Beyond the continued absences of Hardy and Wieters, and the recent injury to Schoop – nothing that has happened in the Orioles first 18 games has directly altered my expectations for the roster as a whole.
That said, I thought it would be interesting to look at several O’s players individually and see if their early play has changed what I think we can expect from them this season. You can play along, as we will set overs and unders for the players for the year as a whole.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
2014 Season: 159 games, .281 baa, 29 hr’s, 96 rbi, 19 bb’s, 133 k’s, .780 OPS
General 2015 Expectation Prior to Opening Day: Jones entered 2015 with 4 straight seasons of 151+ games, with his OPS being between .780 and .839 each year. Offensively, more of the same was anticipated. The variable was his defense according to the metrics. Last year his Defensive Runs Saved, and UZR/150 numbers were positive for the first time since 2008. Seemingly the consensus was that if you were to believe there was a change in Jones’ OF play, it was due to a change in positioning. That jump in his defensive numbers, saw his overall value spike to a career high according to fWAR (5.5).
2015 To Date: 18 games, .412 baa, 5 hr’s, 16 rbi, 4 bb’s, 8 k’s, 1.188 OPS
Thoughts: Jones is off to a great start. He’s had great Months before – he had an OPS over 1.000 just last June. I think it is possible that we see Jones improve that 19 bb to 133 k ratio from last year, but I’m going to need to see more than a Month to really buy into that.
Over / Under on Jones finishing with an OPS of .850 or higher: I’ll take the under. This could be the start of a new career high for Jones, but my current guess is that it is a hot month which will be balanced out by a prolonged cold spell at some point. That said, how great would it be to see the O’s leader put together a true MVP caliber season? If he’s still crushing at the end of May, we can start to have those conversations.
2014 Season: 127 games, .196 baa, 26 hr’s, 72 rbi, 60 bb’s, 173 k’s, .704 OPS
General 2015 Expectation Prior to Opening Day: Davis’ 2012 season was solid. His 2013 was MVP caliber. 2014 was horrific. Going into the year, I expected that Davis would rebound, and post numbers somewhere between ’12 and ’13.
2015 Season To Date: 17 games, .242 baa, 3 hr’s, 10 rbi, 6 bb’s, 27 k’s, .771 OPS
Thoughts: The start of ’15 has mostly been a struggle for Davis, but his numbers are still improved vs. ’14. That again indicates just how brutal last year was for him, and gives some optimism that Davis could really boost his numbers once he warms up. 27 k’s in 62 ab’s is insane. Just too many ab’s where he has struggled to make contact on pitches from the middle in. He’s done a better job vs. last year at going with pitches on the outer-half when he has had the opportunity. I don’t think he has lost bat speed. I just think he is a guy that could not consistently hit a beach ball when going poorly. How many times during the early going have we seen him completely pull his head off the ball? I expect we see him lock in at some point, and his BB% will jump.
Over / Under on Davis finishing with 63 Extra Base Hits: I’ll take the over. During ’12 and ’13, Davis averaged 74.5 extra base hits. Currently, Davis is slugging just .452 with 7 xbh’s, which has him on a 63xbh pace. As I think he will warm up vs. what we’ve seen to-date, I have to think he will exceed the current projection.
2014 Season: 102 games, .293 baa, 21 hr’s, 49 rbi, 40 bb’s, 76 k’s, .929 OPS
General 2015 Expectation Prior to Opening Day: Pearce has always worn out lefties. What impressed last year, was that he also produced against RHP. I had some worry about depending on a guy that had a breakout season at Age 31, but also thought Pearce would give the O’s something positive even if he didn’t quite match his 2014 highs.
2015 Season To Date: 14 games, .167 baa, 2 hr’s, 4 rbi, 5 bb’s, 13 k’s, .551 OPS
Thoughts: It has been a poor 48 ab’s, but it’s just 48 ab’s. I think he needs to play pretty much everyday, and I’m a bit surprised by his recent usage – unless there is an undisclosed injury. He’s been in 14 games overall, but his last 3 games played have been him entering as a pinch hitter.
