David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

AL East Preview: Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles have been an above average team stuck in a difficult division the past few years. In 2012, the Orioles won 93 games and finished second in the division after the Boston Red Sox collapse under Bobby Valentine. They would go on to lose to the Yankees in the ALDS. That season introduced the world to the new and improved Baltimore Orioles. In 2013, they finished in third place in the AL East winning a very respectable 85 games. They look to have another strong season and clinch a playoff berth along the way.

The Orioles are a team with some of the best young talent in baseball.

  • Manny Machado: Machado is only 21 years-old and is already one of the most talented players in baseball. He had 14 home runs and 71 RBIs with a .283 batting average last season. In 2013, he was also an All Star, Gold Glove recipient, and finished ninth in the AL MVP voting. Machado will start the year on the DL with a knee injury, but look for him to continue to grow and impress as the season progresses.
  • Adam Jones: Jones is debatably the face of the franchise in Baltimore. At the age of 28, he already has three Gold Gloves, a Silver Slugger, and is a three-time All Star. Jones had 33 home runs, 103 RBIs, and sported a .811 OPS(OBP+SLG). He is one of the most exciting players to watch and I expect more of the same from the young star.
  • Chris Davis: Davis really made a name for himself last season as one of the best power hitters in the league. He had 53 home runs, 138 RBIs, and an amazing 1.004 OBP. Davis received a Silver Slugger, All Star appearance, and finished third in the AL MVP voting. If Davis can put up numbers similar to last season, he will establish himself as a feared power hitter.

The Orioles weakness is their starting pitching. In 2013, three of their starting pitchers had ERAs over 4.00. They added Ubaldo Jimenez who sported a 13-9 record with a 3.30 ERA with the Cleveland Indians last season. The Orioles hope that Jimenez is the type of pitcher that takes them to the top of the AL East.

Prediction

I think the Orioles will be a very good team stuck in the best division in baseball. They will finish in fourth place in the division with an 83-79 record. I think starting the season without Manny Machado will ultimately hold them back this season. The AL East better look out over the next few years. If the Orioles can stay healthy and get solid starting pitching, they should be near the top of the division in the near future.

Fantasy Sleeper

With a team full of top prospects and young talent, picking a sleeper can be difficult because a lot of people have already heard about how good these players are. That being said, my fantasy sleeper for the Orioles is Matt Wieters. Wieters is having a strong spring with a .345 batting average. He has a lot of offensive talent for a catcher and as catchers get older, their offensive production drops off. Wieters is only 27 years-old, so his offensive numbers should be able to stay up for the next couple of years at least.

Keep checking in over the next few days to see who I have atop the AL East!

*All statistics from www.baseball-reference.com

Tags: AL East

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