2016 Fantasy Baseball: Baltimore Orioles Team Preview
From a fantasy perspective, the Orioles are an exciting bunch. They feature plenty of fantasy options in the lineup and one of the game’s top fantasy closers. The rotation leaves a bit to be desired as it has for the past few years, but let’s delve into the Orioles starting off with the lineup.
Catcher: Matt Wieters
First base: Chris Davis
Second base: Jonathan Schoop
Third base: Manny Machado
Shortstop: J.J. Hardy
Left field: Hyun-soo Kim
Center field: Adam Jones
Right field: Mark Trumbo
Designated hitter: Jimmy Paredes
The lineup for the Orioles is a bit fluid with both Trumbo and Davis being able to play first base and right field, as well as spot in at designated hitter. I have been an advocate of and am somewhat surprised that they have not signed Pedro Alvarez yet to fill in at designated hitter, though that would limit some of the team’s defensive options.
Regardless, the top offensive players on this squad are megastar Manny Machado, consistent Adam Jones, and certified slugger Chris Davis. Outside of their top three, they do have some interesting later round guys in Jonathan Schoop, Mark Trumbo, and Hyun-soo Kim.
Of those latter three, Trumbo is the most interesting to me. He will be in a great park and in the best lineup he has been in. If he is hitting directly behind Jones and Davis he should get plenty of RBI opportunities and his positional flexibility makes him even more attractive. Trumbo is going around pick 180 right now in standard leagues and I think that is a guy to target who could potentially outperform his draft position.
Schoop is another interesting bat, especially in average only leagues. He has pretty awful plate discipline numbers (2.8% walk rate and 24.6% strikeout rate) but has a lot of power for the position and hit .279 last year. He has hit 16 and 15 home runs in each of the past two seasons with last year being in just 86 games played, which shows how much power potential he has. He is a limited offensive player because of his poor plate discipline numbers, but at age 24 he may just be starting to reach his power peak and could be a 20 home run bat from the middle infield which is quite rare these days. He is 4-4 in stolen base attempts in his career, so he does not run much but hopefully he could add a few more there if he is able to be efficient on the basepaths.
- Yovani Gallardo
- Ubaldo Jimenez
- Chris Tillman
- Miguel Gonzalez
- Kevin Gausman
None of the Orioles starters are too attractive from a fantasy perspective. Gausman is the only player going in the top 250 of drafts. Of the five, he is the only one I would want on my fantasy roster due to his solid strikeout numbers and strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.55. His ERA was above 4.00 last year as he allowed as many home runs as he had games started last year (17) but he does have some upside potential and could be worth a gamble that late in the draft. Gallardo, Tillman, and Gonzalez just do not strike out enough batters and Jimenez is far too inconsistent to be relied upon in standard formats.
The back end combination of Zach Britton and Darren O’Day is back again after O’Day opted to rejoin the O’s this winter, which is great news both for the Orioles and Britton owners. Getting leads to Britton will be much easier with O’Day in the eighth rather than the alternatives that would have been there if he signed elsewhere. Britton was dominant in 65 innings last year with a ton of strikeouts, an 80% ground ball rate, and very low walk rate. There are not many more reliable closers in the game and he is certainly someone to target if you are going for closers early, which is a very good strategy to add strikeouts and improve rate stats.
There are not too many prospects on the cusp for the Orioles. The most intriguing name is the same intriguing name that has been there for years now in Dylan Bundy. Bundy has been ravaged by injuries over the past few years but there is a lot of uncertainty and not much of a need to pay for his upside at this point. There is a chance he starts off in the bullpen and works his way into the rotation, but wait and see if Bundy is healthy and if a rotation spot opens up before investing in him. A few others to keep an eye on for this year are catcher Chase Sisco who is a catcher in the upper minors, and a pair of first basemen in the upper minors in Christian Walker and Trey Mancini.