2019 Baltimore Orioles: Thoughts After 40 Games
After rainouts the last two nights in New York, the Baltimore Orioles are scheduled to play a double-header today vs. the Yankees. The O’s enter today at 14-26 overall. We are now 40 games (1/4) into this 2019 season, which presents another opportunity to review what we’ve seen to-date.
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As a whole, I continue to be generally pleased. That starts with the appropriate expectations. The team has limited talent. They are coming off a season where they lost 115 games, and they’ve just started this rebuilding process.
I think this O’s team has done a good job of putting yesterday’s game behind them, and trying to do what’s possible to win today. The great majority of games have been competitive. They’ve also largely avoided beating themselves. The bar is clearly very low, but that’s the reasonable ask for this year.
1) Nunez is ice cold (3 for 36 in May), and his overall slash lines now look poor (.221 / .261 / .379 compared to .270 / .318 / .470 for April alone). That’s okay, he should continue to play in my opinion. Overall he’s had just 145 ab’s. This year is largely about determining exactly what you have internally. Can player x become an option for you, or could you move him elsewhere and bring back ceiling / control? The league has made some adjustments, see if he can adjust back.
2) Ruiz continues to play a high quality 3rd base, and show a plan offensively. If you look at his .670 OPS by itself (.244 / .329 / .341); it’s going to be hard to be interested by him. That said, he has a lot of good ab’s. Sprays line drives. 16 bb’s vs. 30 k’s. Would like to see more doubles. I see a guy that I think could hit for average at some point; but to be fair to detractors – he only has a .263 career average in 2,838 Minor League ab’s.
3) Davis is 15 for his last 53 (.962 OPS), and is creeping up on the Mendoza line. For the year, he only has 95 ab’s. The next 100 ab’s are going to be interesting. Does he sustain this run, or is this the high water point?
4) Villar has been cool in May, and his overall OPS has dropped to .719. With him struggling a bit, I’ll mention again that I’d be fine with the O’s extending him for a year (2021) or two (2022). He just turned 28, I think he’s a legitimate Major Leaguer, and capable of being a piece of what you are trying to build. On the other-hand, his metrics at 2nd are not good this year, and if he goes on a run the next two months; and someone wants to overspend to obtain him… that’s fine too.
5) Mancini is on-pace for 28 homers, and 53 doubles. He’s batting .318 after 145 ab’s. He’s murdering left-handed pitching. He has cooled down though, with his OPS under .600 here in May. He’s not a Free Agent until 2023. If you aren’t releasing and eating Davis’ contract, then Mancini’s play in the OF has to be evaluated further. He hustles, and he has a better arm than you’d think; but he gets poor jumps and has poor range. He’s a defensive liability in either LF or RF. A defensive liability you can live with when he’s raking, but ideally who you want to be at 1st or DH.
6) Smith Jr. is on-pace for 170 hits, 36 doubles, 32 homers, and 109 rbi. He’s batting .286. He’s got an OPS over .800 against both lefties and righties. He had a .783 OPS in April, and he has a .927 OPS here in May. Watching him every night, and seeing how long he can sustain this is a lot of fun to watch. He doesn’t turn 27 until October. He’s playing a good LF. He’s doing everything possible at this point to make you believe he could be a piece. Piece could be either as a starter or as a quality reserve. That’s to be determined by him.
7) For all the clamoring for Sisco, Severino has a .858 OPS. He’s on-pace for 20 homers in 247 ab’s. He’s turning 26 in July. Last year was the first season he played over 100 games (103 combined at AAA and the Majors), and he had 320 combined ab’s. 329 is the most he’s ever had in a season. The lack of playing time and experience is what jumps out to me when look at his professional history.
8) The Orioles have clearly decided Martin is overwhelmed at the Major League level and are trying to hide him. He has just 14 ab’s in May. I think the defense has been above-average, despite what the metrics say. I agree with the evaluation his offense is not ML caliber at this point. However, it’s just 83 total ab’s on the year so far, and I did think we saw some adjustment form him (shorter swing, looking for right) after his first 40 ab’s or so. If you can hide him the remainder of the season (and I wouldn’t, I’d play him); I’ll be interested to see what he looks like at AAA next year. There is some talent there, and he did enough offensively at AA last year to give me some hope for his bat to come around a bit. I’m curious if the O’s believe in him enough to want to keep him around all year, or if we are going to see him offered back to Oakland soon?
9) With Alberto and Wilkerson; I think the O’s have found two interesting UTI types. Wilkerson showing some position versatility with his ability in the OF (though Alberto did have a game in right). I think Wilkerson is always going to be one of those last guys on the roster, and in-danger of numbers and losing his spot. When you are building a house, you have to have the foundation before you worry about the shutters; but useful reserves do have value.
10) The O’s made no-cost acquisitions with Karns and Straily. These are right type of gambles a team like this should make. It was reasonable to think either one could potentially help. You’ve got nothing from neither, which was also a reasonable possibility. Straily goes after hitters with the plan of a veteran, but his stuff is just done. He doesn’t need to get anymore time.
