2015 Baltimore Orioles Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
by Alan Matthews - 3/20/2015
Not to ruin the anticipation of reading my picks at the bottom of this story, but I expect very little from the Baltimore Orioles this season. Then again, I didn't expect a ton last year, either. All the Orioles did was win 96 games and their first AL East title since 1997. I didn't expect Baltimore to beat Detroit in the ALDS, that's for sure, since the Tigers had former Cy Young winners Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and David Price lined up to start the first three games. So of course the Orioles swept, although it was largely the Tigers' bullpen that failed, not those three.
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There's no question that Buck Showalter is one of the best managers in the game, and maybe he can get more out of his guys than anyone. Still, I don't think there's any question that of the six division winners from 2014 (Tigers, Angels, Nationals, Cardinals, Dodgers) that the Orioles took the biggest step back. They are easily the longest shots of that group to repeat.
Baltimore opens the season April 6 at division rival Tampa Bay.
Orioles 2015 Projected Lineup
Baltimore led the majors by a wide margin with 211 homers last year and finished eighth in runs. However, the biggest reason for that was Nelson Cruz, who led the majors with 40 homers and knocked in 108. Cruz was a steal on a one-year deal, but the Orioles didn't want to give him four years in order to re-sign. I actually don't blame them as that season was a bit fluky (and Cruz has a PED suspension in his past). Seattle did give Cruz four years so he walked. Obviously that's a huge loss. Gold Glove outfielder Nick Markakis (.276, 14 HRs, 50 RBIs) was another guy the Orioles wanted to bring back, but he left for Atlanta. So who did the Orioles get to replace those two? That's the thing: nobody really. The team is counting on healthy and bounce-back seasons from Chris Davis, Manny Machado and Matt Wieters.
The leadoff hitter likely will be left fielder Alejandro De Aza (.252, eight HRs, 41 RBIs), who really should be a fourth outfielder and not a starter. Markakis used to leadoff. Machado, who is without peer defensively at third base, likely hits second. The guy has all the talent in the world, but he might be a bit brittle. Either that or unlucky. Machado hit .278 with 12 dingers and 32 RBIs in 82 games before going down for the season. He's followed by Adam Jones (.281, 29 HRs, 96 RBIs), one of the 10 best all-around players in baseball.
One of the flukiest seasons in baseball this century, in my opinion, was what Chris Davis did in 2013 when he hit a big-league leading 53 homers with 138 RBIs and a .286 average. You heard rumors of PEDs and Davis was in fact suspended the end of last year for using amphetamines. He has one game to go. Davis, the cleanup hitter, batted just .196 and struck out 173 times in 127 games, although he did hit 26 bombs. He's not as bad as that but nowhere near the 2013 guy.
DH Steve Pearce (.293, 21 HRs, 49 RBIs) will hit sixth, followed by the catcher Wieters (.308, five HRs, 18 RBIs). His season was cut very short last year due to Tommy John surgery, which you rarely hear being performed on a non-pitcher. Wieters has been dealing with tendinitis in that elbow this spring and has been shut down from catching for about a week. Opening Day seems in jeopardy. He can become a free agent after this season like Davis.
The rest of the lineup: shortstop J.J. Hardy (.372, nine HRs, 52 RBIs), right fielder Travis Snider (.264, 13 HRs, 38 RBIs with Pittsburgh), the team's only major acquisition, and second baseman Jonathan Schoop (.244, 16 HRs, 45 RBIs).
Orioles 2015 Projected Rotation & Closer
Despite not having a true ace, the Birds were seventh in the majors in ERA last season, although just 25th in quality starts (the bullpen was excellent). The No. 1 is Chris Tillman 913-6, 3.34), who is still pretty underrated.
As of now it looks as if he will be followed by Wei-Yin Chen (16-6, 3.54), Bud Norris (15-8, 3.65), Miguel Gonzalez (10-9, 3.23) and young Kevin Gausman (7-7, 3.57). The question is what to do with Ubaldo Jimenez. He was the team's biggest free-agent signing last year and was, not surprisingly, a bust. Jimenez was 6-9 with a 4.81 ERA and booted from the rotation down the stretch. His contract is untradeable and the Orioles aren't just going to eat the $38 million or so left on it. So he might head to the bullpen, the team could go with six starters at times or an injury might solve the problem. Showalter hasn't announced his plans yet. As of this writing, Jimenez, has allowed 11 earned runs in 11 1/3 innings this spring (8.74 ERA).
The bullpen should again be a strength, led by closer Zach Britton (37 saves, 1.65 ERA). Stellar lefty set-up man Andrew Miller, acquired during last season, did leave as a free agent (Yankees).
Orioles Futures Odds & 2014 Trends
At Bovada , Baltimore is +3300 to win the World Series, +1400 to take the pennant, +350 for the AL East and has an "over/under" wins total of 82.5, with the over a -125 favorite. Davis is +1600 to hit the most homers in baseball and Jones is +5000. Jones is also +2500 to win AL MVP. The Orioles don't have a betting candidate for the Cy Young. At Sportsbook.ag, Davis is listed with a total of 30.5 homers and Jones 26.5. Tillman has a wins total of 11.5. The Orioles were 94-68 against the spread last season and 69-89-4 O/U. On the moneyline, they were +3477 units on the year.
Orioles 2015 Predictions
FanGraphs projects Baltimore to finish last in the AL East with a record of 79-83. I'm not sure the Orioles will finish last -- Tampa Bay might, especially with some pitching injuries this spring. But fourth sounds about right. Go under those wins. I like over on Davis, Jones and Tillman totals.
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