Welcome to the 2017 Razzball Team Previews! You’ll find everything you need to know about each team to get yourself ready for the upcoming fantasy baseball season. And I do mean everything, everybody. We’ve got line-ups, charts, numbers, projections, questionable questions, smarter answer, potent potables and well, that’s a lie. No potables here, but plenty of potent fantasy names brimming with potential. Now’s the time to be an eternal optimist for the next two months.
A quick note on the format. Each preview will feature six questions to a team’s blog writer. Are there only six great fantasy questions for each team? Of course not, but THAT’S WHAT THE COMMENTS ARE FOR! So, enjoy the thoughts of another writer, the dialogue on each team, and then continue the conversation in the comments!
Now, we have a very special guest for this post, Chris Booze, to provide his take on what the team has in store this season. Now enough rambling, let’s see what 2017 holds for the Baltimore Orioles!
2017 Baltimore Orioles Depth Chart & Projections
|1||RF||Hyun Soo Kim||382||56||12||47||5||0.282||0.781|
Note: Projections provided by Steamer.
M@: One of my favorite players to watch and to own in fantasy is Adam Jones. As the mainstay on this Orioles team he’s seen them fully reverse course from a struggling AL East squad behind the perennial favorites to a perennial favorite themselves. However, it seems like the upswing in Orioles momentum has been contrasted by the downturn in Jones’. I know he struggled with injury last year, but a slow decline seems to be in progress for one of the most consistent fantasy assets of the last six years with his SLG% dropping to .436, his lowest mark since his rookie campaign in 2008.. Will 2017 see him improve upon his final line from last year (.265/86/29/83/2), or is regression coming like the winter?
Chris Booze: Jones is going to turn 32 this season, so he’s probably starting to decline at this point. That said, he struggled with injury throughout the 2016 season and still managed to hit 29 home runs in arguably the worst year of his Orioles career. He also hit the ball just as hard as the year before in terms of exit velocity, but he had the worst BABIP of his career – there’s some bad luck involved there. His .287/.334/.505 season from 2012 is probably out of reach at this point, but I think Jones will bounce back and put up numbers closer to what he did in 2014-2015.
M@: Help me sort out a small conundrum in my head. Have we seen the best of Manny Machado? It seems like a silly question considering he’s a 24 year old that now carries SS and 3B eligibility, but I wonder what his true ceiling is? In 2016 he improved upon every major statistical category from 2015 except for SB (20 to 0?!?) and OBP (.359 to .343), which is likely due to his drop in BB% to 6.9%. Now, those stats go counter to the question, but should we expect him to continue ascending above his 2016 numbers, or was that his true ceiling?
Chris Booze: I think we’re close to Machado’s ceiling. Young players are hitting their peak earlier in this era than they ever did before, and he was so good last year that I just don’t think it’s realistic to expect him to keep getting better. Most of the projection systems out there (ZIPS, Steamer, etc) have him putting up almost the exact same numbers as he did last year; that seems right to me. It’s hard to keep improving on MVP-caliber numbers.
M@: The starting rotation seems to be the culprit for the Orioles step back in 2016. Chris Tillman and Kevin Gausman were solid, but there were the only two SP to record over 100 IP with an ERA under 4.00. Right behind them, with a 4.02 ERA in 109 IP, stands Dylan Bundy. He showed incredible promise in spurts last season, vindicating the vaulted hype he received prior to arm injury a few years back. Baltimore needs their rotation to bounce back in a big way, but a step forward from Bundy may be the biggest catalyst to a strong 2017 for the club. Do they pull the kid gloves off him and unleash their potential ace to lead this rotation? Can he reach 150+ IP, and if he does, what’s a realistic stat line to expect?
Chris Booze: No one really knows how careful the O’s will be with Bundy this year, but I have a feeling they’ll take the kid gloves off. No one expected him to pitch 109 innings (or even start at all) last season, either. I just don’t see the O’s putting a hard cap on his innings if he keeps pitching well. As far as his stat line, the projections hate him for some reason. Most projections have his ERA north of 4.50, but I expect it would be closer to the 4.02 ERA he put up last year. He struck out nearly a batter per inning last year, and if you think coming out of the bullpen skewed that number, you’d be wrong – he actually had a higher K/9 once he moved to the rotation.
M@: Everyone loves getting an edge. As an expert on this team, give us some insider trading. Who is someone flying under the radar that will surprise us in 2017, making them an underrated option from Baltimore?
Chris Booze: Seth Smith was a great pickup for the O’s. He’ll probably sit nearly every game against lefties, but in the 100+ games he starts he should be a damn good hitter. He’s moving to a better hitter’s park and will hopefully bat near the top of the lineup since he’s one of the few Orioles who actually can take a walk. Batting in front of guys like Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo should help him see good pitches to hit and score plenty of runs.
M@: Now on the flip side, who is someone on this roster that everyone may be targeting but is an overrated option just waiting to disappoint us?
Chris Booze: I’m worried about Chris Tillman. He struggled with injury and ineffectiveness toward the end of last season, and now he’s likely to miss at least his first start with shoulder discomfort. The O’s are acting like it’s no big deal, and maybe it isn’t, but this could be the type of nagging injury that keeps a player out longer than expected or keeps him from pitching to his full ability.
M@: Let’s time travel. At the end of 2017 what will this team’s final record be, and how will we remember their year?
Chris Booze: The O’s have basically the same team as last year. That team got to 89 wins behind an insanely good bullpen and career years from a few players like Mark Trumbo. There should be some regression there, but bounce-back years from guys like Chris Davis and Darren O’Day can hopefully balance that out. To me, the Vegas line of 84.5 wins feels about right. I’ll say 84-78. It’ll be a season similar to 2013, when the O’s were good but not quite good enough.