Over / Under on Pearce finishing with 450 ab’s, and a .775 OPS: I’ll go over. His versatility should provide him plenty of ab’s, and Pearce can hit. I don’t see him as the .900+ OPS guy he was last year, but I do see him as a guy that can add depth to a lineup.
2014 Season: 82 games, .278 baa, 12 hr’s, 32 rbi, 20 bb’s, 68 k’s, .755 OPS
General 2015 Expectations Prior to Opening Day: During the Winter, I stated several times that I expected his offense take a leap production wise with gains in both his on-base %, and slugging %. I looked for his LD%, and ISO to increase, and for his K% to decrease. I expected his defense to be back at Platinum levels as well.
2015 Season To Date: 18 games, .238 baa, 3 hr’s, 11 rbi, 7 bb’s, 15 k’s, .730 OPS
Thoughts: On-base %, and Slugging % are both currently down vs. last year. LD% is also down, and K% is higher. Only the ISO is improved vs. last year right now. Glove wise, last night was a microcosm of his season as a whole. A great play, coupled with an error (his 4th). I don’t see any reason to back off the earlier predictions yet. In my opinion, he remains the O’s most talented overall player. I do think the O’s need him to raise his level of play.
Over / Under on Machado providing an fWAR at 4.5 and above: I’ll continue to take the over here. That throw last night, and some of the other earlier errors are mostly aberrations to me. He will go back to being the best defensive 3rd baseman in the game, and the offense will come around as well.
Bonus #1, O’s Starting Pitchers
Currently, the O’s starters have a 5.52 era, which is last in the game, 30th overall. In 2014, O’s starters had a 3.61 era, good for 12th best overall (5th in the AL). In the 2nd half, they were collectively down to 2.98.
Over/Under on O’s Starting Pitchers finishing with 4.01 era? The LA Dodgers starters are currently 13th overall in baseball with a 4.01 era. For the Orioles, that 3.61 starters era last year as a low, and 4.30 for a high, seems likely to me for their final numbers this season. I’ll take the under here for the O’s starters.
Bonus #2, O’s Final Record
The O’s won 96 games in 2014, their third straight year of finishing at above .500. To start 2015, the Birds are 8-10, in last place in the AL East.
Over/Under on the O’s Winning 85 games? I’ll take the over here. I think 3 teams in the East win 85+, and I continue to think the Orioles will win the Division. My thoughts on the East have not changed. Tampa Bay has a very capable rotation when healthy, and not enough offense over 162 games. NY has a recognizable lineup, and strong bullpen. They look more legitimate with Tanaka pitching well, and not on the shelf. While NY has the means to augment their roster, I see too much age overall. Toronto has a lot of everyday talent, but the loss of Stroman will be felt during the year, and they are currently relying on 6 rookies. Boston has a good lineup, and a rotation not quite as bad as described by many. Like NY, they certainly have the ability to go out and add other external pieces. Still, if the O’s can get Hardy and Wieters back by mid-May, and Schoop by June 1st; I think the Birds remain the most complete team in the division. I would expect the East winner to need 92 wins, and I’ll stay with that as the O’s predicted total.
What we’ve seen on the field by the O’s in 2015 is not good. The rotation has been horrible overall. The defense has not been up to expectations. There have been mental errors we have grown unaccustomed to seeing under Showalter.
I think if you get Hardy and Schoop back, the defense will be improved. Joseph’s defensive reputation is very strong right now due to the pitch framing numbers he had last year, and his success throwing as well. Still, he only has 90 or so games as a Major League catcher. This year, the throwing has not been good. It’s possible that Wieters (if he has the ability to throw like did prior to his injury) could also be a defensive upgrade.
So, ultimately we expect the defense and starting pitching to improve. Which makes sense, as they go hand-in-hand. With improved starting pitching, the bullpen will also figure to get better, as they get settle into roles.
Offensively, the O’s are 6th overall in runs scored, 2nd in slugging %, and 4th in on-base %. I don’t believe the on-base % is likely sustainable, but I do believe the O’s will finish in the upper 1/3 in runs scored, and do expect the O’s to be a Top 5 slugging offense.