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Baltimore Orioles Team Preview

Baltimore Orioles ‘24 Breakdown

The Baltimore Orioles finished with the second-best record in the league and won the American League East by two games last season. They come in this year, tied or competing with the Yankees to win the East, depending on which sportsbook you use (+185-Draftkings / +200 Fanduel). Baltimore’s farm system is a big reason why they are up and coming and projected so highly. Jackson Holliday, the number one prospect in the league (1st overall 2022) will start the season in the minors after GM Mike Elias explained they feel Holliday needs to get more work in in AAA before being thrown into the thick of the majors. Holliday should be recalled at some point this season and will join a solid young lineup. Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander lead this lineup at age 29, with the rest ranging from 23 to 27.

Baltimore’s season ended in a first-round matchup against the eventual World Series winner Texas Rangers. We were on the right side of that series taking the Rangers + money. The reason for the play against the heavily favored Orioles was the lack of experience this team carries. Most of this Orioles lineup comes in with less than two full seasons of major experience and will be relied upon to carry this team to a championship. The Orioles finished as the 7th best team in 2023 in runs scored but struggled with the long ball. Baltimore had no 30-home-run hitters and three with 20 or more (Santander, Henderson, Rutschman). Their offense should hit this season for semi-power but more for average and consistency. Runs will come in bunches, and they should finish in the top ten in the league in that category. The biggest category the Orioles finished top in last season was their record against teams with a winning %. Baltimore showed they could compete with the rest in the regular season. I worry about them this year. Baltimore’s lack of power and the change to the left field wall’s distance are concerns. The Red Sox were the only AL East team to finish below .500 and the rest of the AL East should improve this year leaving Baltimore as a team who should regress. This offense doesn’t have the depth or experience I feel it needs to be a top contender. 

The American League is pretty weak. Nine teams in the NL finished above .500 with two teams (San Francisco -4 & Pittsburgh -10) finishing just under .500. In comparison, eight teams finished above .500 in the AL last year with three teams (Boston, Detroit, Cleveland) finishing 10 games or less under .500. Baltimore should have the same success in the AL this season during the regular season. However, I still do not see them as a legitimate threat in the postseason. This offense is still too young to be able to take the next step against elite pitching rotations in a three, five, and seven-game series if they’re lucky enough to get there. What gives them a chance for me to be wrong is their vastly improved expected pitching staff this year. 

Baltimore made the biggest splash this off-season, moving DL Hall, Joey Ortiz, and a pick to the Brewers in exchange for Corbin Burnes. Burnes has been an all-star these past three seasons and finished in the top 10 in the Cy Young votes, but his numbers have slightly decreased over the past few seasons and a trade to the AL should inflate them more. Burnes is a 30-game starter but has reached 200 innings pitched once in his career. After sporting a 3.39 ERA last season we should see that climb more towards the 3.70 – 4.00 range. The AL East competes with the AL West as the toughest division in the AL and is the more hitter-friendly division regarding ballparks in the AL. Burnes will help this rotation, but they will need more than him to make a deep run.

The Orioles staff comes down to health. Right now Kyle Braddish isn’t set to return until what sounds like the late first half of the season. Bradish finished with a 2.83 ERA in 30 games for the O’s last year as their top performer. Braddish partially tore his UCL, which will result in a significant loss to this rotation in the first half of the season. Elias has been vague with Braddish saying he will return in the early first half of the season but I’m not buying it. Even if Braddish is ready to go “early” in the first half, I still expect him to need a good amount of time to get into top form. The other name the O’s are waiting on is John Means. Means hasn’t consistently since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2022. Means was shut down after returning for a few games last season and having a flare-up in his elbow at the end of September. Means did pitch well in his return going 1-2 with a 2.66 ERA. I expect Means to return before Braddish if Braddish returns at all, and when Means does, he should help improve the depth of the Oriole’s rotation. 

Kyle Gibson is gone this year after leading the team in wins last year with 15, but Burnes will take over that spot and dominate more than Gibson’s 4.73 ERA. Dean Kremer and Tyler Wells are two starters that I expect to improve this year for Baltimore. Kremer and Wells along with Grayson Rodriguez will round out the Orioles’ 2-3-4 rotation and give the O’s a chance to win every time they take the mound. When these guys are on the mound will be when we look to target some game overs depending on the matchup. All three pitchers will teeter around the .500 or slightly above mark with a 3.5-4.0 ERA range. I expect Kremer to regress the most with Wells and Rodriguez having the biggest opportunity for improvement. 

While I see the O’s being a team to make that can make the expanded payoffs, I don’t expect them to get very far. They won’t be a team I will be making any World Series futures on, and while I’m not sold on them winning the division, the odds of +170/+200 have some value. The win total of 90.5 puts them 20 games over .500 and as a playoff team. Personally, I think there may be value in Baltimore missing the playoffs. The AL East is going to be very competitive this year and if Baltimore does make the playoffs they aren’t making a deep run. The correct stage of elimination to lose in the Divisional Series +300  or Wild Card round +350 are my favorite plays on the Orioles. 

Nightghost
Author: Nightghost

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