Orioles: 2017 Fantasy Baseball Preview

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AL East: NYY, BOS

The Orioles have been pretty quiet this offseason. Yet, they are one of the more complete teams in the division. What fantasy value do they have?

The Baltimore Orioles haven’t done much this offseason. They signed a hitter to fill a need, but that’s about it. It’s not like the team needs much, though. The offense is solid and the bullpen is lights out. The only help they do need is in their rotation, but the starting pitcher market is not there. What is the value of the players currently on the roster?

The Orioles, like the rest of the American League East, hit a lot of home runs. They finished first in home runs with 253, but middle of the road in the rest of the offensive categories.

The offense didn’t need to score a lot of runs because the bullpen shut down opposing offenses.

With the two-headed monster Baltimore had, a two-run lead was all but secure. I’ll go more in-depth in a bit.

The Orioles did let a couple of people slip away this offseason. First baseman Steve Pearce signed with their division rival, the Toronto Blue Jays.

They are also awaiting a response from Mark Trumbo. The Orioles put out a qualifying offer, but he has yet to accept. Trumbo contributed 47 home runs and 108 RBI.

Trumbo contributed 47 home runs and 108 RBI. Those numbers are 18.5 percent and 15 percent of the team’s total, respectively. There aren’t many batters that account for that much of a team’s offense. The team still has two 40-home run potential hitters, but Trumbo’s loss would be devastating.

The Orioles will still be able to compete, but the rotation is going to need to step up big time fans and fantasy owners are going to take them as threats.

Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles rotation is solid but doesn’t feature anyone that is going to excite you. According to their team page, the rotation goes Chris Tillman, Yovani Gallardo, Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, and Wade Miley. Ubaldo Jimenez is also in the mix.

Again, solid options but no one worth drafting in the top 100. Gausman is the first starting pitcher to draft, at No. 102. Despite his win-loss record, 9-12, he was the Orioles best pitcher. He had a 3.61 ERA, 1.280 WHIP, and 174 strikeouts in 179.2 innings.

As I’ve said before, I am not a fan of wins as a category. They are not representative of who that pitcher is. That is why quality starts are better. Gausman had 18 of them in 30 starts.

TIllman had a 3.77 ERA and 1.285 WHIP with a 16-6 record in 30 starts. He would make a good No. 3 or 4 option in standard leagues.

Bundy is someone to keep an eye on in 2017. He spent some time in the Orioles bullpen but made 14 starts. In those starts, he had a 4.52 ERA, 1.298 WHIP and 72:30 K:BB ratio. In 22 relief appearances, he had a 3.08 ERA, 1.526 WHIP and 32:12 K:BB ratio.

He is still just 24 years old. If he can combine his control as a starter and dominance as a relief pitcher, he would be a candidate for the best value pick.

Gallardo, Miley and Jimenez are veteran options made for AL-only or deeper leagues. Not anyone I would target in standard leagues.

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Much like the Yankees and Red Sox, the Orioles have a solid one-two punch in the bullpen. The combination of Darren O’Day and Zach Britton allowed a total of 17 runs.

O’Day missed a lot of time throughout the 2016 season. He dealt with a hamstring strain in the summer and a right shoulder rotator cuff strain at the end of the season. All signs point to him returning at 100 percent. He has value in holds leagues and, knock on wood, if Britton gets hurts, he will get a huge boost as the temporary closer.

Speaking of Britton, he was nothing short of perfect. He had a 0.54 ERA, 0.836 WHIP and 47 saves in 69 games. He also struck out 74 and walked 18 batters in 67 innings. I had him on my fantasy team and loved every minute of it.

My early position rankings have Britton as the No. 2 closer. Do not bank on him having another season like that this year. However, finishing with a 1.50 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 42 saves is very likely. Draft him with confidence.

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The one player the Orioles signed this offseason was catcher Wellington Castillo. After the front office and Matt Weiters parted ways, the team needed a replacement and got a pretty good one.

The rest of the infield is Chris Davis at first base, Jonathan Schoop at second, J.J. Hardy at shortstop and Manny Machado at third.

Davis is a power monster. He hit 38 home runs and 84 RBI in 157 games. The downside is that he hit just .221. If you use on-base percentage in average, Davis’ value gets more of a boost, but you can’t get higher than a top-10 first baseman.

Both Brad Kelly and I wrote about Schoop this offseason. I am more confident in Schoop heading into 2017. His 25 homers and 82 RBI are welcomed in a somewhat shallow second base position.

Hardy is not inside my top-20 shortstops. There are plenty of other options available.

Machado followed up his amazing 2015 season (35 HR/86 RBI/.286) with an even better 2016 season. He hit 37 homers, 96 RBI and .294 in 157 games. He is my No. 3 third baseman but also has shortstop eligibility. So, you could end up with Machado and another top third baseman.

Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles outfield is interesting, to say the least. There are two underdeveloped options and a veteran. Adam Jones anchors the outfield in center, Joey Rickard is in right and Hyun Soo Kim is in left.

Jones struggled in April. He hit .224 with one home run and seven RBI. He finished with 29 homers, 83 RBI and a .265 average. Jones has three straight years of at least 27 home runs and 82 RBI. Because of his consistency, he is my No. 21 outfielder. Let’s just hope for a hot first month.

Rickard and Kim are two question marks for fantasy. With Trumbo in the lineup, Rickard was relegated to the bench. He only played in 85 games but hit five home runs, 19 RBI and 268.

Kim finished with a .302 average but did not carry over the power he had in Korea. He hit just six home runs in 95 games. There were also rumors that the Orioles were going to release him. He finished the season on a down note, hitting .275 in the second half. He is a waiver wire add for now.

Davis is at first, which means Trey Mancini is the team’s designated hitter. He didn’t play much at all, just 15 games. He doesn’t have any fantasy value.

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I like the Orioles offense, especially their infield. Davis, Schoop and Machado rank highly in their respective positions. Jones is also a top-20 outfielder. Both stars in the bullpen are worth drafting, too.

Unless you have a deep bench or play in an AL-only league, the only starting pitcher worth drafting is Gausman. He is a 11th round pick at best.

If Trumbo goes back, I think he will take over the DH role, keeping Rickard in the outfield. He would make that lineup 10 times better.