With any team in the major leagues, it’s likely that the Orioles are the easiest to design, at least in terms of where they finish in the standings. Fifth place seems almost certain, as the other four teams in the division have won more than 90 games last year, and none of them have gotten much worse. Ever since Buck Shawolter left Zach Britton at the bullpen during the 2016 Wild Card game, the Orioles have finished last in the division in every full season, making the short run to fourth in the 2020 season.
The orioles of 2022 will basically consist of the same faces as in 2021. If one could find a bright spot among these faces, it is definitely Cedric Mullins, the breakthrough star of 2021. 30 home runs and 30 interceptions, the first oriole to publish a 30/30 season. Combined with a top position at the center, Mullins spent a season that earned him All-Star recognition, a finish in the top 10 MVP and a silver win.
Whether it was the first great season for Mullins in a great career, or whether it was just a brilliance on the radar, remains to be seen. His frequency of severe injuries (39th percentile) and walking frequency (47th percentile) do not inspire much confidence, but his elite defense (96th percentile OAA) and his contact skills are well above average (77th percentile). ventilation, 69th percentile rate of deletion) and speed (86th percentile rate of sprint) provide it with a solid floor.
Together with Mullins the Orioles return the trio: Ryan Mountcastle, Trey Mancini and Anthony Santander. Mountcast spent a good season in 2021, gaining the support of the rookie of the year by voting, but his OBP 0.309 leaves much to be desired, especially from the first baseman. The first year after battling cancer even going out on the field was a win, but Mancini spent a respectable (though not eye-catching) season in addition to it: 104 OPS + and 21 Homers.
Santander has taken a major step back from his breakthrough in 2021, as his power has disappeared, killing just .433, after killing .575 the year before. The most notable winter addition to the crime is the second man from the Rougned Odor base. Although there was a time when Odor was a productive striker, it seems those days are behind us. The 28-year-old has not even published OPS + averages in the league since his 22-year season (2016).
Probably the main prospect of Adly Rutschman at some point this season will be in the major leagues, potentially even on opening day. A hunter with switches from Oregon has proven to be a major prospect for fishing for offensive and defensive purposes. Every time he arrives in Baltimore, he will become the most exciting part of the team.
Where the crime had several notable names worth mentioning, the presentation is even gloomier, except for John Mins. In 2021, he still has room for growth if he wants to become a true starting newcomer. His walking speed of 4.4% is phenomenal (96th percentile), but he lags far behind the league average in several categories, including the% barrel (13th percentile), chasing speed (38th percentile) and xSLG (26th). The impact on the impact zone is usually large, but less so when these impacts become. The Oriole depth chart on the list are just three newcomers for Minsk, Bruce Zimmerman, Keegan Akin and Zach Lower. Addition to offseason Jordan Liles also plans to spend some time in rotation. Of these four pitchers, they have a total of only two seasons above 100 ERA +, 0 such qualified seasons and 0 seasons with ERA + above 106, regardless of workload. Needless to say, in 2022 Baltimore will give up a lot of races.
Projection for victory: 57-105
At the end of the year, when they went from 52-110, which equates to the worst record in Majors (Arizona), this forecast does predict a small improvement, but it is more the result of the expected regression to the average than the recognition of improving the ball club. Simply put, playing 110 games is hard. Baltimore have been lucky enough to play over 60 combined games against the Red Sox, Race, Yankees and Blue Jays, all of whom have won more than 90 games last season and seem poised to do so again. It will be another long year in Baltimore. Even if everything beats right for the Orioles, it’s hard to imagine they win more than 65-70 games, even if they weren’t in the East AL. Unfortunately, buying a ticket to Camden Yards this season is buying a one-way ticket to the basement, where the Orioles will be at the moment for the 5th time in 6 years.
Matt O’Hallaran is a junior mathematician at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He works in analytics with the school baseball program. He is the author of Beyond the Box Score and the editor of Diamond Digest. It can be found on Twitter @ matto20.
Baltimore Orioles: The Adventures of AL East
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