We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2013 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2013 Orioles Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy Daniel Moroz from Camden Crazies.
1) Jason Hammel was a nice free agent surprise for fantasy owners in 2012 as he put up 113 strikeouts in 118 innings last year around a knee injury. Now that he should be 100%, what are your expectations of him? Could he replicate his success last year but over 180 innings for 2013?
Hammel has never reached 180 Major League innings in a season before, so I wouldn’t bet on him to start now. Three years in the 170s before 2012 means he could approach that level, certainly, but it might be safer to expect 160 or so (he is another year older, after all). On a rate basis, 2012 probably a career year for Hammel. If he keeps using the two-seamer next year he should be able to suppress the long-ball well enough (and his walk rates was relatively normal last year), but his jump in strike-outs came along with career best velocity marks. Replicating that seems unlikely (if possible), but I wouldn’t necessarily expect him to fall all the way back to his career mark (from 8.6 K/9 to 6.7 K/9). I don’t think Hammel’s the same guy he used to be, and with his new repertoire he could be a solidly above average starter (if not a #1 or #2 guy on a fantasy staff).
2) Chris Davis finished in the top 10 in the AL in two major stats: HRs with 33 and K% at 30.1%. In fact, of the people last season with a K% over 30%, Davis was the only player to hit above .250 as he hit a robust .270. Do you think his batting average can be sustained or do you expect to see some regression from Davis in 2013?
Probably some regression, but maybe not a huge amount. Though Davis K’s a ton, he’s consistently posted strong BABIPs (last year’s .335 was exactly matches his career mark). If his home run totals fall off a bit (his HR/FB rate was a career best 25%), then that’ll drag his batting average down some, but the dude is strong and hits the ball awfully hard. As down as I was on Davis heading into 2012, if all you’re looking for is home runs and a batting average that won’t completely kill you, I think he can provide that in 2013. There is potentially more downside risk than upside risk if opposing pitchers figure him after his full season, but it may be worth noting that he did pick things up in the second half of last year.
3) Manny Machado is exciting to us fantasy baseballers because he’s a great young prospect and having a short MLB track record allows for us to dream big. In fact, we have already gone out and said we like him with a Manny Machado sleeper post. What are your expectations for Manny and should we be looking to draft him in 2013?
As exciting of a prospect as Machado is, he’s still only 20 years old and a decent amount of his actual value right now is going to be with the glove. Though he did have some nice plate appearances in the Majors last year and showed solid plate discipline in the Minors, I’d expect some growing pains if he’s the O’s starter at third-base in 2013 (as looks likely). A Hanley Ramirez is something nice to dream on, he’s probably still a ways away from that level. Maybe repeating his 2012 MLB line with a few more walks and a little less pop (more 15+ homers than the 20+ his numbers would pro-rate out to). Perhaps a few steals, but I wouldn’t go overboard there given that the Orioles were dead last in the Majors in stolen bases last year (and they attempted fewer thefts than 25 teams had successful steals).
4) Keeping with the theme of great prospects, we’re excited about Dylan Bundy this year as well. We think he could be up as early as June and will be fantasy relevant almost immediately. Is this an unreasonable mindset to have? What do you expect from Dylan Bundy for the 2013 season?
If the Orioles are sitting where I’d expect them to be in the standings (5th place; maybe 4th if one of the other AL East teams bombs), then pushing Bundy to the big leagues might not seem as necessary (especially with the extensions Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette got, and them not being desperate to keep their jobs). If Bundy’s absolutely tearing it up in the Minors and a rotation spot is open, perhaps we see him mid-season. More likely though, I’d expect maybe he gets a cup of coffee later in the year as a precursor to 2014. As is, the O’s have a number of other young pitchers that they might want to cycle through the rotation first, to see if they’ll stick longer term (Chris Tillman, Zach Britton, Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz, and Steven Johnson should probably all get plenty of starts). Whenever he arrives, as good of a prospect as Bundy is, expecting a pitcher to come up and pitch exceptionally well in the AL East is asking a whole lot.
5) Baltimore made the playoffs in 2012 despite having an extremely narrow run differential of +7. Looking forward to 2013, what’s the most likely headline we’ll see about this Orioles team?
A) Jake Arrietta shakes the unlucky pitching label (6.20 ERA in 2012 with a 3.65 xFIP in 2012) and becomes a solid #2 pitcher for the Orioles?
B) Brian Roberts – who has played in only 115 games since 2009 – plays in 140 or more games this year? And can you say yes to this without laughing?
C) Adam Jones has an even bigger season in 2013 and gets into the top 3 for AL MVP voting?
D) Buck Showalter shows off his mad scientist skills, frankensteining McClouth & Reimold into one player. Nolanate Reimclouth goes on to hit 25 HRs and steal 20 bases and makes the All-Star team.
E) After a rough start to the year, the Orioles have Ray Lewis guest coach for a while and Matt Wieters begins to do the Ray Lewis dance before every home game, leading Baltimore to a second half surge into the playoffs.
I still have faith in Arrieta, and he could certainly be the O’s #2 pitcher (or even #1 if Hammel takes a step back). That said, while some of his 2012 issues are probably partially (or mostly) bad luck – .320 BABIP, 14.5% HR/FB rate, 57% LOB rate which was the lowest in the Majors – he did struggle mightily with men on base. If that works itself out than he’s an average (or better) starter. I think this is the most likely of the offered potential headlines.
Laughter is definitely not the right emotional cue for his question. I stopped counting on Roberts again going into 2012, and that we was even able to take the field last year impressed me (his presence much more so than his performance). Even if he could play 40 games (which I doubt, let alone 140), I’m not sure he’s good enough at this point to merit it (in those 115 games, he hit just .244/.308/.340). Really unfortunate string of events for Roberts and the Orioles, but second-basemen going into their mid-30s aren’t exactly the most reliable group to begin with.
The Top 3 in the AL MVP voting is probably right out unless the O’s make the playoffs again (unlikely), even if Jones does improve upon his 2012 season. In most respects, he was the same guy he had been; the only real other issue is the power. Though his HR/FB was a career high, I don’t think it’s necessarily as much of a fluke as some people do. Even more so than the increase in home runs, Jones upped his doubles by around 50% over previous years – that indicates to me that we might not see a huge drop-off in the power department. I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t run quite as (as happens as players age), but there is the potential for some more RBI opportunities if Nick Markakis is back healthy batting above him in the line-up. And if he can actually maintain some semblance of plate discipline for more than a few games at a time, he really could improve some over 2012.
I’m a huge Nolan Reimold fan, and Nate McLouth certainly did well last year (in an Orioles uniform – he hit .140 before the Pirates let him go). If both guys are healthy (that’s a big if), I could see a top end of 25/20, sure. If it’s a straight platoon though, then McLouth (the lefty) is going to get most of the starts and that cuts into the power numbers some; maybe 20/20 would be better (or, more realistically, 17/15 or so). I’d be more inclined to just make Reimold the primary starter as long as he’s able, to see what he can do (at 29 years old, time for him to establish himself as a Major League starter is running out).
Maybe it’s not fair of me, but the hardest thing to picture in my mind from that scenario was actually Wieters doing the Ray Lewis dance.