2018 Baltimore Orioles Expert Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
A couple of years ago the Orioles were pretty good, but they frustratingly mismanaged the pitching to the point that they have shot themselves in the foot. Again and again. Last year they were worse than expected, and the pitching was again to blame. This year they are taking a unique tactic to avoid the same thing - they have made their pitching so bad that they couldn't possibly screw it up by bad decision-making because there are no good decisions to be made.
It has to be frustrating for a fanbase when a team had a window they couldn't climb through, and now that window is gone, and it may not return for a long time. But how far down does this team sink? And will there still be any bright spots?
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Orioles 2018 Projected Lineup
All eyes are on Manny Machado, and that will likely be the case all season. He is the best player on the team and one of the best in the league. And he is a free agent after this season, and he's all but certain to head elsewhere. The Orioles flirted with trading him before the season but couldn't find a deal that they liked. So now they have him and could have him all year unless they trade him away for some value at some point. If he does stay in town all year it could be the saddest swan song ever as fans watch him post big numbers so that another team can sign him, and meanwhile his team can do little despite his success. Machado is moving back to shortstop after playing third base lately, which will be interesting to keep an eye on.
Machado is the biggest name with one foot out the door, but he's not the only one. Adam Jones, Jonathan Schoop and Mark Trumbo are heading towards free agency as well. It all will serve as a distraction this team doesn't need. It's quite possible that, if things go off the rails, the "for sale" sign will go up and everyone will any value will be available. That's really what they should do at this point.
Austin Hays is a guy to watch in the outfield. The youngster skipped over Triple-A to make his debut last year, and there is a lot of upside here. He has been banged up a bit this spring, and Colby Rasmus was signed to a minor league deal and could be used to start in right early on so Hays can start in Triple-A for a while, but the guy is a rare bright spot with a long-term future on this team right now. And I expect him to bring his bat to the majors sooner rather than later.
Chris Davis got a good break. The first baseman has had elbow issues this spring, but an MRI showed that there are no structural problems. Davis was just plain lousy at the plate last year, hitting just .215. He is clearly much better than that, though, and if he could prove it that would be a boost for a team that could really use one.
Orioles 2018 Projected Rotation and Closer
I would really struggle to hate a rotation more than this one. It has the dizzying mix of lack of talent and lack of upside that just makes me angry - and I'm not even an Orioles' fan at all. The issues with the team are summed up by two deals. To improve this rotation they added Andrew Cashner as a free agent and re-signed Chris Tillman. Tillman pitched 94 innings last year with a 7.84 ERA. He was just terrible. Cashner, meanwhile, has a 42-64 record. And though he is coming off his best season, it was a barely passable 11-11 year for the Rangers. There are definitely worse pitchers in the majors, but if you are signing a guy like him to bolster your rotation then you have real issues.
Dylan Bundy is probably viewed as the No. 1 starter, but he has work to do as he continues to develop. And Kevin Gausman is a guy who always finds his game in the second half but not before a weak first half has hurt his team. He was 11-12 last year and is 34-43 for his career - which feels like it pretty much exactly encapsulates who he is as a pitcher. And beyond that they will be trotting out some guys who probably aren't ready for the majors yet and some who never have been or never will be. The rotation is very likely to be a living train wreck.
Stud closer Zach Britton blew up his Achilles' and will miss the start of the season. It will be a closer by committee with guys like Darren O'Day, Brad Brach and Mychal Givens likely carrying some of the load. A closer won't be a huge factor with a rotation like this, though. O'Day and Britton are pending free agents, too. All in all, though, the bullpen is a relative strength for this team.
Orioles Futures Odds
The Orioles are in a large group of teams that each sit at +10000 to win the World Series at BetOnline . That only puts them ahead of five bad teams. And at +3300 to win the American League they are much closer to the bottom than the top. They are the longest shot on the board to win the AL East at +1600. The Yankees are favored at +100. The season win total sits at 73, with neither side having an edge in early betting. Manny Machado is in a large group of contenders tied in fifth place to win the home run crown at +2000. Chris Davis isn't far behind at +2800, with Mark Trumbo at +3300. Jonathan Schoop is a long shot in the race at +6600.
Orioles 2018 Predictions
I'm sure I haven't hidden the fact that I really don't like this team right now. They are in the ugly spot between fully committing to a rebuild and trying to compete - that spot where you manage to do neither. That leads to uncertainty and frustration for players and fans. They should be last in the AL East, and I would happily take the "under" on the season win total - a position which is helped by the possibility they could enter fire sale mode at some point.
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