Baltimore Orioles: Best Team in the AL East

| February 19, 2015 | 8 Comments

photo 1Snow is on the ground here in Baltimore, but springtime and Baltimore Orioles baseball are right around the corner as pitchers and catcher report to Sarasota today. More so than any other sport, baseball’s offseason is packed with trades and free agent acquisitions, giving some teams hope and (on paper) turning some “pretenders” into contenders. Teams like the Padres, Mariners and Red Sox made big splashes and “won” the offseason, while teams like the Orioles were quiet. This has led many pundits to predict the Orioles to finish third or worst in the American League East, a prediction I believe is absurd.

Certainly I am no Peter Gammons, Buster Olney or Tim Kurkjian; however, my prediction is that Orioles will win the American League East or a Wild Card spot. The basis for this prediction is simple – they have the best overall roster in the division. Let’s take a look at what the O’s have coming back: the best center fielder in the division (and the 2nd best in all of baseball) and the division’s best third baseman, shortstop, first baseman and catcher. These may be the most important positions on the field and the Orioles have the best player defensively and offensively at each position. Conversely, the Red Sox went out and signed Pablo Sandoval to a 5-year deal for $95 million. While Sandoval is an upgrade for Boston, he is nowhere near the class of Manny Machado, Evan Longoria or Josh Donaldson. So, Boston spent almost $100 million to get the 4th best third baseman in the division. This is an example of overspending to improve your team. When you finish in last place, you need to bring in more than just the fourth best player at a particular position in the division for me to think you are a contender.

Now, let’s examine the pitching. The Orioles starting rotation will likely be Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, Wei Yin Chen, Bud Norris and Miguel Gonzalez. This, in my opinion, is the deepest rotation in the division. While Alex Cobb and Masahiro Tanaka may be the most talented pitchers in the division, Tanaka is coming off a season-ending injury and neither pitcher will have the offensive run support that the Orioles pitchers should have. And, the Red Sox and Blue Jays starting rotation are both average. The Orioles bullpen struggled in the postseason but their body of work over 162 games last year is a better sample size and they were lights out in the regular season. Overall, the Orioles might not have “big names” when it comes to pitching, but their staff is the best in the division top to bottom.

Heading in to spring training every team is hopeful to win the World Series. With the second Wild Card spot there is now a lot more teams that believe they have a realistic shot of making the playoffs, thus leading to more offseason moves to improve any given team. The Orioles dealt with the loss of Nelson Cruz and his 40 home runs, Andrew Miller who may be the best left handed reliever in baseball, and longtime Oriole Nick Markakis, not to mention the speculation that Dan Duquette would leave the team to go to the Blue Jays. Because of all of this and the other division “splashes” (if you call Russell Martin, Wade Miley and Pablo Sandoval splashes), many do not believe the Orioles will contend. However, having the best lineup from top to bottom, best starting staff, and best manager in the division should make the Orioles the favorite. Couple that with the fact that the Rays sold their entire team and the Yankees are in turmoil, there is likely to be another division title in Baltimore.

If I am wrong I will write a piece saying how stupid my prediction was but, with that being said, I truly believe this is the best team in the division and I will guarantee playoff baseball in Baltimore this year.

The ALCS left us with a sour taste, but 2015 will be our chance for redemption. We won’t stop rooting for them and they won’t stop representing our city.

Ain’t the beer cold?

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About the Author:

I have spent my entire 30 years living in Maryland and I love everything about this city. Despite the bad reputation the city has, Baltimore will always be a special place to me and I love living here. There is nothing better then Sunday afternoons at M&T Bank Stadium and summer nights at Camden Yards when the Yard is packed. You can find me all over the city so don't hesitate to share your opinion of me good or bad. Who knows, if you see me out maybe I will buy you a Natty Boh. Lets go Ravens and Lets go O's!!! Follow me on Twitter at @MRomanell.
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