Baltimore Orioles 2021: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

How will things shape up in the AL East?

The Orioles are entering the third year of a massive rebuilding project under a new front office regime that's introducing the franchise to analytical data and the importance of international scouting. It's a whole new world that likely will produce the same old results in 2021. The team isn't ready to contend over a full season, especially in the unforgiving and unsympathetic AL East. The funneling of prospects onto the major league roster is the most important gain. More debuts are coming. But so is a pile of losses created by an undermanned and inexperienced roster and one of the lowest payrolls in baseball.

 

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Orioles

Baltimore Orioles logo"They hung in there last season a lot longer than anybody thought they would, and I love the way that Brandon Hyde shows confidence in his guys by sticking with them if they struggle for a game or two. He's their No. 1 advocate, and they play hard for him. The problem is that, as an organization, they're not really interested in winning, to the point where they wouldn't even make modest expenditures to keep productive players like Hanser Alberto and Renato Nunez. I'm not sure there's anyone on the big-league roster who will be a part of their next winning team, except maybe lefty starters John Means and Keegan Akin, who has an impressive, high-spin fastball, and Anthony Santander, an extra-base machine and an excellent right fielder. They have a terrific lefty in the bullpen in Tanner Scott, who's got a really good fastball and a tight slider. But there's no way around it: They're in for several more lean years before they can make noise in this division."

 

Beyond the Box Score

 

Going Long Cedric Mullins is one of the shortest players in the organization at 5'8", but he also produced the longest home run hit by an Oriole last season. Mullins drove a pitch from Yankees righthander Michael King an estimated 427 feet during a Sept. 4 game at Camden Yards.

 

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Making History The new rule placing a runner on second base in extra innings made Mullins part of baseball history. He threw out Tampa Bay's Ji-Man Choi, trying to advance to third base on a fly ball, in an Aug. 1 game at Camden Yards for the first-ever double play to begin an inning.

 

Be Aggressive The Orioles promoted attacking the first pitch rather than falling into unfavorable counts. And it showed in a .409 team average on 0-0 counts that led the majors. Their 1.089 OPS on the first pitch ranked second in the AL.

 

Hope fades First baseman Chris Davis, a colossal bust since receiving a franchise-record $161 million contract in January 2016, hit .409/.559/.909 (9-for-22) with two doubles, three home runs, nine RBIs, and 10 walks in 12 exhibition games. Hopes were high. But he went on the injured list twice during the season with left knee tendinitis, appeared in only 16 games, and was 6-for-52 (.115) with one RBI.

 

Homegrown Lefthander Bruce Zimmermann became the 12th Marylander to start for the Orioles with his major league debut on Sept. 17 against the Rays. Zimmermann is a Baltimore native who joined Evan Phillips, Dave Johnson, Steve Johnson, Ryan Meisinger, Tom Phoebus, Steve Barber, Jack Fisher, Dave Boswell, Bruce Howard, John Miller, and Ray Moore on the list of locals.

 

Fun and Games A mid-July intrasquad game set up during summer training camp led to a pair of unfortunate injuries for the Orioles. Infielder Richie Martin, a former Rule 5 shortstop competing for a utility job, missed the entire season after fracturing a bone in his right wrist while diving back into first base to avoid a pickoff. Reliever Dillon Tate began the season on the IL after a Pat Valaika comebacker struck his right elbow. These two quirky mishaps severely impacted the roster.

 

Late Heroics Pat Valaika was a valuable player, making starts at all four infield positions and in left field. He also made an appearance in right. He was a true super-utility guy, but he also was underrated in the clutch. Seven of Valaika's eight home runs last season came in the seventh inning or later, tied for most in the majors.

 

Projected Lineup

 

LINEUP

CF     Cedric Mullins (S)

RF     Anthony Santander (S)

DH    Trey Mancini (R)

1B     Ryan Mountcastle (R)

LF     Austin Hays (R)

C      Pedro Severino (R)

3B     Rio Ruiz (L)

SS     Freddy Galvis (S)

2B     Yomler Sanchez (S)

 

BENCH

C      Chance Cisco (L)

1B    Chris Davis (L)

OF    DJ Stewart (L)

INF   Pat Valaika (R)

INF   Richie Martin (R)

 

ROTATION

LHP    John Means

LHP    Keegan Akin

RHP    Dean Kremer

RHP    Jorge Lopez

LHP    Bruce Zimmerman

 

BULLPEN

RHP    Hunter Harvey (C)

LHP    Tanner Scott

LHP    Paul Fry

RHP    Dillon Tate

RHP    Shawn Armstrong

RHP    Travis Lakins Sr.

RHP    Cesar Valdez

 

2021 Prediction: 5th in AL East

 

(John Means photo courtesy of @BirdlandInsider)

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