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Baltimore Orioles 2022: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Cedric Mullins, Baltimore Orioles

All-Star center fielder Cedric Mullins and the Orioles look to take a step forward after winning just 52 games last season

The rebuild in Baltimore has entered its fourth year under new management, although 2020 felt like a waste with the minor league season canceled due to COVID-19. The Orioles aren't any closer to contending as they wait to make the first overall selection in the amateur draft. They're undermanned in baseball's toughest division, especially in the rotation, which let too many games get out of hand. The only bright spots in 2022 should come courtesy of a small handful of returnees coming off impressive seasons and the influx of top prospects. Catcher Adley Rutschman will debut this season, and others in the organization's top 10 should join him. Fans will at least have a reason to watch while the losses pile up again.

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Orioles

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"At some point, the Mike Elias regime is going to have to deliver, but it won't be this year because the Orioles are hopeless again. Elias is so focused on the draft and player development that it feels like the big league roster is an afterthought; they've been bad for a while, and they're still a long way from fielding a competitive roster. Their staff of placeholders just has no chance in the AL East, and the environment has to be discouraging for young players. It's such a beautiful ballpark, but the games there feel like instructional league. They are getting stronger up the middle, though, with Cedric Mullins in center and Adley Rutschman on the way at catcher. Ryan Mountcastle and Trey Mancini have real power, and Austin Hays is a blue-collar player, but there's not a lot of long-term, high-impact bats that I can see. I'm looking forward to seeing Grayson Rodriguez at some point — he's supposed to be an ace in waiting — but until he gets there, there's nothing to excite you about the pitching staff unless John Means is out there with his changeup working."

Beyond the Box Score

Bedeviled by the Rays Paul Fry went from a reliable high-leverage reliever in 2020 to demoted in 2021, sent to Triple-A Norfolk on Aug. 29 and staying in the minors. The lefthander posted a 1.78 ERA in his first 26 outings and an 11.05 ERA in the next 26. But most of the damage came against the Rays. His ERA was 34.71 against them in nine games and 2.95 versus everyone else. The Rays hit .400 against him with a 1.465 OPS. They saw something that others were missing.

Baltimore Orioles 2022 Baseball Cover

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Three-peat The Orioles had a player hit multiple home runs in three consecutive games to tie the club record. Cedric Mullins did it on June 18, Mullins and Ryan Mountcastle on June 19 and Trey Mancini on June 20. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, the three straight games matched the record held by Cal Ripken Jr., Albert Belle and Brady Anderson in 1999 and Doug DeCinces, Terry Crowley and DeCinces again in 1981. The Orioles' 17 individual multi-homer games in 2021 tied for third in the majors.

30/30 Mullins became the first player in Orioles history with 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in the same season. No other player in the majors did it last season. Mullins became the first player in the majors with a 30/30 season since Christian Yelich and Ronald Acuña Jr. in 2019 and the first in the AL since Mookie Betts and José Ramírez in 2018. He's the first center fielder, playing at least 75 percent of his games at the position, to do it since Mike Trout in 2012.

At a loss The Orioles lost 19 games in a row from Aug. 3-24, the second-longest streak in club history behind the 1988 team that dropped its first 21. It was the longest losing streak in the majors last season and longest since the Royals also dropped 19 straight from July 28-Aug. 19, 2005.

Run of futility The Orioles allowed nine or more runs in six consecutive games from Aug. 3-10 to set a franchise record. They were outscored 63–23 during that span. The MLB record is seven by the 1901 New York Giants and 2000 Mariners.

What a relief Reliever Tyler Wells was the second pitcher chosen by the Orioles in the Dec. 2020 Rule 5 draft, and he made it through the entire season, aside from two stints on the injured list, taking on the closer role later in the summer. Opponents hit .167 against him after July 19, a span of 15 games. His .192 average against is the second-lowest mark by a rookie, minimum 40 games, in club history behind Gregg Olson (.188 in 1989). It ranked fifth among all rookie relievers in the majors last season.

Projected Lineup

LINEUP

CF   Cedric Mullins (L)
LF    Austin Hays (R)
DH  Trey Mancini (R)
1B    Ryan Mountcastle (R)
RF    Anthony Santander (S)
2B    Rougned Odor (L)
SS    Ramón Urías (R)
3B    Kelvin Gutiérrez (R)
C     Jacob Nottingham (R)

BENCH

C     Anthony Bemboom (L)
UT   Jorge Mateo (R)
OF   DJ Stewart (L)
OF   Ryan McKenna (R)

ROTATION

LHP   John Means
RHP   Jordan Lyles
LHP   Bruce Zimmermann
LHP   Keegan Akin
RHP   Dean Kremer

BULLPEN

RHP   Tyler Wells (C)
LHP   Paul Fry
RHP   Dillon Tate
RHP   Jorge López
RHP   Joey Krehbiel
LHP   Cionel Pérez
RHP   Bryan Baker
RHP   Felix Bautista

2022 Prediction: 5th in AL East