Orioles 2015 Season Outlook

| April 6, 2015 | 0 Comments

orioles Today the defending American League East champions, the Baltimore Orioles, take the field in Tampa for their first regular season game. The Orioles failed to make a big free agent or trade “splash” this offseason leading many to believe they will not be a playoff team this year. I, however, believe the O’s are still the best team in the division and that they will almost certainly be in the playoffs this year.

Here are a few predictions I have for the 2015 Baltimore Orioles, as well as some questions that this season will soon answer.

Speed (the Orioles finally have it)

Last season we watched as the Kansas City Royals hit bloopers and steal bases on their way to the American League Championship. This led a lot of people to question if the Orioles need to change their approach offensively. While I don’t think the Orioles need to start playing small ball exclusively, I do think having more speed in the lineup will make it that much better. Alejandro De Aza, Everth Cabrera, and Nolan Reimold (who is currently with Norfolk) should all see significant time is they stay healthy. They all can also wreak havoc on the base paths. Just imagine if they get on base and cause the pitcher to not pay full attention to likes of Adam Jones or Chris Davis.

I don’t expect the Orioles to lead the league in stolen bases, but they will certainly have more speed in their lineup this season.

Can Steve Pearce duplicate his numbers from last year?

Nelson Cruz and Adam Jones put up the best power numbers last year but it is Steve Pearce who should receive a lot of credit for the Orioles success. Pearce was asked to play almost every day and he delivered. In 102 games, he had 21 home runs and hit almost .300. There have been a lot of fans predicting Pearce will produce similar numbers this year given the fact he should play even more, but I honestly think he may take a step back. It is just hard for me to believe in a guy that had only 17 home runs coming into last season.

Last season was the first year Pearce had received significant playing time, so maybe the more he plays, the more he produces? I am still going to tamper my expectations for him this season. If he can duplicate last year’s numbers, however, we could very well see the Orioles winning a second consecutive American League East title.

Chris Davis will have a bounce back season

Two seasons ago, Chris Davis hit the most home runs in the history of the franchise. Last year, though, he was suspended for the last 25 games (one of which will carry over to today) and had a sub .200 average. While I don’t think Davis will hit 50+ home runs again, I expect him to hit in the neighborhood of 35 home runs with a .260 ballpark average. Davis was definitely humbled last year by his performance. There was also a report that surfaced in the offseason stating that he was playing hurt, which would have limited his ability to hit to all fields. If he is healthy and his mind is right, Chris Davis should be closer to his 2012 form. Unfortunately, we will have to wait until the second game of the season to see him play.

Were Zach Britton’s struggles in the post season an aberration?

Another major factor in the Royals sweep of the Orioles in the ALCS was their lights-out bullpen in the 7th inning on. The Orioles bullpen on the other hand struggled all post season. During the regular season, however, both Zach Britton and Darren O’Day were lights out and certainly a 162-game season is a better sample size than seven games in the post season. To be a successful closer in Major League Baseball, you must be strong mentally and quickly put bad outings behind you. While I think Zach Britton has what he needs upstairs to be a successful closer, we have no idea how much his struggles during the post season will weigh on him. I mean, does anyone know what Brad Lidge is doing these days. Let’s hope Britton does not have a similar fate.

The Orioles have the best starting rotation in the division

I am sick and tired of hearing so-called “experts” saying the Orioles need more pitching if they want to win. Just because they might not be household names, does not mean the starting five for the Orioles isn’t good. Look at the numbers they put up last season. 

Outside of Ubaldo Jimenez, it is tough to remember an Oriole starter who didn’t have a quality start after the All-Star break last season. I know I said I am not going to be a believer in Steve Pearce after one good season, but I definitely believe in the Orioles rotation. They have put up some great numbers the last two seasons. Once Kevin Gausman finally cements himself in the rotation permanently (sooner rather than later I hope), the Orioles pitching will be even better. I’ll take our “no-name” starters over every other rotation in the division, even the Rays. Our guys will prove that last season was not a fluke.

No games have ever been won on paper or in the offseason. The Orioles won 95 of them on the field last season and I have no reason to believe they won’t win more than 90 this season. There is certainly going to be a lot of excitement and likely even some magic in Camden Yards this season, and I can’t wait.

Ain’t the beer cold?

See you all at Pickles on Friday!

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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