MADISON, March 7, 2014 — Over the next few weeks this column will unveil MLB Power Rankings starting with the weakest team and working towards the strongest. Today the process continues by looking at number 16, the Baltimore Orioles.
2013 Record: 85-77 with a +36 run differential.
Key Additions: IF Cord Phelps, RHP Ryan Webb, OF David Lough, RHP Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP Suk-min Yoon, OF Nelson Cruz and LHP Johan Santana
Key Losses: 2B Alexi Casilla, OF Nate McLouth, 2B Brian Roberts, OF Michael Morse, RHP Scott Feldman, RHP Jason Hammel and 3B Danny Valencia
Projected 2014 Lineup:
OF Nick Markakis
3B Ryan Flaherty/Manny Machado
1B Chris Davis
OF Adam Jones
OF Nelson Cruz
C Matt Wieters
SS JJ Hardy
DH Nolan Reimold
2B Jemile Weeks
Projected 2014 Rotation:
Miguel Gonzalez/Kevin Gausman
Best Case: RHP Ubaldo Jimenez continues 2014 the way he closed out 2013 and assumes a role at the top of the rotation. Kevin Gausman starts the year in AAA, but pitches his way into a spot in the big league rotation in June and contends for AL Rookie of the Year. 3B Manny Machado recovers quickly, debuting at the beginning of May, and resumes his Brooks Robinson impersonation. Chris Davis continues crushing AL pitching while again leading the AL in HR’s. Adam Jones continues to be one of the most underappreciated players in baseball. Nelson Cruz mashes in the middle of the lineup in a park that should suit him well. RHP Dylan Bundy’s rehab goes well and he pitches in September for the Orioles. The Orioles finish in third in the AL East, but manage to get the second AL Wildcard.
Worst Case: OF Nelson Cruz struggles with timing after his PED suspension at the end of 2013 causing him to struggle at the plate. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez reverts to the form he showed in 2012 and the first half of 2013. Bud Norris gets shelled in the rotation before being sent to the bullpen where he turns his season around. Bundy’s rehab does not go smoothly and he not only misses 2014, but also becomes a question mark for 2015. The Orioles bullpen struggles after they traded their closer Jim Johnson in the offseason. While not completely falling back to earth 1B Chris Davis puts up a more human 32 HR’s. The Orioles play well, but still finish last in the ultracompetitive AL East.
Prospect Watch: RHP Dylan Bundy was expected to help the big club in 2013 but ended up missing the year with Tommy John surgery. Bundy still ranks in the top 20 of most prospect lists and justifiably so. Bundy posted a 2.08 ERA with 119 K’s in 103.2 innings. While he is still likely to make a large impact for the Orioles, Bundy shows the inherent risk with any pitching prospect. RHP Kevin Gausman struggled when he was promoted to the big leagues, but has the pedigree where he should make a large impact, maybe bigger than Bundy’s, with the Orioles after being selected fourth overall in the 2012 draft. The Orioles selected a pitcher in the first round again in 2013 by taking Hunter Harvey. Harvey pitched sparingly in rookie ball after being selected but had 33 K’s in 25.1 innings with a 1.78 ERA.