There were a lot of surprises coming out of Baltimore in 2012, whether it was Nick Markakis being relevant for the first time in a while, Adam Jones’ breakout year, Manny Machado’s arrival, or the team making the playoffs.
We knew that it would only be a matter of time before Buck Showalter had this team competing on a consistent basis.
He’s been able to balance out the mix of veterans and rising contributors, in order to build a contender, as they look to make a statement in the toughest division in baseball.
The first major upgrade that the Orioles made was boosting their pitching staff.
Jim Johnson was the biggest asset, in his fist season as Baltimore’s full time closer.
He converted a career-high 51 saves in 2012, ranking as one of the elite options in fantasy.
The rotation was another story.
It took a while for the Orioles to find the right combination of arms and place everyone in the proper order.
Jason Hammel wasn’t exactly the ideal ace, coming over from Colorado, but the Orioles were able to make the post season without a solidified ace.
Wei-Yin Chen was one of the best acquisitions of the previous offseason, winning 12 games in his first MLB season.
Baltimore has a set of rising assets in Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez, as they proved to be viable options down the stretch.
The one head-scratcher has to be the addition of former Braves starter Jair Jurrjens.
He was once highly thought on in fantasy discussions, but has been on a rough decline for the past three seasons.
The Orioles lineup is one facet of the team that doesn’t need that much improving.
They got a late spark from rookie third baseman Manny Machado in the second half of the season, homering in his first three games.
He was a .262 hitter in his 51 game appearances, looking to become one the next rising stars in the league with a full season of action.
The Orioles know that they have a tall task in 2012, taking on the ever-improving AL East, but they are no longer a team to be overlooked…
ORIOLES PROJECTED LINEUP
1. Nate McLouth LF He’s only had one season where he hit above .250, look elsewhere
2. Manny Machado 3B Broke onto the scene late in 2012 after being called up for the playoff run, one of the rising stars in fantasy, should be targeted in the middle-late rounds
3. Nick Markakis RF Was one of the hottest players out of the gate in 2012, only hit 13 home runs, but was still a productive contributor during the rest of the season
4. Adam Jones CF Coming off career-highs in every category, he’s elevated his game to being a top 10 OF, should be targeted early in your draft
5. Matt Wieters C Back-to-back seasons of 20+ home runs, lackluster batting average, but can generate runs and rbi’s to make up for it. He’s a top 10 catcher on draft day.
6. JJ Hardy SS Reports are that he is being moved out of the second spot in the lineup, decreasing his value. He has a weak average, but can hit 20+ home runs. Second tier SS option to draft.
7. Chris Davis 1B Clobbered 33 home runs, while sustaining a .270 AVG. Underrated option that you can get late in the draft to fill your utility spot.
8. Wilson Betemit DH Nothing more than a DH option, look elsewhere
9. Brian Roberts 2B Hasn’t been healthy since 2009, but is an elite 2B whenever he’s on the field. Could be this year’s Markakis.
1. Jason Hammel Injuries ruined the end of his 2012 season, not an ace, but a decent late round option
2. Wei-Yin Chen Went from 7-5 to, ending the season on 5-6. A solid option that looks to improve in his second full MLB season.
3. Chris Tillman Went 9-3 in 15 games last season, sported a 2.93 ERA, and was a viable game-manager. Late round selection with a lot of upside going into his first full MLB season.
4. Miguel Gonzalez Went 9-4 in 18 games, with a 3.25 ERA in his first major-league action. Late round watchlist candidate.
5. Jair Jurrjens He’s searching for a fresh start, but you shouldn’t gamble on him until after the draft.
Chris Tillman was Baltimore’s no.2 prospect, behind Matt Wieters, before he was called up for the tail-end of the 2012 season. He was able to produce a 9-3 record in 15 starts, sporting a 2.93 ERA. He’s slated to be the third option in the Orioles’ rotation, but has the potential to be the missing ace of this staff. He has the ability to maintain a high strikeout ratio, can use a balance arsenal of pitches, and has the durability to go deep into games. Tillman is another young star on the rise that can be targeted late in the draft, because of a lot of owners are not thinking about taking him.
Manny Machado is one of the top rising stars going into this fantasy baseball season. Keep in mind that he’s still learning how to play third base, but that has nothing to do with his hitting. He was a .262 hitter in his debut season, but has the ability to get up to .280-.300. He won’t sustain those number this year, but has the potential to be a key contributor for you this season that you can draft late. He’s not someone to reach for, but he’ll be a great late option. There are talks that Machado could hit second in the lineup, which would boost his value as a run producer. Keep in mind that his true potential might not hit until around June.