Spring is a time for optimism, and that even extends to Orioles fans. Once the season starts a lot of you turn immediately to doom and gloom (you know who you are), but the answers to Camden Chat’s annual pre-season contest show a sunnier outlook.
In case you missed it, last week I posed 25 questions to you all in the form of our yearly pre-season contest. The form was broken up into a few different categories, but no matter what the type, if there was a chance for optimism in the answer, the 243 of you who answered took it. (You can’t look at the questions at the above link as the form is closed, but I’ll take care of you in this post, don’t worry).
Which will be higher?
Questions 1-10 of our contest provided two alternatives and it was your mission to choose which scenario would result in a higher return by the end of the season. In this section there were a few places where your optimism shone through.
- Strikeouts by Kevin Gausman or by Mark Trumbo? You all overwhelmingly picked Gausman to have more strikeouts in what we all hope will be a breakout year. Whether your answer was inspired by a belief that Gausman will be better than ever or that Trumbo will strike out less than ever, you are hopeful for the best. 78.2% of you picked Gausman to win this one.
- Orioles wins or Blue Jays wins? Most people around baseball expect the Blue Jays to be better than the Orioles this season. Basically everyone, except for you crazy kids in your orange-tinted glasses. 77.4% of you believe that the Orioles will end the season with more wins than their rivals to the north.
- Caught Stealing % by Welington Castillo or Matt Wieters? Despite years of loyalty to the arm of Matt Wieters, 67.1% of you picked Castillo to have a better CS% in 2017. That’s despite Castillo having a lower career number.
- Games with >40K or <15K attendance? Some members of the media and the fanbase really roasted the Orioles fans for not coming out to support their team last year during a playoff chase. But 70.4% of you still think there will more games with over 40,000 fans. I really hope you’re right because I don’t want to listen to those same people complaining again this year.
Other questions/responses in this section:
- Starts by Dylan Bundy or walks by Jonathan Schoop? (Schoop - 56.8%)
- Saves by Zach Britton or HR by 2017 O’s HR leader? (HR leader - 57.2%)
- Starts by Mike Wright or Tyler Wilson? (Wilson - 65%)
- Hyun Soo Kim PA vs LHP or Caleb Joseph RBI (Kim - 70%)
- ERA by Wade Miley or Ubaldo Jimenez (Jimenez - 53.1%)
- Questions right in this contest by Mark or Stacey (Stacey - 57.6%)
While the questions in the first section skewed positive (if there was a positive answer to be given), things were a bit more mixed here. I wouldn’t say there was overwhelming negativity when I asked if Chris Tillman would make at least 20 starts, but the fact that 55.6% of you think he won’t shows that we are kind of worried about our veteran pitcher.
- Wins: 84.5 A whopping 82.3% of you chose the over on this stat. It’s like you didn’t even read any of the pre-season predictions for win total or standings in the A.L. East. Or maybe you just remembered that the Orioles tend to overperform those projections. Whatever the case, you’re ready for another winning season of Orioles baseball.
- Chris Davis HR: 40.5 You guys, it is really difficult to hit over 40 dingers. You know that, right? Since 2013 when Davis first did it, it has only been done 15 times in all of major league baseball. Only three guys have done it more than once. Of course, one of them is Davis so there is that. 73.7% of you think Davis will hit more than 40 home runs this season.
- Dylan Bundy IP: 150.5 If you assume an average of six innings pitched per start, 150 innings is 25 starts. So the 69.1% of you who said that Bundy would pitch more than that are banking on him having pretty much a full season under his belt by the time that 2017 ends. Bundy has struggled with injury most of his professional career until last season when he logged only 109 2⁄3 innings and clearly lost steam at the end of the season.
Negative alert! When asked how many All Stars the Orioles will have, you all took a break from the norm and predicted it would be under 3.5. 65.4% of you believe that, actually. Since 2012 the Orioles have sent three men to the All-Star Game twice, four once, and five twice.
Who will be the first...
This section doesn’t really provide any context to my point that y’all are some optimistic sons of bitches, but it’s worth looking at the answers anyway. There are a lot of possible answers so I’ll give you the top three.
- Oriole to hit a home run? (Machado - 35.4%, Jones - 25.9%, Davis - 11.1%) The actual winner was Mark Trumbo, who came in fifth place with 6.2% of the vote.
- Oriole to pitch a complete game? (Gausman - 58.4%, The Orioles will not pitch a complete game - 21.4%, Bundy - 6.6%). Really not many choices for this one!
- Minor leaguer called up? (Mancini - 15.2%, P. Alvarez - 10.6%, Chris Lee/Gabriel Ynoa - 10.3%) The smart money here was to pick someone who qualifies to be the fifth starter when the Orioles need him, and that’s what most of you did. Lee + Ynoa + Jayson Aquino + Mike Wright + Tyler Wilson = 48.9% of the vote.
- Team the Orioles sweep? (Blue Jays - 33.3%, Rays - 18.9%, Reds - 9.9%) The most popular pick every year is the first team the Orioles play. And what do you know, they did it again! With a 3-1 win last night the Orioles have swept the Blue Jays.
- Team that sweeps the Orioles? (Red Sox - 46.9%, Blue Jays - 20.6%, The O’s won’t be swept this year - 7.4%). You know what? I’m gonna chalk that third place answer up to optimism!
Which Oriole will...
- Have the most innings pitched? (Gausman - 95.1%) By far the largest margin of any question. Not many others to choose from, sadly.
- Have the highest OBP? (Kim - 49.8%, Machado - 38.7%, Davis - 5.3%) Looks to be a two-man race in this one.
- Lead the team in ERA as a starter (min 10 starts)? (Gausman - 62.6%, Bundy - 25.5%, Tillman - 10.7%)
- Have the most appearances out of the bullpen? (Darren O’Day - 30%, Brad Brach - 28.8%, Britton - 22.6%, Mychal Givens - 14.8) Pretty evenly split between the big three with a respectable showing by Givens. Seven people picked Donnie Hart, which could be an inspired pick.
- Lead the team in RBI? (Machado - 58.4%, Davis - 25.1%, Trumbo - 12.3%)
Ultimately there isn’t much to conclude from this entire thing aside from the fact that Orioles fans are just as optimistic as fans of any team before the season starts. I just want you to remember that as we go through another season. If, heaven forbid, the Orioles start playing poorly this year and you are tempted to claim that you knew it all along, remember the answers to this pre-season contest.