Owner: Peter Angelos, worth $2 billion
World Series Titles: 1966, 1970, 1983
Greatest Player: SS Cal Ripken Jr.
Division: AL East
Payroll: 29th, $63,000,000
2022 Result: 83-79, 4th place in AL East
General Manager: Mike Elias
Manager: Brandon Hyde, 49; Record: 214-333, 0 World Series Titles
Home Field: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Capacity: 45,971
Key Addition: SP Cole Irvin. Look, the Baltimore Orioles don’t consider themselves in prime position to pay…anybody. Subsequently, their most important addition from this offseason isn’t a big name to protect Adley Rutschman or a star to mentor their best pitching prospects. It’s Cole Irvin, a breakout candidate in the middle of their rotation. Irvin won’t walk many, but struggled to limit contact and barrels in 2022. Some feel that he is a tinker or two away from becoming legit, and on a team with as little high-end pitching talent as Baltimore, that could come up big.
Key Loss: RP Jorge López. The Orioles didn’t lose anyone of note in free agency, but they did trade away López at the trade deadline. They missed him, despite Félix Bautista blossoming into an elite reliever. They didn’t adequately patch up the hole he left when he got moved, and the bullpen is decidedly not the strength of this team.
Key Injury: SP John Means. The prospect ace of the Orioles, John Means saw his 2022 fall by the wayside to Tommy John. He’s likely out until July, meaning Baltimore’s young prospects will need to stand out early on. Missing out on an important innings eater and a veteran with actual upside could burn a Baltimore squad employing what seems like four different fifth starters.
Prospect Alert: SP Grayson Rodriguez. There’s a saying around prospect circles that there is no such thing as a pitching prospect. The mechanics are too fragile, the injuries are too frequent, and performance is as free as the breeze, flowing indiscriminately. Rodriguez is no exception, but the hype is warranted. He may be the best pitching prospect in baseball if you choose to believe that such things exist. If anyone is going to step up and be the ace of this staff, it’s him.
Scouting Report: Last year, the Orioles had their best season in years, catapulting themselves to the land of over .500 baseball teams. This year is all about an extended stay. One’s first glance at their depth chart may not inspire much optimism.
Rutschman leads a lineup that scored the 20th-most runs last season. He’s joined by Gunnar Henderson, a fellow top prospect. Both have flashed elite potential and by almost every observable means are on the right track to excellence. In this regard, the future is bright. However, the Orioles’ present can stand to let a little light in. They’ve got about three respectable MLB bats filling out the other seven spots in the lineup.
I love Bautista’s game, but the rest of the bullpen is strictly mediocre. Thankfully, Baltimore has their fair share of innings eaters, but pitching remains a concern. Rodriguez feels like the only one with a realistic shot at setting himself apart. The majority of this staff, and roster, is an amalgamation of low-ceiling players. That won’t play in the fierce AL East.
What could change that tune, though, is their incredible farm system. DL Hall retains a ton of fans in the organization despite struggles at the professional level last season. Joey Ortiz has the hit tool and defense to stick somewhere in the middle infield and Colton Cowser has one of the sweeter lefty swings in the sport. There is high-end talent and depth to this farm system, providing the O’s with ample trade value, too.
Over/Under Wins: 78, 4th place in AL East
BetBasics Best Bet: There are a lot of variables surrounding this Orioles campaign that makes me hesitate to bet on either side of their 76.5 projected wins (-120 on the over, +100 on the under). Last year’s absurd hot streak feels somewhat fluky, but their young core and elite farm system could kick open the door we’ve anticipated them knocking on soon enough.
The first futures selection that sticks out to me is Cedric Mullins to lead the league in stolen bases. At +800, this is both a lucrative line and a realistic one. Of the three players with better odds, Mullins falls behind only Ronald Acuna Jr. (+600) offensively. Adalberto Mondesi’s playing time is not a lock as the season progresses, and Esteury Ruiz simply won’t hit enough to live up to his stolen base expectations.
Also, Henderson is the current favorite to win American League Rookie of the Year (+300). Typically I don’t look forward to betting on preseason favorites for specific awards, but I’m all in on this kid. He’s a savant in the box with the contact and pop to generate legitimate excitement. Henderson plays exceptional defense, runs as well as Mullins, and won’t suffer from the uphill media battle lesser-known prospects will face.