Well, we’ve hit the century mark. The Orioles 100th game last night marked another milestone in this somber season. So, how do we all feel? Did you expect a slightly better performance in the first year of the Mike Elias/Brandon Hyde administration, or has Baltimore fared a bit better than you expected?
If you’ve stayed engaged this long, you’re probably going to stick around until the end of the season. Looking ahead, the final 62 games will tell a lot about this team. How certain guys play down the stretch could have a direct impact on their standing with the club moving forward. At a minimum, it may give us all a better understanding of what to expect next season.
With that being said, let’s jump into some over/unders. Feel free to share you picks in the comment section and to explain your rationale.
Over/Under .300 batting average for Hanser Alberto?
Hanser Alberto entered Tuesday’s game hitting .307 with 93 hits in 303 at bats. The 26-year-old has been worth one win above replacement this season, and his swing early and often approach has been fun to watch.
Alberto’s average has attracted a great deal of attention this year for two reasons. First, he entered 2019 with a .192 career average across three partial seasons at the Major League level. Second, his free swinging approach puts his on-base percentage (.325) only 18 points above his batting average. Alberto has only drawn seven walks this season, which obviously takes a toll on a player’s OBP.
Alberto likely needs to bump up his OBP if he wants to have a long career at the MLB level, but it’s unlikely he changes his approach before the end of the year. His .409 batting average against left handers jumps off the page, and his average will only improve if he sits a few more games against righties. Believe it or not, Alberto may be a .300 hitter when this season comes to a close.
Over/Under .5 complete games for Baltimore pitchers
With Andrew Cashner now in Boston, the Orioles lost one of their only candidates to accomplish this feat. All Star John Means has not worked deeper than the seventh inning this season, but he’s thrown over 100 pitches seven times this year. An extremely efficient night from the left hander could get the Orioles on the board.
The Birds will likely be careful with Dylan Bundy after he missed a start with knee tendinitis. It would have been interesting to see if Asher Wojciechowski had the chance to go the distance last week against the Red Sox had he kept his no hitter intact. Wojciechowski worked 7 1/3 innings with 10 strikeouts against the defending World Champs. It only takes one dominant start to get there, and there’s certainly no rush to get to the Orioles bullpen this season. Still, I wouldn’t hold your breath.
Over/Under 35 home runs for Renato Núñez or Trey Mancini
Renato Núñez entered last night’s game with 23 home runs and Trey Mancini began the contest with 21. No other Baltimore players had more than 11 bombs to their credit. These two may not be the “Bash Brothers” just yet, but Núñez sits on pace for 37 dingers while Mancini would reach 34 at his current pace. Will either cool off or heat up?
While both player’s power surges have come as a pleasant surprise, I can’t remember anyone linking Núñez’s name to a 35-40 home run season back in March. Mancini may have missed the All Star game, but he’ll likely be the team MVP when all is said and done. That being said, despite a pair of multi-homer outbursts in July, Mancini has just four homers in the last month. Thirty seems like a good number for the outfielder/first baseman, and any more than that would be gravy on a nice season.
As Brandon Hyde promised, the Orioles are going to give Núñez more of a look defensively down the stretch. Playing the field may break up Núñez’s routine, but success at either first or third base could add to his confidence. There’s a legitimate chance Núñez reaches 35 bombs, and he could even push for 40.
Over/Under 55 wins for the Orioles
Entering Tuesday, the Orioles sat at 31-68. FanGraphs projected the Orioles to go 24-39 the rest of the way and finish 55-107. For what it’s worth, that’s two game better/worse than the Tigers projected record of 57-105 (Hello, number one pick!).
The Orioles record could be swung at the trade deadline. Losing Jonathan Villar could cost the club a win or two, and Mychal Givens has not given up an earned run since June 22. Still, the Orioles are who they are. Most of you are pulling for the top pick in 2020 more than anything else, and that’s completely understandable. 56-106 might still get the job done.
Over/Under .5 Games played by Mark Trumbo
Mark Trumbo is currently with the Norfolk Tides on a rehab assignment testing out his knee. This isn’t Trumbo’s first rehab assignment, and the 33-year-old veteran likely won’t push it if he’s not healthy. The Orioles haven’t exactly missed him this year with Mancini, Chris Davis and now Núñez playing first base. He is not under contract past this season.
Over/Under .200 batting average for Chris Davis
Chris Davis entered Tuesday night’s game hitting .191 (41/215) with a .271 OBP. He has only seven homers this year, and has struck out 92 times in 240 plate appearances. However, Davis has hit .277/.340/.447 in his last 15 games. Can he sneak above the Mendoza line before the season comes to a close?
Over/Under 3.00 ERA for John Means
Means currently holds an 8-5 record with a 2.95 ERA in 20 starts this season. He’s been the story of the season in Baltimore, and no one could be upset if he showed some slight regression in the second half. The 26-year-old staying below three earned runs per game would be remarkable, but it’s been an extremely impressive season for Means no matter what.