The Orioles were not picked by many to win the AL East this year. In fact, a majority of “experts” picked the team to finish with a losing record. In a perfect world, the quotation marks around the word “expert” would represent a sarcastic tone that cast doubt on these men and women’s baseball knowledge. The Orioles would have proven the projections wrong once again, and thumbed their noses as they waltzed into the playoffs. That didn’t happen.
Instead, the only reasons those “experts” should be questioned is because they failed to predict just how bad the Orioles would be in 2018. But to be fair, who could have seen this coming?
Think back to the off season. How did you think Baltimore would fare this year? Maybe you were optimistic about a wild card run, maybe you hoped they could stay above .500, or maybe you saw this catastrophe coming a mile away. Regardless, it takes a special team to fail this many times at this many things.
Last winter was the first in several years that I was genuinely concerned about the Orioles. I had not accepted their fate quite yet, but I didn’t have a good feeling. Sure, I was looking at the Orioles pitching staff with a glass-half-full mentality, but that’s because they literally only had half of a pitching staff.
The only thing I wasn’t worried about was the offense. With the benefit of hindsight, I should have been in full panic mode. In my defense, how could a team with Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop and Adam Jones in the heart of the lineup not score some runs?
Chris Davis batting lead off probably should have given me some pause (remember that?), and Pedro Alvarez getting the nod on Opening Day probably wasn’t the best sign. Still, the Orioles appeared to have enough fire power to balance out Craig Gentry and Caleb Joseph at the bottom of the lineup. That didn’t happen.
Machado, traded July 18, still leads the Orioles in several offensive categories. Trey Mancini, who struggled early on before turning it on in the second half, still trails Machado by one home run at 23. At 58, Adam Jones trails Manny in RBIs by seven, and he may not get the playing time to catch him before the season’s end. Davis has watched ball four go by 40 times, but that’s still second to Machado’s 45 bases on balls.
Machado, Schoop and likely Jones will all be gone next year. The reasons for optimism are gone, and the glass-half-empty mindset has never come easier. Chris Davis likely won’t be atop the order, but he’ll still be on the team. While the organization desperately hopes for a career resurgence, it’s more difficult than ever to expect that to actually come to fruition.
Tim Beckham didn’t come close to his impressive second half after coming over from Tampa Bay at the trade deadline a year ago. Switching between third base, short and DH, Beckham has hit .223 with only 10 home runs. Neither Joseph or rookie Chance Sisco provided the Orioles any reason to expect offense from behind the plate.
There are a few guys that will be fun to watch. Cedric Mullins has looked like a capable lead off hitter during his time in Baltimore. Mullins has hit .269 and gotten on base at a .351 clip. The speed is there, and he’ll likely swipe a few bases.
Mark Trumbo hit .284 in the second half before ending his season on the disabled list. The guy isn’t going to hit 47 round-trippers, but he could be one of the only Baltimore players providing significant power in the heart of the Orioles lineup.
Mancini has been one of the only bright spots for Baltimore in this second half. If his .275 average and 11 home runs in only 53 second half games are any indication, Mancini may be the only Bird inspiring fear in the opposing pitcher.
The Orioles won’t be making a big splash in free agency this off season. They may sign a few guys to one-year deals that they could potentially flip at the deadline. They also still need to field a team, even in a rebuild.
Prospects will make their way to Baltimore eventually, but the players that break camp with the team won’t generate a lot of buzz. Are you feeling some type of way about the team’s offensive out look in 2019? Is there any specific moves you’d like to see made this offseason? Let us know in the comments below.