2017 Fantasy Recap: The Baltimore Orioles
When Buck Showalter took over the Baltimore Orioles in 2011, they’d had a losing record in 10 of their prior 11 seasons, including six straight. They had a losing record in 2011, but then they turned it around, posting a .500-or-better record each season from 2012-16. Under Showalter, the team made three postseason appearances, and looked primed to do it again this year, even in a stacked American League.
However, those postseason hopes were dashed this year, as the team finished dead last in the American League East. They had an absolutely horrific month of September, going 6-20. Will those unmet expectations usher in major changes this winter?
It’ll be interesting to see what the team does with superstar third baseman Manny Machado. His numbers took a noticeable dip this year, as he his .259/.310/.471 slash line were among his lowest totals of the last three years. That led to less extra base hits, less home runs, and less runs driven in. As of right now, the Orioles have no plans to shop the three-time All-Star infielder this winter, though they haven’t yet decided whether they will make a second big attempt to lock him up long-term. While the team does want to bolster its pitching rotation, it appears that a key part of their offseason blueprint involves trying to extend the contract of Machado, who will be a prized, and very expensive, free agent after next season.
Amidst a disappointing season, second baseman Jonathan Schoop managed to enjoy a career year. He finished with Schoop’s now up to 32 homers, 105 RBI, 92 runs and a .293/.338/.503 slash line for the campaign. Those are elite numbers in all settings, and the 25-year-old second baseman projects to remain a go-to asset hitting the middle of the Baltimore lineup for years to come. Given how much young offensive potential he’ll have surrounding him, the arrow is only pointing upwards, in terms of his future production.
As mentioned, the team will be looking to bolster its pitching rotation in the offseason, trying to add arms around young prospect Dylan Bundy. The right hander threw exactly 60 more frames than he did a year ago. However, he seemed to wear down late in the campaign. Still, he showed flashes of brilliance and will look to take another step forward in his age-25 season next year. His 4.24 ERA was the best among the team’s starting pitchers, as was his career-high 13 wins.
The team is also cautiously optimistic about pitcher Kevin Gausman. The 26-year-old righty struggled with consistency en route to a 4.68 ERA in 34 starts and 71 walks (the fourth most in the American League), but he showed flashes of brilliance with seven starts of at least seven innings and one or fewer runs allowed in his last 17 appearances.
Baltimore will also have to figure out what they’re going to do with Chris Tillman, who’ll be heading into free agency this winter. Tillman had a miserable season, posting a 8.08 ERA and 1.96 WHIP over his 18 previous starts, and eventually being relegated to the bullpen multiple times since mid-August.