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2023 Orioles vs. projections: Jorge Mateo (poll)

Will the speedster hit well enough to justify a daily start at short?

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Cleveland Guardians David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles boast significant infield depth with Gunnar Henderson, Jordan Westburg, Joey Ortiz, Connor Norby and Jackson Holliday all ranked on various Top 100 lists. While fans debate which prospect should be labeled the shortstop of the future, Jorge Mateo is still the shortstop of right now.

Mateo utilized his speed and defensive prowess to produce a 3.4 WAR last season. He slashed an underwhelming .221/.267/.379 but swiped 35 bases and won a fielding bible award at the most valuable position.

The 27-year-old should shine even brighter with bigger bases and an elimination of the shift, but he will ultimately be judged by his performance at the plate. Will Mateo hit well enough to quiet calls for Westburg, Ortiz or Henderson to take his spot at short?

Mateo generated little power with 13 home runs last season. The Orioles do not need power from their shortstop, but the Birds would like to see Mateo raise his OBP. The guy cannot steal second if he never makes it to first.

Mateo posted a below average 5.1 percent walk rate in 150 games last season. The number becomes even more problematic when paired with his 27.6 percent strikeout rate. Simply put, he strikes out a ton and rarely works a walk.

With Gunnar Henderson locked into the left side of the infield, Mateo needs to outperform either Ramón Urías or Adam Frazier to justify an everyday place in the lineup. Mateo’s slugging percentage will never jump off the chart, but his .646 OPS fell significantly below the .720 that Urías posted while winning a Gold Glove last season.

ZiPS projects a .669 OPS for Mateo over 136 games this year. It remains to be seen whether that number, paired with his defense, would solidify his starting job. But will Mateo top it?

The case for the over

Mateo’s strikeout and walk percentages leave plenty of room for improvement. Mateo bringing either number closer to the league average would certainly increase his OBP. The righty ranked in the 10th percentile for chase rate last season. Pitchers never want to walk a guy with Mateo’s speed, so he needs to force guys to work inside the zone.

Mateo slashed an impressive .277/.327/.489 over 27 games in August last season. He should be entering the prime of his career at age 27. The potential is there, and steady offense could launch Mateo into 5 WAR category.

The case for the under

Mateo received consistent at bats last season but failed to generate consistent results. He can make an effort to take a few extra walks, but the strikeout rate appears indicative of who he is as a hitter. He’s never going to hit the ball hard—his average exit velocity ranked in the 12th percentile—but he must put the ball in play for his speed to play a factor at all.

Extra competition could cause him to sink or swim. Mateo will face greater scrutiny this year with Henderson already in Baltimore and Ortiz and Westburg chomping at the bit. The Orioles will enter 2023 with greater expectations, and Rougned Odor and Chris Owings are no longer around to draw the ire of fans.


Mateo has been the subject of trade rumors throughout the offseason, but the Orioles appear set to begin 2023 with Mateo as their starting shortstop. The job is his to lose, but several players are willing to take it. Will he outperform his projections at the plate, and will that be enough to hold onto the starting job at short?


Will Jorge Mateo go over/under his ZiPS projected .669 OPS?

This poll is closed

  • 54%
    (169 votes)
  • 45%
    (142 votes)
311 votes total Vote Now

Tomorrow: Tyler Wells