Baltimore Orioles: Three Players Who Failed To Capitalize

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BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - MAY 21: Starting pitcher David Hess #41 of the Baltimore Orioles walks off the field in the fifth inning against the New York Yankees at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 21, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - MAY 21: Starting pitcher David Hess #41 of the Baltimore Orioles walks off the field in the fifth inning against the New York Yankees at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 21, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /
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Baltimore Orioles
BALTIMORE, MD – SEPTEMBER 30: Starting pitcher Jimmy Yacabonis #31 of the Baltimore Orioles throws to a Houston Astros batter in the third inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 30, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

With the 2019 regular season behind us, we’re taking a look at three Baltimore Orioles who failed to capitalize on their opportunities.

Despite the overall record, there were a number of positive takeaways from the 2019 season for the Baltimore Orioles. From the emergence of John Means to the rebound of Trey Mancini, a lot of players made positive strides in the first year of the rebuild and gave fans something to cheer for in an otherwise dark season.

Impressive improvements down in the minor leagues, a more aggressive approach on the basepaths, and a first-year manager in Brandon Hyde who did a respectable job, given the cards he was dealt, all came together to create a 2019 season which was more entertaining than 2018 and brought a bit of optimism back to Birdland.

However, not everything was a joy to watch and not everyone improved. I want to look at three players who failed to capitalize on their opportunity (often times multiple opportunities) this season and likely no longer have a place in the organization moving forward.

Random players like Tom Eshelman and Chandler Shepherd won’t be discussed here and guys like Cedric Mullins and Chance Sisco certainly disappointed, but they still have a chance to turn things around. For these three players, the future looks dark and gloomy, at least in an Orioles uniform.

We took a huge swing and miss on Jimmy Yacabonis.

I didn’t want to bring this up, but we went 0-5 with five strikeouts, all looking, in our pre-season bold predictions. One of those predictions was that Jimmy Yacabonis was going to be an All-Star, not because he earned it, but because someone from the Orioles had to make the team and I figured it would be one reliever who didn’t completely fall apart by the All-Star break.

Fast forward to mid-August and Yacabonis owned a 4.50 ERA and 1.71 WHIP during his time in Triple-A and a 6.80 ERA, 1.83 WHIP, and .307 average against in his 29 major league appearances. He was designated for assignment in August to make room for RHP Ryan Eades.

Yacabonis made it through waivers and was returned to Triple-A, so he’s still in the organization, but for how much longer? Despite a fastball (sinker? tee for home runs?) that has more movement than most pitches in baseball (ranked 3rd in horizontal movement back in 2018), hitters weren’t fooled.

Yacabonis produced fewer swings and misses (22.8%) in 2019, falling below league average (24.3%), and his groundball percentage took a nosedive, falling from 43% to 35.8%. Opponents also hit .374 against his fastball.

The Orioles have a group of fringe relievers they can look at next year (Zach Muckenhirn and Steven Klimek to name just two) instead of giving Yacabonis another chance, something I hope the Orioles are in favor of.

Next, the new-ish outfielder has a mountain to climb if he wants playing time in 2020.

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