Baseball is back and so are the Baltimore Orioles. In 2020, the Orioles placed fourth in the American League East with a 25-35 record, just above the Red Sox. Quite impressive as opposed to a typical last-place finish.
Will the Baltimore Orioles take the next step in their long, exhausting rebuild? Can player development take a step forward?
2020 Baltimore Orioles Season Recap
Despite being the MLB’s least-talented roster, the Baltimore Orioles managed to finish 25-35, placing fourth in the American League East. Although finishing fourth, there are some good things to look back on. The team outperformed expectations with a number of player surprises.
Despite a smaller sample size, O’s relief pitcher Tanner Scott took the next step in becoming a solid relief pitcher. In 2020, Scott pitched to an earned run average of 1.31 in 25 appearances. He struck out 23 batters in 20.2 innings, struck out 29.1 percent of his batters, and recorded a K/9 ratio of 10.0. Hitters batted .194 against Scott in 2020 and only reached base against him 29 percent of the time. He also finished third in WAR, which is impressive for a relief pitcher.
Youngster Anthony Santander took off. He hit .261 while crushing 11 home runs. His energy on the field helped the Orioles a lot. During their hot start, Santander often came up clutch, making defensive plays and getting clutch hits in crucial situations.
Rookie Ryan Mountcastle opened some eyes as well and ripped the cover off the ball for the entire summer. He hit .333 while crushing five home runs and driving in 23 runs batted in. Mountcastle also hit for a slugging percentage of .492 and recorded an on-base percentage of .386. He also showed flashes of being a good fielder as well. Mountcastle played a competently solid left field. In 2021, he’d hope to remain in the starting lineup.
All of the factors above allowed the Baltimore Orioles to push for the playoffs for the majority of the 2020 MLB season. Fans were in shock at how well the Orioles played. You could tell these players were having a ton of fun.
2021 Baltimore Orioles Preview
Mixing veterans and young players seemed to work well for losing teams like the Miami Marlins and Baltimore Orioles. Why not try it again?
The Orioles again took the conservative approach to free agency, either signing veterans to small deals or minor league contracts.
One of the more notable names they picked up was former New York Met Matt Harvey. The 31-year old Harvey, once a former All-Star and big-name pitcher, is clearly in the twilight of what could’ve been a great career. In 2020, Harvey pitched to an 0-3 record in seven games, while recording a horrendous earned run average of 11.57. Maybe with a bigger sample size that ERA irons out.
Another veteran free agent the O’s picked up was Felix Hernandez. After signing King Felix opted out of the 2020 MLB season in July. He last pitched in 2019 and it showed he was passed his prime. Hernandez recorded a 1-8 record with an ERA of 6.40. Although, the Mariners put him in a tough spot and wasted his entire career. Anyways, there could be a possibility of him being in the minors or being a back-end starter.
Freddy Galvis is also another veteran that the Orioles added. In 2020 with the Reds, he hit .220 while crushing seven home runs and 16 runs batted in, which is typical for Galvis.
Again, the Orioles went to sign some old veterans that will hopefully mentor the youngsters.
Where Will The Orioles Finish?
I think that the Orioles will take a step up once again this season and the progress will show over a long period of time. Player development will take the next step and I think the O’s will overachieve again.
I believe that the Baltimore Orioles will finish fourth or fifth in the division since the Rays still have their young nucleus and the Blue Jays added more solid free agents. The O’s will compete with the Red Sox for fourth or fifth. But that doesn’t mean the Orioles can’t overachieve and the young players can evolve.
Hopefully, there is a bright future for the Orioles ahead.