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Orioles breakout candidates for the second half

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After John Means and Trey Mancini stole the show in the first half, who could emerge as a break out player in the second half of Baltimore’s season?

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

With the first half of the season in the books, the Orioles are where, well, where we thought they would be. The record is ugly, and the play on the field has often reflected that record. No one should be surprised by Baltimore’s struggles, and even those that were have likely readjusted any expectations by now.

All of that being said, there’s been a few surprises this season. Trey Mancini has developed into a legitimate offensive weapon, and anyone that predicted John Means to be the Orioles only All Star should probably head to Vegas right now...

There’s been disappointments too. Mychal Givens, Richard Bleier and Miguel Castro certainly won’t fetch what some hoped at the trade deadline, and Cedric Mullins didn’t stick in center field. Mark Trumbo has yet to return, and Alex Cobb found himself sidelined with another injury.

Still, Means and Mancini, paired with Renato Núñez’s power and Hanser Alberto’s batting average, have at least provided Orioles fans a few distractions. Looking ahead to the second half, is there another breakout player lurking on the roster?

One of the first surprises of the Mike Elias/Brandon Hyde era was Chance Sisco not making the team out of spring training. The Orioles elected to give Sisco more seasoning time, and the move appears to have paid off. The 24-year-old arrived in Baltimore on June 5, and all he’s done since then is slash .283/.394/.667.

The slugging percentage certainly stands out. Sisco has six homers in 19 games, which averages out to a blast every 10 at bats. He may not perfectly resemble Vlad Jr. in this year’s home run derby, but the power is an uptick from his two shots in 63 games last year.

While Orioles fans spent the last month dreaming of Adley Rutschman, Sisco has given them something to watch right now. His offensive surge in the last month quickly found him in the heart of the order, but I’m not sure we can say he really “broke out.” If Sisco can prove his strong June was no fluke, he’ll be included with Mancini and Means as stars of the season.

While Sisco could produce at an All Star level, for some players “breaking out” will simply represent improving above league average. Rio Ruiz hit only .235 in 79 games (61 starts), and managed only five home runs in 238 at bats. Ruiz held his own offensively, and his .307 on-base percentage sits well above his batting average.

In the Orioles 9-6 victory against the Rays a week ago, Ruiz blasted a three-run home run in one at bat, and delivered a perfect sacrifice bunt later in the game. The bunt led to another run scored, and Ruiz played a large role in the three-run victory. The guy is a baseball player, and at just 25-years-old, he’s getting his first true opportunity to play Major League baseball everyday.

In the final eight games of the first half, Ruiz slashed .375/.423/.542. It’s undoubtedly a small sample size, but the infielder entered the break on a high note. This year is all about guy’s like Ruiz. He’ll have the opportunity to cut out a future role in the organization during the final three months.

Nobody better epitomizes the state of the Orioles this year than Richie Martin. The Orioles did not have anyone better to start at the most important position than a Rule-5 selection. Martin has not hit, but the Orioles have been able to keep him on the roster because, well, winning games doesn’t matter right now. Martin has dazzled defensively, but his average sits at a lowly .166. He’s a -1.4 WAR player, and his on-base percentage is just .226.

Unlike Ruiz, Martin limped into the All-Star break even for his standards. He did not pick up a hit in his final seven games, and hit just .114 in his last 16 (5/44). If you’re waiting for the good news, don’t hold your breath. But if Martin is ever going to stick at the Major League level, or ever return after he undoubtedly starts 2020 in the minors, he’ll have to show some improvement. After three months of seeing Major League pitchers, Martin could be due for a slight uptick.

There’s also Chris Davis. It’s safe to say that Davis will never return to a player that garners MVP votes, but he’s still capable of getting hot for a week or two. Davis ended the first half hitting .364/.440/.682 in his last seven games. If Davis could pull that .189 average slightly above the Mendoza Line, bring his .274 OBP above .300, and blast a few more bombs, he may be tolerable if you can put the paycheck out of your mind.

There’s also something to be said about continued success. If Alberto can avoid a drop off in his average, if Núñez can blast 35 homers, if Andrew Cashner keeps winning games, all of those would be just as impressive.

There’s no doubt you’re a true fan if you’re still tuning in to O’s games on a regular basis. I hope you all enjoy this little break from the Birds (a true break, because Means never made it to the mound during the All Star game). Hopefully a few Orioles put on a show in the second half, and maybe one or two guys will surprise us all before the fall.