With the 2019 MLB postseason beginning Tuesday, here’s a list of former Baltimore Orioles fans can cheer on.
The 2019 season may be over for the Baltimore Orioles, but the baseball season isn’t. The playoffs begin on Tuesday night with the Milwaukee Brewers and the Washington Nationals in the National League Wild Card game, followed by the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland A’s on Wednesday night in the AL Wild Card game. I haven’t locked down exactly who I’m cheering for yet, but at the end of the day, it’s anyone but the Yankees.
With the Orioles not in the mix for this year’s World Series trophy, we can still take this opportunity to check in on some former Birdland favorites as they chase their dream. This isn’t a comprehensive list of every single former Oriole, but some of our favorites who we’re excited to see earn a ring.
Matt Wieters, St. Louis Cardinals- The race in the NL Central was an exciting contest to keep tabs on down the stretch. Despite losing Christian Yelich, the Milwaukee Brewers were nearly impossible to beat post-Yelich injury and forced this particular race to come down to the final day of the regular season. The St. Louis Cardinals came out on top, taking the Central Division and earning a matchup with the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS.
At 33, Cardinals backup catcher Matt Wieters will make his fourth trip to the playoffs, appearing in 2012 and 2016 with the Orioles and 2017 with the Washington Nationals. He is 5-42 (.119) with one double and four runs scored in his 12 career playoff games. During the ’19 regular season, Wieters played in 67 games, hitting .214 with 11 home runs.
This may be one of the final opportunities Wieters has to win a World Series ring, as a player. It won’t be easy for St. Louis with the Dodgers standing in the way (not to overlook a tough first matchup with the Braves), but there are certainly enough veteran pieces on this roster to help lead the way.
Nick Markakis, Atlanta Braves- Can the Atlanta Braves please help Markakis in getting his first World Series ring? Finishing up his 14th season in the big leagues, Markakis appeared in fewer than 150 games (116) for just the third time in his career, hitting .285 with a .356 OBP, nine home runs, 25 doubles, and 62 RBI. This after playing in all 162 games and earning a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Award in his age-34, All-Star season.
Josh Donaldson is as dangerous as ever, Dallas Keuchel has proven to be a solid pick up, and this Atlanta roster is full of young, explosive talent and reliable veterans who continue to put up eye-opening numbers (looking at you, Freddie Freeman).
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Sitting here, reminiscing about Markakis and his time in Baltimore, I think I’ve picked my team to cheer for. Nick Markakis, World Series champion, has a pretty nice ring to it and I can’t think of many players who deserve it more. #ChopOn
Zack Britton, New York Yankees- I can’t bring myself to cheer on the Yankees, even if it’s Zack Britton on the mound to record the final out of the World Series-clinching game. I am, however, glad to see him continue to have success. Through 66 games, Britton is 3-1 with a 1.91 ERA and 1.41 WHIP, both of which are the lowest numbers he has put up since his masterful 2016 campaign (0.54 ERA, 47 saves, 0.84 WHIP). If the Yankees are able to continue their impressive season, I guess I can be happy for Britton, but no one else.
Jonathan Schoop, Minnesota Twins- A Minnesota/Atlanta World Series wouldn’t be such a bad matchup and would mean at least one deserving former-Oriole would be able to call themselves a World Series champion.
Jonathan Schoop struggled in Milwaukee last season, after the Orioles moved him as part of their trade deadline sell-off. He didn’t play much in Milwaukee’s post-season run and was allowed to walk in the offseason. Signing a one-year, prove-it deal with Minnesota, Schoop hasn’t earned himself a monster off-season contract after the season, but he has improved.
Appearing in 121 games, Schoop is hitting .256 with a .777 OPS, 23 home runs, 23 doubles, and has posted a wRC+ of 100, a 21 point increase from his 2018 production. He’s part of a record-setting lineup which recorded 307 home runs in 2019. They get New York in the ALDS, a series which features the top two home run hitting teams in the majors. Minnesota went 2-4 against the Yankees this year.
We want to hear from you, Baltimore Orioles fans! Who are you cheering for in this postseason? Are you sticking to an American League team? Want to see a small-market club take it all? An underdog? Or are you hoping for an Astros/Dodgers, a battle of Goliaths? Let us know!