Baltimore Orioles 2018 Season Preview
The 2018 Baltimore Orioles had something of a “let’s get the band back together for one last go around” type of feel to them. But given the way they’ve started off the 2018 Major League Baseball (MLB) season, it appears that the forthcoming change of scenery might be in everyone’s best interest.
Heading into this season
Heading into this season, some of the biggest names on the team were impending free agents; specifically, Manny Machado, Zach Britton, and Adam Jones were entering the last year of their contracts. In addition, it was the same for skipper Buck Showalter and General Manager Dan Duquette.
But for a team that finished dead last in the American League East, and had the third-worst run differential in the American League last year, the Orioles didn’t really seem to show any real urgency this offseason. After watching their division rivals (the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox) engage in their annual arms race, the Orioles were content to try and stick with their current lineup, save for a couple of additions to their pitching staff, in the form of Andrew Cashner (formerly of the Texas Rangers) and Alex Cobb (formerly of the Tampa Bay Rays).
Another step back?
Unsurprisingly, various prognostications have the Orioles finishing anywhere between 69 and 75 wins, meaning most models show the team actually taking another step back from last year’s disappointment. Their inexperienced pitching rotation is once again going to be among the bottom in the AL. Zach Britton, the team’s closer who should have won the Cy Young award in 2016, is still recovering from a catastrophic ruptured Achilles tendon. Two of the hitters they’re relying on most Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo are coming off nasty slumps in 2017.
Machado the man
The lone bright spot on the team remains Machado, who will move back to shortstop from third base this season. Machado is the best player on the team, and perhaps the most iconic member of the Orioles since Cal Ripken Jr. Last year, Machado finished with a .259/.310/.471 slash line, which included 33 home runs and 95 RBI. What will he do for an encore? That remains to be seen, though he’ll be plenty motivated considering he’ll look to cash in next winter as another member of the upcoming star-studded free agent class.
Although, what also remains to be seen is whether the Orioles find themselves in a position this Fall where they’d rather trade Machado to a team that offers the right building blocks for the future, instead of watching Machado walk away while receiving nothing in return.
Not a great start 2018
But the Fall might as well be eons away from right now; given the way the Orioles have started the season, it could be a really long spring and summer. Through the first six games of the 2018 season, the Orioles have surrendered the most runs this season, have scored the second-fewest runs in the AL, and already have the worst run differential in the big leagues.
Baseball fans in Baltimore might be better off spending their days on the Harbor and enjoying all the fine seafood it has to offer, because the Orioles already look cooked themselves.