Three minutes on the Baltimore Orioles

In February, PECOTA, the much-maligned projection system from Baseball Prospectus, suggested a 69-win season for the Orioles.

Camden Chat’s response was:

Where does it all leave the Orioles? PECOTA has given its answer: 69 wins. Orioles fans have to hope that the system is as hilariously wrong as it has been in the past.

And hilariously wrong it was.

61 games back in the AL East with only 47 wins to 115 defeats. It was the worst campaign in the history of the franchise.

Although they had finished bottom of the AL East in 2017, there were signs that the team might be able to put together one final push while they still had Manny Machado on board.

Thinking back to 2017, in August Tim Beckham scored 27 runs on his own … in one month. This season, the team’s highest run scorer was Trey Mancini with 61 runs … in six months.

Anyway, Beckham is on his way out, non-tendered after hitting just 10 home runs with .661 OPS and below-average defence at shortstop and third base.

The former first-round pick was projected to earn $4.3 million in 2019. There is speculation that he could be a bounce-back candidate, perhaps in Detroit. I hope so, I like him.

Also non-tendered was catcher Caleb Joseph. The 32-year-old was below-replacement level last season, and unfortunately, his time at Camden Yards will be forever tarnished by his 2016 campaign when he failed to drive in one single run. Not one RBI.

Although the team also said goodbye to stalwart Adam Jones, the biggest hole in the offseason was made by the departure of Buck Showalter. The team is now handcuffed in Hot Stove negotiations until a new manager is installed.

Even through orange-tinted glasses, there is little to fill Orioles fans with much excitement ahead of the 2019 season.

Dylan Bundy and his 5.45 ERA returns to spearhead the rotation in tandem with Alex Cobb (4.90 ERA). Both pitchers are better than their 2018 results suggest.

Relief pitcher Mychal Givens’ 0-7 win-loss record doesn’t reflect his abilities, and the 28-year-old will likely be given the closer role to start the season.

Despite the rest of MLB enjoying this home run era that we are witnessing, the two most prolific sluggers on the Orioles’ roster had a dismal 2018.

Mark Trumbo, the 2016 home run leader, hit just 17 dingers with 0.3 WAR. He missed the final month of the season after undergoing knee surgery, but is expected to be 100% fit for Spring Training.

Trumbo offered elite production compared to Chris Davis (2013 & 2015 home run king) who went deep 16 times and finished the season with league-worst -3.1 WAR.

Trumbo is owed $13.5M for 2019 and Davis $23M for each of the next four seasons. Unless they can patch the holes in their swings, their presence will hinder more than it will help the Orioles.

Currently, Davis equates to an eye-watering 40% of Baltimore’s Opening Day payroll.

The up-and-coming youth movement is intriguing. Catcher Chance Sisco has the opportunity to be a useful player both at and behind the plate.

Cedric Mullins, Yusniel Diaz and Austin Hays could all get a shot in the outfield, and Ryan Mountcastle looks a solid player at third base. DJ Stewart is unpolished but powerful.

It only needs a couple of these youngsters to put themselves in ROY contention, and 2019 might not be as dire for Baltimore as it seems.

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