Today is always one of the most exciting days in baseball, opening day of the MLB season. There are teams like the Astros, Braves and Dodgers that have a great chance of winning the World Series this year. However, I think it’s time we talk about the teams that don’t have a chance, the underdogs. Coincidentally, my favorite team is the Baltimore Orioles, a team that has close to a 0% chance of winning the World Series. I would just like to break down what they can do this season and give some underdogs some respect!
The Baltimore Orioles are coming off 6 straight losing seasons in a long lasting rebuilding process. I would like to say this is the season that they make some progress and they will. The Orioles have much better talent than people think. Cedric Mullins is coming off a career year where he hit 30 home runs, 50 RBI’s, 175 hits and a .291 batting average, awarding him his first all star game appearance. He did this in a season that he played after surgery due to Crohn’s disease. Mullins is a very talented player and broke out last season. While I don’t expect him to have the same season he had last year, he will still be a key piece to this team and lead them to whatever success they have.
They also have another good piece. Trey Mancini had a season that will be in the record books. After battling with cancer, Mancini put up 21 home runs with a .255 average. While he wasn’t quite his 2019 self, he played great ball and helped the Orioles in a very impactful way. Expect him to play a lot of time at designated hitter (DH) this season. Austin Hays is a very talented hitter when he has the chance. He had 125 hits last season. Don’t forget about Ryan Mountcastle either. He had 33 home runs and 126 hits. He and Austin are very talented young hitters. I personally believe Mountcastle is going to hit over .300 this season and have All Star votes!
They also have a very good pitcher, John Means. After trading Tanner Scott and Cole Sulser, the Orioles need their starters to step up. Means can do that. The former All Star had a very similar season to when he made the All Star game last season. He had basically the same ERA (3.60-3.62) and less hits allowed (138-125). Means also started off the season hot. He had a 1.21 ERA in his first 8 games, one of them was a no hitter. Despite having a fall off, that shows the talent of Means and what he can do. I also think Dillion Tate and Bruce Zimmerman can have decent seasons.
Most importantly, the future. Adley Rutschman is the the #2 prospect in baseball according to MLB.com. The catcher has spent time with the Bowie Baysox (AA) and Norfolk Tides (AAA). He had a .312 average with the Tides last season. Despite an injury, Rutschman is supposed to be moved up to the majors this season, progressing the rebuilding process for Baltimore dramatically. They also have the 6th best prospect in the country, Grayson Rodriguez, who has spent a lot of time with the Bowie Baysox. He had a 2.60 ERA last season with them. While he is currently on the Tides, with the Orioles lack of pitching depth, don’t be surprised to see him jump up to the majors this season! The Orioles got 2 amazing prospects in their hands!
Bottom line is this. The Orioles got talent. But they don’t have as much developed talent. I think this is the year where Baltimore takes a leap…a big leap. I see John Means having another All Star quality pitching season. I see Cedric Mullins still being the guy he was in the field with an outstanding impact on the batters box. I see Trey Mancini improving his average as a DH. I see Austin Hays and Anthony Santander taking big leaps in progression. I see Ryan Mountcastle having an unbelievably surprising season. And I see Adley Rutschman and Grayson Rodriguez making a big impact once they jump up like expected. I see a lot of things. And I also see a 75 win Orioles team. I think all of these steps in the right direction will pay off, leading the Orioles to a surprisingly better record than expected.
Coburn’s Catch: The Orioles will not finish last in the AL East!
In 1988, the Orioles won 54 games (52 in 2021) and had a season for the ages in 1989. With Cal Ripken Jr. and a great supporting cast, the Orioles won 87 games and nearly won the World Series. It was called the, “Why Not”, season. Why can’t it be the Orioles. After a similar season in 2021, maybe this is the Orioles “Why Not” season, where something magic happens! Orioles Magic!
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