The Baltimore Orioles are coming out of the all-star break with a 54-35 record, in control of the top Wild Card spot and within striking distance of the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the ultra competitive American League East. There are many things that people are expecting or would like to see from the O's in the second half, but we are not here to talk about those things. This article is my bold predictions. I do truly believe that all of these predictions are possible, although some are rather improbable and may need some assistance from the baseball Gods.
Bold predictions for the second half of the Orioles season
Dean Kremer wins 20 games
Kremer finished the first half of the season tied for the team lead with nine wins. He also will pitch the first game out of the all-star break and, barring injury, should make about 15 more starts this season. Kremer has shown flashes of brilliance this season, mainly with a spectacular month of May that saw him go 3-1 over five starts with a 2.45 ERA against some of the best teams in baseball. Kremer's June was less than spectacular, but he got July off to a good start against the New York Yankees, allowing 2 runs (1ER) on four hits in 7 innings.
Kremer has also benefitted from the Orioles strong offense. The team is averaging over five runs per game started by Kremer. Kremer has been pitching deeper into games, which helps him get credit in some of the Orioles comebacks that we've become accustomed too. If he can pitch the second half like he did in May and the lineup continues to produce for him, he'll have a legitimate shot at 20 wins.
Anthony Santander hits 40 home runs
Santander began 2023 ice cold and only had two home runs heading into May. He then turned things around and hit seven homers that month. After cooling off a bit at the beginning of June, Santander broke out of his slumber, hitting five home runs in six games. He also finished the first half by mashing two home runs in a 15-2 win over the Minnesota Twins.
The switch hitting slugger has power from both sides of the plate and locked down the three spot in an Orioles lineup that provides him good protection. His .498 SLG is the highest of any full season in his career (he slugged .575 in 2020) and his 44.6% hard hit rate is the best of any season in his career. Santander has shown streaky power this season and one big power month can put him within striking distance of 40 homers.
Yennier Cano wins Rookie of the Year
Many experts started this season by picking an Oriole to be the American League Rookie of the Year, but it's safe to assume that none of them picked Yennier Cano as that rookie. After pitching to a 11.50 ERA in 13 appearances between the Twins and Orioles in 2022, Cano began this season with the Norfolk Tides. With the O's bullpen struggling early in the season, Cano was a surprise call up in mid April. He grabbed hold of the setup role by pitching 11 innings over nine appearances in April without giving up a hit or walking a batter.
Obviously Cano wasn't going to pitch the entire season without surrendering any runs or hits, but he has continued to pitch very well and was named an all-star. Cano has been one of baseball's best relievers and demonstrated an ability to get outs in high leverage situations. If he can continue to lock down the eighth inning for one of baseball's best teams, any maybe pick up a few saves along what will surely become a playoff race, he should definitely be involved in the Rookie of the Year conversation.
Felix Bautista wins the AL Cy Young award
I am very rarely in favor of a relief pitcher winning the Cy Young award, but Felix Bautista has been incredible. No pitcher has ever averaged 18 K/9 for an entire season but Bautista is doing exactly that. He has 84 strikeouts in 42.0 innings. His ability to blow a high fastball by hitters then take 20 mph off and drop a splitter below the zone is almost unfair. The Mountain is third in baseball with 28 saves with a real shot at passing Jim Johnson's Orioles single season save record (51).
He is currently 4-1 on the season and his 1.07 ERA is the lowest of any pitcher to throw at least 26.0 innings this season. If Bautista is able to continue to strikeout hitters at a record setting pace while keeping his ERA very low, he could be the first reliever to win the Cy Young since Eric Gagne won in 2003 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He could also be the first reliever to win the award in the American League since Dennis Eckersley won with the Oakland Athletics in 1992.
I know that all of these things are not likely to occur, but how many more articles can we read predicting Shohei Ohtani and Ronald Acuna to win the MVP's? Whether or not any of these Orioles accomplish those feats or win any awards is anyone's guess. One thing that is a safe bet is that these Orioles are fun to watch and are only getting better. Let's go O's!