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The 2016 Orioles Season Preview Part 1- Going Over Infielders And Starting Rotation

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We made it, through the long, cold, dark offseason, we are finally here. This was maybe the most important offseason in Orioles history. Most O’s fans assumed Darren O’Day, Chris Davis, and Matt Wieters wouldn’t be back, but they spent the money and brought back their big name free agents. They even made some late offseason moves bringing in Yovani Gallardo, Dexter Fowler, and Pedro Alvarez. This is Part 1 of my Orioles 2016 preview, I’ll be going over the O’s infielders and starting rotation. Enjoy it, and lets go O’s.

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I don’t think it is a stretch at all to say this is the best infield in the league. All four starters are Gold Glove candidates this season, and I think there is a good chance at least two of them win the award this season. The big thing is if J.J Hardy can stay healthy. He got hurt in spring training last season and was never the same. He only played in 114 games, batted under .220, and just didn’t look comfortable at the plate. This spring training he looks like the J.J. Hardy we are used to. His power came back, his swing looks good, and most importantly, he looks comfortable. I’m expecting a bounce back year from Hardy, maybe 12-14 home runs, bats .255, and he still plays that great defense up the middle.

I want to shout it from the mountain tops, Jonathan Schoop is the next superstar at second base. We saw a preview of what he could do in 2014 when he hit 16 homers, but only hit .209 due to his 122 Ks in 137 games. Last year he was primed for a big season before he missed some time with a knee injury. Still ended the year with 15 home runs in 86 games, but most importantly, he raised his average 70 points from the previous year. We know he’s not a .280 hitter, but if he could hover around .250-.255 and hit 20-25 home runs, coupled with his glove work, Schoop will be a top second baseman before we know it. Would like to him draw some more walks, just 23 walks in his 228 career games. Schoop has crazy power, and we are going to see it this season.


Manny Machado is a top 5 player in the MLB, that is a fact. He exploded last season, putting up MVP type numbers. I expect him to do the same this season, you can hear that prediction on our podcast from this week. His game has gone to another level every season he’s been up here, does he have another level? Could he be a 40/20 guy? It wouldn’t surprise me at all, although I do think we see him hit less than the 35 home runs he hit last year. Manny is such a freak in the field too, effortless throws from foul territory beat runners by 2 steps, he does get lazy sometimes and will short hop or throw one high, but for every error he makes, he’ll make 4 web gems. As I mentioned earlier, MVP type season again for Manny, I’m penciling him in for .300/30/90, and another gold glove.

Chris Davis was the story of the offseason for the O’s, and lets be honest, they needed him back. They needed to show that the team will reward you for your efforts, and that is what they did. Davis led the world in home runs again, and rebounded from his nightmare 2014 season. It is an even year, so that means Davis is due for a down year, his last two even year averages? 29.5 homers, .233 average, and 171 Ks. Who knows which Davis shows up this season, could be the one suspended for adderall in 2014, or we could see a repeat of last season. Regardless, he will play a great first base, and I see him at around a .250 average, 35 homers, and up around 100 driven in. Jared thinks Tyler Shaw is the mayor of Ding Dong city, wrong, Chris Davis is the president of #DongCity. He’s one of the best first baseman in the game, and a threat to put a ball into the crowd every time he steps to the plate, glad to have you back Chris.

It looks like Pedro Alvarez will likely be the DH, another guy who has crazy power, and may have the best chance of hitting the warehouse this season. Alvarez should never see the field, which is good for him, and now he can just focus on hitting. His college best friend/roommate/super utility man Ryan Flaherty will be the backup at second, third, and short, the guy really can do it all. He isn’t the best hitter, but in small doses, he can get the job done, I actually like him a lot and think he understands his role here. Jimmy Paredes starts the season on the DL, but I’m not sure what his role will be when he comes back, I think the clock is hitting midnight on Jimmy.

Matt Wieters and Caleb Joseph will be the catchers on this team, and we’re not quite sure how they will split the games. Wieters, if healthy, will likely catch most of the time. Who knows if he can go back-t0-back yet, especially after his sore elbow in Spring Training. Feels like he had Tommy John surgery five years ago, and he still doesn’t seem 100%. He’s back on the QO he signed in the offseason, and is in a contract year, so I think we see the old All Star Matt Wieters we are used to at the plate. I wouldn’t even consider Joseph a backup at this point. He likely will play 2-3 times a week, and he should. I’ll say it, right now he is better behind the plate than Matt Wieters is. At the plate is a different thing, Joseph can hold his own with the stick, but Wieters is more of a threat. Can’t go wrong with either of these guys behind the dish.

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Shield your eyes, this could get ugly. The O’s rotation is going to be one of the worst in the league, at least that is how it looks on paper. With the release of Miguel Gonzalez last week, they got rid of one sore spot from last year, but still have to hope for bounce back years from guys like Chris Tillman and Ubaldo Jimenez. New fish Yovani Gallardo has been around the block before, and I’m expecting him to be better than he was last year. Gallardo can help patch this all righty rotation up nicely.

No way around it, Tillman was terrible. He came into camp last season a little heavier, this season I heard the word “abs” tossed around with him, so it seems he’s back in shape, and I’m hoping we see a repeat 2014 year from him. Ubaldo is another guy we hope can find his footing, and finally show the O’s they made the right decision bringing him in here. Just one consistent season from Jimenez is all I ask. Kevin Gausman  is the guy I have high hopes for, but that will have to wait, as he starts the season on the DL because of shoulder tendinitis that has been bothering him since last years. I’m hoping to see 25-30 starts from Kevin, and maybe an ERA around 3.45. Mike Wright will be the fourth starter for the club, we saw Wright have a great first few starts last season, only to fall on his face later in the season. The final rotation spot is down to Tyler Wilson and Vance Worley. Those names don’t scare anyone. Wilson is young, and seems to have all the tools to be a solid starter, but I think he needs some more seasoning, I’m not expecting much from him this year.


This whole season is riding on the rotation’s shoulders. That is not a good feeling. The Orioles can’t afford any injuries to their rotation, just because they have zero depth behind these guys. Maybe Dylan Bundy will make some spot starts later, but other than that, there is no one waiting in the wings. Have to hope these guys bounce back, and show us that last year’s numbers weren’t who they are.

Part 2 with outfield and bullpen coming up in a few minutes, until then, enjoy this awesome Orioles hype video. Make sure to follow me on Twitter @BarstoolRDT for Orioles news and my thoughts all season long.