The winner of this year's Camden Chat pre-season contest is alexw! Alex was the only player to get 18 of the 25 questions correct. Well done! May you lord your success over all other Camden Chatters until this time next year when a new winner is crowned.
To see your results, check out the final spreadsheet. It's ranked by score, so you'll have to CTRL-F to quickly find your name. For the full answers and fun facts, see the rest of this post. The pre-season contest is always a highlight of my season, so thanks to the 279 people who participated.
Which will be higher?
1. Games played by Ryan Flaherty or Jonathan Schoop at 2B? Schoop - 123, Flaherty - 80
The predictions were wrong on this one, as many of us were high on Flaherty (for reasons I can't quite recall) before the season started. But Schoop won the job out of spring training, and good or bad, the position was his for most of the season. Only 98 people out of 279 picked Schoop as the winner.
2. Orioles wins or Yankees wins? Orioles - 96, Yankees - 84
The optimists had this one right, with a whopping 90% correctly choosing the Orioles. Your fearless leader, Mark Brown, picked the Yankees. Boo!
3. Adam Jones strikeouts or Chris Davis RBI? Jones Ks - 133, Davis RBI - 72
The majority of you picked correctly as 69% though that Jones would have more strikeouts than Davis would have RBI. I think that was definitely the safer bet, but I didn't think it would be such a big difference.
4. Games started by Bud Norris or Kevin Gausman? Norris - 28, Gausman - 20
The pre-season thought was that, at some point, Kevin Gausman was going to be ready to start in the big leagues. And when he did, one of the current members of the rotation would have to go. Before the season it felt like Norris could be the one to go, but his new found ability to get lefties out combined with Ubaldo Jimenez being a complete disaster kept him in the rotation all year long. This one was pretty even in the predictions, with 146 choosing Bud and 133 going with Goose.
5. Games played by Nolan Reimold or Delmon Young? Young - 83, Reimold - 0 with O's, 29 overall
Most of us got this one wrong, with 202 guessing that Nolan would play more games than Delmon Young. We've always been high on Reimold here, and Young wasn't even a sure bet to make the team out of spring training. But Young turned out to be pretty helpful as bench player while Reimold was released by the Orioles, signed and later released by the Blue Jays, and is now with the Arizona Diamondback.
6. Saves by Orioles pitcher or Jim Johnson? O's pitchers - 53, JJ - 2
Ouch. Jim Johnson saved at least 50 games in both 2012 and 2013 for the Orioles, but was just miserable this season. He lost his closing gig early in the season in Oakland, was later released, and is now with the Tigers (you think he'll make their postseason roster?). Meanwhile failed starter Zach Britton flourished as the O's new shutdown man, picking up 37 saves. Tommy Hunter had 11 of his own before his demotion, while Darren O'Day picked up four and Andrew Miller got one. You all guessed this one correctly. 222 people said that the O's would have more saves; only 57 thought it would be Johnson.
7. Nelson Cruz games at DH or in the field? DH - 89, Field - 70
Before coming to Baltimore, Nelson Cruz hadn't done much DH'ing. But nearly everyone (89%) thought he'd mainly DH, and they were right. It was actually about 50/50 through most of the season before the Orioles traded for Alejandro De Aza. After De Aza was picked up on August 30th, Cruz made just four more starts in the outfield.
8. Nick Markakis doubles or Orioles pitchers used? Markakis 2B - 26, # of pitchers - 20
Nick used to be something of a doubles hitter, but he's had less than 30 in each of the past three seasons. As for the pitchers, even with Dan Duquette's love of roster shuffling, they only used 20 total. That's a credit to the starting rotation, which only used seven pitchers all year (with one, T.J. McFarland, making just one spot start). That's the lowest number since 2005, when they also used 20. Last time using less than 20 pitchers in a season? 1997.
9. Team OPS (no decimal) or team runs scored? OPS - 734, Runs scored - 705
In 2013 the Orioles scored 745 runs with an OPS of .744, which is what inspired me to choose this question. It's kind of hard to predict, with 117 of you choosing OPS and 162 runs.
10. Answers correct in this contest, Mark or Stacey? Stacey 10, Mark 8
You put your faith in me and I prevailed! 65% thought that I'd get the most answers correct in this contest. You love me, you really do! Note that neither one of us even came close to first place.
11. Orioles wins: 80.5 OVER - 96
Almost every single one of you picked the over on this one (275 to 4). It's no wonder, that was a super easy question. Imagine the Orioles had one fewer than 81 games this year? But that was the Vegas betting line on the team when the contest came out.
