down in the lineup. Hardy's 20-30 home run potential would do wonders for the bottom of the Orioles' lineup,

Chris Davis: 3B

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    Chris Davis had a ton of chances to become a powerful corner infielder in his years in Texas, but he underperformed and got dealt to Baltimore, where he hasn't shown much growth.

    Davis is dealing with shoulder injuries, so his numbers may be a little worse than usual, but he could have an extended opportunity for the Orioles thanks to the low pressure situation of being on a bad team.

Nolan Reimold: LF

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    Nolan Reimold has struggled to return to form after surgery ended his spectacular rookie season, but he has the potential to be a five-tool threat.

    His greatest qualities are speed and power, but he needs to show them more consistently. It's a little known fact that Reimold has one of the top times from home to first for a right handed hitter.

    With another year to get stronger, he has a chance to sneak up as a breakout player to round out a terrific Orioles outfield.