During the off season I wanted to have a look at the highs and lows of each individual major league team, and offer a forward glance of what the 2017 season might offer. This will be done alphabetically and by division, with an AL and NL team featured each week.
2016 Baltimore Orioles
Record: 89-73 (.549)
Tied with Toronto for the AL Wild Card on the last game of the regular season, then lost in a one-game postseason match up.
Zach Britton had a Cy Young caliber season as the Orioles’ closer, with 47 saves, and a remarkable 0.54 ERA through 67 innings. It was a star-making year for the 28-year-old. Likewise, pitchers Kevin Gausman and Chris Tillman were a strong one-two in the O’s starting rotation with a 3.61 and 3.77 ERA respectively. The hard hitting trifecta of Hardy, Machado, and Jones led the O’s to be the top home-run team in the majors. Making it to the Wild Card game was obviously a big deal, giving them their third playoff appearance in five years.
Though Gausman and Tillman were strong, the rest of the starting rotation including Jimenez, Gallardo, Wilson, Miley, and Wright all had ERAs over 5.00 and Miley was the worst of all with a nasty 6.17. Obviously the O’s will need to add depth to their starting rotation in the coming season if they want to be serious contenders. Dylan Bundy could fill this role for them, if he continues to show improvement, which he did throughout 2016. He’s not an ace, by any means, but he’s been rebuilding strength after Tommy John, and might be a pitcher to watch. Also, when it game to the must-win Wild Card game, fans were left scratching their heads with Buck Showalter‘s boggling decision to not use Britton.
The Orioles have one of the highest number of eligible free agents this postseason, with 9. They stand to lose designated hitter Pedro Alvarez; first baseman Steve Pearce; catcher Matt Wieters; outfielders Michael Bourn, Drew Stubbs, Nolan Reimold, and Mark Trumbo; and pitchers Brian Duensing and Tommy Hunter.
Clearly the Os will be in need of a power-hitting DH, especially if they lose both Alvarez, Wieters, and Trumbo. Last season the Orioles were the home-run leaders. While they maintain the strength of Chris Davis, Manny Machado, and Adam Jones, they’re going to need something to make up for losing a batch of decent hitters. It would be in their best interest to re-sign Wieters, or sign Trumbo and move him to the DH role (he’s basically garbage in the outfield), just to maintain one extra bat in their lineup. They also lack speed, so a strong lead-off hitter with some pep in his step would be a great target for the team (I’m looking at you, Dexter Fowler). If they look solely for a new DH they might want to turn to the Blue Jays free agent pool of Edwin Encarnacion or Jose Bautista, both would fit the need for a power hitter.
They’ll also want to look at adding a new starting pitcher. With a weak free agent market, there’s not a lot out there for them, but someone like Doug Fister or Derek Holland could be a good fit for the O’s, in rotation with Gausman, Tillman, and a rejuvenated Bundy. They also need Gallardo to bounce back, because 2016 was not a good year for him.