Sep 19, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher
(16) throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
As the Orioles wind down their mildly disappointing 2015 season, trying to take stock of the roster going into the off season is somewhat exhausting. However the exercise might shed some light on how the Orioles Front Office should proceed as preparations for the Hot Stove League get underway.
There was good reason for nail biting. A return to the Play Offs was highly dependent on a lot of Orioles Magic, including over achieving Steve Pearce maintaining the level of play that saw him lead the team in WAR in 2014, and cast offs Travis Snider and Alejandro De Aza filling holes left by Cruz and Markakis.
While the Orioles were technically alive into late September, any fan will attest that it just hasn’t been their year.
As the players begin to make their vacation plans for the Fall, let’s rank the top 10 Orioles of 2015.
1. Chris Davis
The man they call Crush bounced back in a big way in 2015, raising his batting average by 62 points, his Home Run total by 19, and his RBI total by 40, with three games to go. He leads the Major League’s in Home Runs for the second time in three seasons and his OPS is 200 points higher from 2014 to 2015. All of this while playing almost flawless defense with only 3 errors on the season, good for a .998 Fielding Percentage.
Imagine if this Chris Davis had been manning First Base during the 2014 ALCS…
After Manny’s breakout 2013 season, at only 20 years old, many predicted his League leading 51 doubles were an indication of future power. Although correct, few saw it coming this soon. Indeed, Manny has essentially turned almost half of those doubles into Home Runs this season, with 33 long balls and 30 doubles to date. He leads the team in Batting Avg at .287 and WAR at 6.9. His defensive prowess is an afterthought because eye popping plays have become routine. Simply put, Machado has the talent to be the best player in baseball.
3. Darren O’Day
Andrew Miller was not much of a loss for the Orioles in 2015 due to the performance of O’Day. He leads the team with a 1.54 ERA and has been almost automatic in keeping the O’s in the game with a Walks/Hits per inning ratio (WHIP) under 1.00. O’Day’s ability to miss bats often times makes hitters plain angry and his bulldog attitude gives the bullpen an edge.
4. Adam Jones
It’s been a tough year for Jones and yet he still put up All Star numbers while playing outstanding Centerfield. Part of his frustration has been due to rarely being 100% healthy. He’ll finish the season with his lowest Games Played total since 2009 but many of his numbers are not too far off from his 2014 output. He’s the emotional leader of the Orioles who sometimes takes the team’s struggles personally. He’s seemed worn out at times this season but he has a tremendous hunger to win and he’ll be back at full strength in 2016.
5. Wei-Yin Chen
Chen has been the most consistent Starting Pitcher for Baltimore this season and should command a lot of attention in Free Agency as a lefty that rarely walks hitters. He averages 1.2 walks per start versus 5 K’s and obviously leads Orioles starters in WHIP.
6. Zach Britton
One of the top Closers in Baseball, Britton strikes out more than a batter per inning and his ability to get ground ball outs with the top defense in Baseball behind him makes him the perfect pitcher to shut the door for the Orioles.
One of the most exciting aspects of the 2015 season has been the emergence of Schoop who has 17 doubles and 15 Home Runs in just over 300 at bats after recovering from injury. He’s also batted a solid .279 while playing excellent defense. Schoop’s stats projected over a full season would make him a top 3 Second baseman in the league, which definitely gives Orioles fans hope for the future.
It seemed like the light went on for Gausman during the 2014 play offs and he appeared poised to vault to stardom in 2015, however the Orioles knew better and brought him along slowly again. Gausman’s last start showed what he is capable of doing when he combines his electric stuff with efficient pitch management. His biggest problem has been consistently finishing hitters off, seeming to be unwilling to use a 4 seam fastball to get hitters chasing up in the zone. If he can put it together, 2016 may be the year he finally realizes his Ace potential.
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Jimenez has been the source of much disdain from Oriole fans but he actually was the stopper of the starting rotation over the first few months of the season. He’s been an improvement after a horrid first season in Baltimore and has the ability to dominate at times. He leads the team in Wins and Strikeouts but fans expect more. Although he’s been solid this season it’s quite possible Dan Duquette spends a considerable amount of time trying to move him now that two years of his contract are in the books.
10. Caleb Joseph
Joseph has quietly shown that he can be the starting Catcher of the Baltimore Orioles moving forward, making the decision on Matt Wieters much easier for the Front Office. He’s a solid bat in the back end of the order, currently fourth on the team in RBI, while playing defense at a .996 clip and throwing out 32% of base runners.
With some tough decisions to make in the off season, a ranking of the top 10 Orioles of 2015 indicates that Davis is a priority to resign, a solid play should be made for Chen, and the team should pass on Wieters. Furthermore, O’Day will likely command attention as a possible Closer from other teams but unless the Orioles think Mychal Givens is ready for 8th inning duty, O’Day is a high priority as well.
Let the Hot Stove League begin!