11) Bundy followed up his best start of the year (7.1 scoreless on May 4th) with an outing with his lowest average FB velocity of his career. Bundy has maintained the arm is healthy. What do you do here? My thoughts.
12) Ramirez is back up. Has 3 outings and 7 innings so far. I think he’s a perfect guy for 2-3 inning outings multiple times a week. And I’d be looking to ‘schedule’ him as you would with a Spring Training game.
13) Ynoa has looked good in his 12 innings. 12 k’s vs. just 2 walks. He has three 3 inning outings already. This is how he should be utilized.
14) Hess going today on extra rest. Coming off an outing in Boston where he allowed 2 more homers (now 10 in 34.1 innings). Has allowed less than a hit per inning. Does have 27 k’s. I think he’s starting by need, and his numbers are taking a beating a bit because of it. Used in relief where he belongs, and he’ll be better regarded.
15) Great read from Brandon Warne earlier this week on Means. Like Smith Jr., watching Means has been one of the highlights of the year so far.
16) Givens hasn’t been scored on in his last 6.2 innings. ERA now under 3. 24 k’s in 18.2 innings. Just 14 hits allowed. Save count growing. There will be suitors for him in July, and he should bring back a decent piece.
17) Enjoying watching Branden Kline. His stuff can absolutely play here.
18) 102 ab’s for Rickard. Average under .200. Does have 9 xbh’s. Has played quality defense. Will take a walk. He’s probably about to lose his spot on the roster. I remain fine with him as a reserve OF, he just gets exposed with regular playing time.
19) Fry’s having another quality year. He’s showing an ability to be reliable.
20) In 64 Major League ab’s this year, Mullins was .094 / .181 / .156. Horrible, but 64 ab’s. In 68 AAA ab’s this year, Mullins is .250 /.338 / .412 (he was crushing initially, has struggled last 10 games). Drawing any real conclusions here would be jumping the gun. In 1,600+ MiL ab’s, he has a career .778 OPS. In 234 career ML ab’s, he has a career .579 OPS. I’d like to see him back in the Majors, and getting a better sense of what he is. I think he could be a useful piece, I think he could also be a AAAA guy. We don’t know. We need to see him play. There is at-least some potential there.
21) We went into Spring Training expecting DJ Stewart to come North. It didn’t happen. He’s gone back to AAA and he has posted a .919 OPS in his first 110 ab’s of 2019. That’s how you handle a demotion. Want to bring him up, and get and get an extended look? I’m fine with that.
22) It’s good seeing Mountcastle hitting at AAA (.839 OPS, 143 ab’s). There is no doubt in his bat. (Though he should be working to improve his bb to k ratio, 6 to 35.) He’s played 4 games at 3rd this year, and 30 at 1st. Seems clear what the O’s think of him going forward. I was hoping he would stay at 3rd or move to 2nd until he absolutely proved he couldn’t handle it. Seems like the O’s have made that decision. Davis, Mancini, Stewart, Mountcastle. Got four players who belong at 1st and DH. At-least with Mountcastle, you don’t have to promote him now.
23) Sisco has 7 homers in his last 10 games. A .912 OPS in 107 ab’s. Severino is doing enough in the Majors, you don’t ‘have’ to promote Sisco, but Sisco probably has a bit more long-term potential. If his glove is not ML ready at this point, will it ever be? Do they think he can be developed further by staying down? Do they think his value increases if he puts up big AAA numbers?
24) I’d like to see Akin raise his game a bit over his next few outings, and force his way to the ML roster. He should be relatively close. Good to see Kremer back on a mound. Tate has been move to the bullpen where he belongs. Ortiz has been disappointing. Lowther, and Baumann are interesting. Glad that Knight was moved up. Obviously anything you get out of Sedlock at this point would be bonus, but also good to see him apparently healthy. Following and dreaming about Hall and Rodriguez is fun. Lot riding on those two arms. Okay to be down on Harvey’s production to-date, but everyone believes in the arm-talent. He’s regularly taking the ball right now, that’s the win. Definitely was disappointed about Pop’s injury. He looked to be on the verge of helping out at the ML level. Join the Minor League discussion here.
25) Austin Hays is back playing. I expect him to be in the O’s OF by August 1st. Haven’t seen an update on Yusniel Diaz’ injury status, but hopefully he is back soon. Wouldn’t make too much of his scuffling through 71 ab’s, but when combined with the injury; it hasn’t been the best start to his year.
Bonus) The Amateur Draft kicks off June 3rd. Join our Draft discussion here.
Chris Stoner founded Baltimore Sports and Life in 2009. He has appeared as a radio guest with 1090 WBAL, 105.7 The Fan, CBS 1300, Q1370, WOYK 1350, WKAV 1400, and WNST 1570. He has also been interviewed by The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Business Journal, and PressBox (TV). As Owner, his responsibilities include serving as the Managing Editor, Publicist, & Sales Director.
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