In 2012, the Orioles had baseball’s most unlikely playoff run. In 2013, they didn’t have as much success, but they did have a handful of Fantasy Baseball studs at the plate.
Also, last season, for first time since Mike Mussina sported an Orioles cap, they had a legitimate front-end-of-a-rotation-type pitcher in Chris Tillman.
This past offseason, the O’s traded the two-time reigning AL saves leader in Jim Johnson to Oakland, while opting not to sign another proven closer and fill their void from within.
You can find the rest of the “Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30 Team Previews” here, as they’ll be posted over the next couple weeks.
Projected 2014 Baltimore Orioles’ “Go-To” Lineup
- Nick Markakis, RF
- Ryan Flaherty, 3B
- Chris Davis, 1B
- Adam Jones, CF
- Matt Wieters, C
- J.J. Hardy
- Nolan Reimold, DH
- David Lough, LF
- Jemile Weeks, 2B
- SP1 Chris Tillman
- SP2 Wei-Yin Chen
- SP3 Bud Norris
- SP4 Miguel Gonzalez
- SP5 Kevin Gausman
- LHP Zach Britton
- Set-Up Man: Darren O’Day
- Closer: Tommy Hunter
Fantasy Studs: Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Manny Machado
Davis’ propensity for the long ball, Machado’s gap power and ability to make contact (only 113 strikeouts in 667 at bats), and Adam Jones’ four-category contributions (HR, RBI, AVG, and SB) will see these guys go off the boards in the first two to three rounds in most leagues.
Even Machado’s injury will keep owners from letting him fall too far in the draft (the latest news is that he is 6-8 weeks ahead of schedule and if he were to play in Spring Training games by March 15, Opening Day is a possibility).
Breakout Candidates: Kevin Gausman and Chris Tillman
Many experts are putting a lot of stock in hopes that Kevin Gausman will blossom from his top prospect status into a Fantasy stud.
While I do expect him to improve on his 2013 season (3-5, 5.66 ERA in 20 appearances, 5 starts), it is Chris Tillman that I expect to take the next step and push himself closer to the upper tiers of starting pitching.
Bust Candidates: Chris Davis, Manny Machado
So while I expect Tillman to move up in owner’s draft positions for next year, there are a few I can see taking a step back – specifically, last year’s breakout players: Davis and Machado.
I expect Davis to have a strong season, but if he puts up numbers that aren’t as strong as his HR/RBI-crown-winning 2013, I can see owners passing on him to much later in 2015.
As for Machado, the fact that they are claiming he is 6-8 weeks ahead of schedule scares me. I have two reasons to think this way: 1. If he rushes to make Opening Day, will he really be ready? (Think RG3 football fans). 2. Or is he at risk of compensatory injuries? (Think Derek Jeter in 2013.)
Top Rookies: Jonathan Schoop, Henry Urrutia
The Orioles have a good mix of young players and veteran talent, and they also have a couple rookies who may make their mark on the Fantasy Baseball world this year.
Jonathan Schoop could compete for the starting second baseman job this season. The 22-year-old, who debuted for the Orioles as a September call-up, has what is considered plus power for a middle infielder. In 5 games, he hit .286 with a homer.
Another rookie who can make an impact is OF Henry Urrutia. In stops in Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk last season, he combined to hit .347/.406/.506 with 9 home runs and 50 RBI in 81 games.
He is hoping that an offseason strength program will assist him in making the squad, as he will be one of 10 players to compete for at-bats in left field and DH.
What Should You Know?
The Orioles are a powerful team, which is what Fantasy owners love to have. The trouble is it can be fleeting.
The trouble I see with this squad is that they are almost a one-trick pony without table-setter types. When the power outages come, owners may get frustrated, but when they surge, they will be back in their good graces.
Once again, don’t forget the rest of the “Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30 Team Previews” here, as they’ll be posted over the next couple weeks.
The AL East looks to be a tough division again. If you’re interested in more fantasy analysis like this (albeit for the Toronto Blue Jays), I write for Dynasty Sports Empire, check out the website, or follow me on twitter @DSEmpire_TJays.
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