Orioles Offense … My Overall Grade: B-
For every time the offense flexed it’s muscle, there were just as many times as they would kill a rally or a potential big inning with a GIDP or a K or a lazy pop fly. There were a few bright spots this year, mainly MVP candidate 2B Jonathan Schoop. Schoop finished the season batting .293, had 182 hits, 35 doubles, 32 home runs and was the first Oriole 2B to have more than 100 RBIs in a season (105).
Another bright spot for the Orioles and hopefully that will continue for 2018, is Rookie of the Year candidate 1B/LF Trey Mancini. Mancini actually tied with Schoop for the best batting average on the team (.293). He also had the second most number of hits by a rookie (159) and also hit for power with 26 doubles, 4 triples, 24 HRs and 78 RBIs. He also had a .826 OPS
The catching group of Wellington Castillo, Caleb Joseph, Francisco Pena and possible future catcher Chance Sisco were solid. Collectively, they hit for a .276 average with 32 HRs and 87 RBIs.
3B Manny Machado recovered from an awful offensive first half to finish batting .259 with 33 HRs and 95 RBIs.
The downside was the lack of offensive power by the combo of 1B Chris Davis and RF/DH Mark Trumbo. Between these two, they had either led or had a share of the home run lead the past five seasons. This year unfortunately, they collectively hit for a .226 average, 49 HRs (Trumbo hit 47 HRs in ’16; Davis had 38) and 126 RBIs. They also had 344 Ks in 1,015 ABs (34% of total ABs).
Starting Pitching … My Overall Grade: D+
This is probably the reason why the Orioles have not been able to make it back to the World Series. For some reason, our starting rotation will show a spark but it has rarely led to a four-alarm blaze.
One can only hope that for SP Chris Tillman this was hopefully one off year. After going 16-6 with a 3.77 ERA and 1.28 WHiP, Tillman had his worst year ever as a starter. Going 1-7 with a staggering 7.84 ERA and an abysmal 1.89 WHiP.
SP Kevin Gausman proved he was NOT ready to step into the #1 spot as he went 11-12 and a 4.68 ERA and 1.49 WHiP.
I also think that SP Ubaldo Jimenez will not wear an Orioles jersey next year as the 2014 trade has proven to be disastrous. In the four years as a pitcher for the birds, he went 32-42 and a 5.80 ERA. Also, with a HEFTY $13 million dollar price tag, something tells me his next flight out of BWI will be the last time he sees Baltimore unless he gets traded and starts on another team.
The lone bright spot in this year’s rotation went to SP Dylan Bundy. Bundy led the team in victories with 13, had the lowest ERA of any starter at 4.24 and of his 28 starts, 19 of them were quality ones (which is when a SP throws for at least 6 innings and gives up three or less earned runs).
Overall, the pitching staff gave up the fourth highest amount of runs in the entire MLB with 841 (Only the Mets at 863; Cincinnati at 869 and Detroit at 894 gave up more runs).
Relief Pitching … My Overall Garde: B
As the Ravens are known for their stout defense, one of the strongest aspects of the Orioles in the past five seasons has been their relief pitching.
Coming into 2017, RP Zach Britton had not blown a save in more than a season and the back end of our bullpen, affectionately known as BOB (for Brad BRACH, Darren O’DAY & BRITTON) were the stoppers that World Series Champions are made of. But injuries and playing different roles really showed up this year as each had an off-year.
Britton would go on and set the AL record for consecutive saves at 60 before finally blowing his first save since 2015 on August 24th. After a dominant ’16, where he saved 47 games and had an awesome 0.54 ERA (and made his first all-star team too), his shoulder injury was prominent as he would save only 15 games and had his worst ERA since going to the bullpen entirely in 2014 at 2.89.
O’Day had a solid 11.34 Ks/9 (strikeouts per nine innings) but was plagued, along with Brach, with giving up the long ball (a total of eight, Brach gave up seven) and finished with a 3.43 ERA (3.18 for Brach) and a solid 1.08 WHiP (1.13 for Brach and 1.53 for Britton).
With Richard Bleier and Mychal Givens having solid years and Donnie Hart showing promise, 2018 should be a return to dominance on the backside of our pitching staff.
Fielding … My Overall Grade: C+
One thing that was almost always consistent with any Orioles baseball team was the low number of errors the team committed. In fact, just four years prior in 2013, they set a MLB record for fewest errors (54). This year, the miscues seem to come at the worst times and probably cost them between 10-15 games (the amount of games that kept them away from the postseason) as they committed 94 errors this year. I don’t foresee any gold gloves being won by this year’s team.
Manager … My Overall Grade: D
In 2017, Manager Buck Showalter seemed way to eager to leave pitchers in the game when it was obvious that they were either having a bad day and/or just didn’t have their best stuff. Also, he seemed to try to play the percentages too much. Now, of course, in baseball, to be successful 30% of the time for a batter is considered hall of fame material, Showalter would rely too much on how a particular batter did against one of our pitchers instead of letting a hot reliever stay in and just pitch.
As much as I love Buck and how much he has contributed to the organization, I want to see if what is known as “The Curse of Buck” truly exists. As each team that he has previously managed never won a World Series ring while he was their manager, but the very next year after his departure, each team has done just that!
My Overall Grade for the 2017 Orioles: C-
The team started out with a lot of players on the disabled list and for the first month, the shuffling of the lineup and rotation seemed to be working. May through July was brutal but at the end of August, it seemed the Orioles had righted the ship and looked like they were going to make it six winning seasons in a row and fourth postseason appearance in the past five years. September came and the wheels not only came off the cart, they flew off and landed in the bottom of the Inner Harbor. When you go 9-21 in your final month, plus one day in October, you don’t deserve to play in the postseason. Here’s hoping 2018 is what the past three even years (2012, 2014 and 2016) have been, the Orioles playing ball deep into October and hopefully ending the World Series drought (1983 was the last year the birds hoisted the trophy).