Baltimore Orioles: Building the Ideal September Lineup

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 06: Trey Mancini #16 of the Baltimore Orioles celebrates with Tim Beckham #1 after hitting a solo home run in the first inning during a game against the Detroit Tigers at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 6, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 06: Trey Mancini #16 of the Baltimore Orioles celebrates with Tim Beckham #1 after hitting a solo home run in the first inning during a game against the Detroit Tigers at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 6, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

With the Baltimore Orioles’ 2018 season completely lost and September roster expansion in full swing, it’s time we look to see who the Orioles have that can contribute on next year’s roster and beyond

The Baltimore Orioles continued filling out their extended September roster on Wednesday, recalling infielder Steve Wilkerson from Triple-A Norfolk.

Having spent the past two months on the disabled list with a left-oblique strain, Wilkerson will likely serve as a utility infielder for the rest of September before heading to the Arizona Fall League in October.

The O’s now have 30 players on the active roster, with 15 hitters vying for playing time. Today, let’s build the Orioles’ ideal September lineup, position by position, and see who deserves to play every day and who belongs in a back-up role.


Caleb Joseph has received the majority of starts behind the dish for the Orioles in 2018 but has been dismal at the plate. The 32-year-old has posted a .201/.244/.310 batting line in 69 games; he still has two arbitration years remaining but he’s not going to be on the next good Orioles team.

Austin Wynns is a 27-year-old in his first season in the majors; he’ll be cost-controlled for the entirety of his career at this point, as he won’t hit free agency until his age-33 season. Wynns has shown good plate discipline in 6 seasons with the Orioles organization and has an above average caught-stealing percentage in limited time this year.

Chance Sisco is still expected to be the catcher of the future although he’s been an awful hitter between Norfolk and Baltimore this year and has struggled to throw out base runners. Sisco needs more time to develop.

I’m starting Wynns and using Sisco as a backup. Sisco needs the playing time but he shouldn’t be thrown into the fire just yet, plus there’s still a good chance he’s selected for the AFL this October and that’ll help his development.

The only drawback to pulling Joseph is that the other two catchers may not have built chemistry with the pitchers yet. Since this year is a wash, and next year likely is too, there’s plenty of time for Wynns and Sisco to develop that repertoire; there’s no argument to continue to play Joseph at this point.

First Base

Chris Davis has been the primary first baseman for the Orioles all year, although he’s hitting .180 and pacing for over 200 strikeouts for the third time in four years. Yes, his bat has disappeared but I still have a hard time believing he’s completely done at age 32.

Trey Mancini has seen some time at first but has been primarily an outfielder for the Orioles. However, he’s a terrible defensive outfielder and the loss of Mark Trumbo opens up the DH spot for either Mancini or Davis.

Since Mancini isn’t great in the outfield, I want to see him get time at first to see if he can be a serviceable defender there. At 32, Davis won’t be on the next good Orioles team; this is a perfect opportunity to see if Mancini can be the Orioles everyday first baseman going forward.

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Second Base

We can spare some drama here; the answer is Jonathan Villar. His bat plays everywhere and he’s more than likely the second best hitter on the team right now, whatever that’s worth.

Villar was never a great defensive shortstop in Houston or Milwaukee but he does profile as an above-average second baseman and there just aren’t any other great options for the Orioles here.

I’m indifferent about whether Breyvic Valera or Jace Peterson backs up Villar because if he’s healthy, Villar should get almost all of the September starts, and should be the everyday second baseman on the 2019 Orioles.


Tim Beckham still has plenty of upside; he has a career .730 OPS and doesn’t have the best plate discipline but should serve as an everyday option for the Orioles to get through September and 2019.

Similar to second base, the Orioles don’t have another great option here; if Beckham can’t go, Villar likely serves as the shortstop and Valera, Peterson or Wilkerson will man the keystone. Beckham should see everyday shortstop duties for the remainder of 2018.

Third Base

Renato Nunez has taken over since he was acquired from the Texas Rangers in July. In 39 games, he’s proven to be an adequate defender at third, but his power has completely disappeared this year.

Steve Wilkerson has been through the ringer this year, getting suspended 50 games for amphetamines and missing significant time to an oblique injury. He was viewed as a potential utility man at the end of last year and could get that reputation back after a stint in the AFL this October.

The Orioles should continue to play Nunez. Just 24, Nunez still has potential to be an every day infielder for the Orioles, whereas Wilkerson is more likely a utility man. The Orioles also need to see if Nunez’ power can translate to the majors.


As long as Austin Hays isn’t on the MLB roster, the outfield is Adam Jones, Cedric Mullins and Joey Rickard, with John Andreoli as a backup. With Mark Trumbo out for the year, Mancini can battle with Davis over 1B and DH duties.

So to list it out: C-Wynns  1B-Mancini  2B-Villar  SS-Beckham  3B-Nunez  LF-Rickard  CF-Mullins  RF-Jones  DH-Davis

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Unfortunately the Orioles don’t have much to get excited about in September. Mullins and Sisco, and Hays if he’s up, could be fun to watch, but the O’s have a lot of work to do this off-season to try to right the ship in Baltimore.