12. Yankees wins: 86.5 UNDER - 84
Again, this was the Vegas line. Hopefully the casinos took a lot of money from a lot of Yankees fans on this one. You all weren't fooled; 80% picked under.
13. Chris Davis home runs: 42.5 UNDER - 26
I picked this number when I was still on a Chris Davis high from last year. The majority weren't quite so high on him, with 55% correctly picking the under. I'm guessing when you selected under, though, you probably weren't imagining only 26. Chris Davis made me sad this season.
14. Chris Tillman innings pitched: 199.5 OVER - 207.1
For the second straight year, Tillman has topped the 200 IP mark. And in three days he'll be the starting pitcher for game one of the ALDS. 63% of you were confident that he'd get there.
15. Tommy Hunter saves: 24.5 UNDER - 11
Tommy went boom and couldn't keep a grip on the closer role, losing it to Zach Britton in mid-May. But it wasn't all bad for Tommy; after he moved to a different role in the bullpen and spent some time getting healthy on the DL, he came back to be a very good pitcher for the Orioles for the rest of the year.
Who will be the first...
16. Oriole to hit a home run? Nelson Cruz - Opening Day
This one is pretty much pure luck, but it seems appropriate that the MLB leader in home runs for the season won. 58 people picked Nelson Cruz which was the third-most after Chris Davis (67) and J.J. Hardy (59). Four people actually picked Nolan Reimold, which I can only assume was sarcasm. Or maybe those four people were driving home from a baseball game in 2009 and got into a car accident that put them all into comas that they woke up from in March 2014.
17. Oriole to pitch a complete game? Chris Tillman - 5/16 vs. KCR
Chris Tillman was the first of three Orioles to pitch a complete game in 2014. His was a complete game shutout in which he allowed five hits and one walk. The other two complete games were from Kevin Gausman, who lucked his way into a CG when a rain delay after five innings turned into a shortened O's win, and Miguel Gonzalez, whose shutout of the Reds was the highest ranked start of the season for the O's using Game Score. Tillman got 109 picks in this question, the most of any player. The second most was Ubaldo Jimenez with 107. Ah, we were so innocent back then.
18. Minor leaguer called up? T.J. McFarland - 4/22
The Orioles DFA'd Steve Pearce to call up McFarland on April 22nd. Man, that really could have backfired on them. TJ lasted all of four days in his call up and made two appearances before being sent back down for Jemile Weeks. McFarland wasn't a choice in the question, so the 75 of you who picked Other got credit.
19. Team the Orioles sweep? Rays - April 14-16
Some people didn't like this choice because one of the games was rained out, but it was a sweep whether you picked the Rays or not. The most common answer was the Blue Jays, with 84. One Negative Ned said they wouldn't sweep anyone.
20. Team that sweeps the Orioles? Tigers - May 12-14
The Orioles were only swept twice this entire season, which is pretty impressive in my opinion. The other one came at the hands of the Cubs, which I don't want to talk about. 24 people picked the Tigers, third to the Rays (84) and Red Sox (62).
Who will lead the Orioles in...
21. Innings pitched? Chris Tillman - 207.1
Tillman was the favorite in this category with 152 votes, and Jimenez was second-most popular with 112. Nine people voted for Wei-Yin Chen, which is cute, and one person voted for Suk-Min Yoon, which is perplexing.
22. Walks? Nick Markakis - 62
Chris Davis led this category for most of the season. When his season ended on September 10th, he had four more walks than Markakis. Nick finished out the season in fine form and picked up six walks over his final 11 games to take the lead.
23. Bullpen appearances? Zach Britton - 71
This was the only question in the contest that zero people answered correctly. I don't blame any of you; who could have predicted the emergence of Zach Britton? The vast majority (191/279) picked Darren O'Day, who came in second on the team with 68 games. Nine people did pick Other, but that doesn't count in this case as Britton was one of the choices on the list.
24. Hits? Adam Jones - 181
Jones and Markakis were neck-and-neck for this one for most of the season, but ultimately AJ won by four. He was the most popular choice among you all with 50% of the vote.
25. Slugging Percentage (Qualified)? Nelson Cruz - .525
To be qualified for rate stats in the majors, a player needs to accumulate 3.1 plate appearances for each team game played. That's usually about 125 games as a full-time player. Only five Orioles this year had enough plate appearances to qualify: Markakis, Jones, Hardy, Cruz, and Davis. Of all 279 ballots, those four minus Hardy got all of the votes. 91% went to Davis (sigh), but 12 folks went with the new guy. If the qualification had been 100 games played, your winner would have been Steve Pearce with .566.