John Means: The Baltimore Orioles’ own “from rags to riches” story

John Means #42 of the Baltimore Orioles
John Means #42 of the Baltimore Orioles /

Baltimore Orioles Opening Day starter John Means has come a long way in his career

From being an 11th round draft pick and an often never thought of prospect, John Means has pulled a complete 180 for the Baltimore Orioles as he will now be their Opening Day starter.

John Means will take the hill on Thursday and start another chapter in his rags to riches saga. This accomplishment follows up his previous All-Star selection as well as rounding out 2019 as the runner-up in the AL Rookie of the Year ballots. He still may not be a well-known name throughout the league, but this Baltimore Oriole lefty is ready to harness the number 1 role.

From the years before that, many Orioles fans may not have even known who John Means was, as the so-called “experts” constantly ranked him towards the bottom of the Orioles’ pipeline. How did they get this so wrong? The honest answer, it’s baseball and why we all love it so much. From the bench to the ballot, it’s all pointing upwards heading into the new season.

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The best way to predict a new campaign is to look at the previous season, and what a year it was. Specifically looking at the end of the 2020 campaign where Means finished his last 4 starts going 2-1 with a 1.52 ERA. In those starts, he pitched 23 2/3 innings striking out 30 and making us all start to see the real future ace inside of him.

John Means: The Baltimore Orioles’ own “from rags to riches” story

As equally as excited as his newfound role is his trend. Means’ progression has constantly pointed upward from 2017 on. From an ERA in the 4.00’s in Double-A to a 3.48 in 2018 with Triple-A Norfolk, though now, he has taken every step in stride, making everyone believe the future is star-studded.

Looking ahead to this season, it makes it challenging not to look through star-studded glasses while predicting his season to come. Overall in 42 career games played, he holds a 14-15 record. If he can remain healthy, then getting over the 30 games started hump would be an excellent outcome. Looking objectively at this, seeing John Means finish with a 16-10 record would bring hope to the rest of the rotation and the budding O’s offense.

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Rags, shadows, or just hiding out are no longer ways to introduce the clear Opening Day southpaw as he will take the mound Thursday afternoon. The future is always unpredictable. But, when judging from the past, we have to think what to come will undoubtedly be bright.