It’s almost time for the Orioles to get the 2020 season under way, at long last. When their Opening Day game gets under way in Boston, this is going to be the lineup:
- Austin Hays - CF
- Anthony Santander - RF
- Jose Iglesias - SS
- Renato Nunez - DH
- Chris Davis - 1B
- Hanser Alberto - 2B
- Rio Ruiz - 3B
- Pedro Severino - C
- DJ Stewart - LF
That’s the lineup in support of the surprise replacement Opening Day starter, veteran lefty Tommy Milone.
It says a lot about where the 2020 Orioles are and where they will probably end up at season’s end that none of the top five spots in the lineup are guys where you can look at them and think, “Oh yeah, he definitely belongs there.”
I’m hopeful about Hays, but as a leadoff hitter after he had a hot 21 games last September? Santander is in the #2 spot, in modern thinking the place to put your best hitter so he bats more often, and he had below a .300 OBP last season. #3 hitter Iglesias has a career .687 OPS in nearly 3,000 plate appearances. Cleanup hitter Nunez slugged .460 in 2019. Davis’s struggles need no further comment.
You can put on some orange colored glasses and not have too hard of a time thinking that there’s some potential here, at least to be a little better than the pessimist might think. There are a lot of ifs involved, but it’s there.
If how Hays hit last September is close to his true talent. If Santander’s performance before September is more reflective of his true talent than his September slump. If the Davis weight gain that announcers mentioned repeatedly through the spring and again in the summer camp exhibition games makes a real, positive difference. If any one of those other guys could be about to start a two-month hot streak that even a below-average MLB player is capable of having in a normal-length season.
Any of those are possible, even if it’s highly unlikely that all of them will come to fruition. It’s enough that the lineup probably won’t be the thing that makes tuning in to watch this team a bleak prospect. That’s going to come from the pitching staff.
Here’s the Red Sox lineup opposing the O’s:
- Andrew Benintendi - LF
- J.D. Martinez - DH
- Rafael Devers - 3B
- Xander Bogaerts - SS
- Kevin Pillar - RF
- Christian Vasquez - C
- Michael Chavis - 1B
- Jackie Bradley Jr. - CF
- Jose Peraza - 2B
It’s going to be weird seeing Pillar on an AL East team that isn’t the Blue Jays, and also with him not being in center field. Nathan Eovaldi is the Red Sox Opening Day starter. He was Orioles rotation-level bad in the 2019 season.