Baltimore will have an uphill climb from the basement of the AL East in 2012. When you play in the same division as New York, Boston and Tampa, the chances of them finishing in the top three of that division are slim at best.
The Orioles don’t have many appealing fantasy options in 2012. SS J.J. Hardy hit 30 HR last season but has seen his share of time dealing with injuries. None of them are serious, but they are the day-to-day types that cost him an average of 50 games a season. He makes a nice middle infielder with pop to have, but be ready with a backup plan if you own Hardy.
CF Adam Jones also offers a healthier option with a decent amount of power. He hit 25 homers and 26 doubles last season and has put those numbers up consistently since being traded from Seattle prior to the 2008 season. Being in a hitter-friendly park like Camden Yards has helped.
The player to keep your eye on is 3B Mark Reynolds. Last season in Baltimore he hit 37 homers and drove in 86 runs. Reynolds spent the previous four seasons in Arizona and hit at least 28 homers in three of those seasons. Those power numbers look nice, but they come with some serious downside.
Reynolds only hits for power. His batting average is horrendous as a career stat of .238. Reynolds also has major issues with making contact. He has struck out 963 times in five years in the MLB. Last season with the Orioles he whiffed only 196 times. Each of the three previous seasons he was rung up more than 200 times with his worst being 223 punchouts in 2009.
His final season in Arizona (2010) sums his fantasy potential nicely. He hit 32 homers and drove in 85 runs. He also struck out 211 times and hit .198. Have you ever seen a guy hit more than 30 homers and not even break the Mendoza line?
Defensively, he isn’t much better. He has a career fielding percentage at third base of .930. Last season, he committed 31 errors, so he is a liability in the field as well. Check your league’s scoring before inserting him into the lineup.
The Orioles don’t offer much on the mound. Zach Britton leads their rotation. He was 11-11 as a rookie last season with a 4.61 ERA. If that’s the #1 pitcher the rest of the staff can’t be much better. Closers Jim Johnson and Kevin Gregg won’t be seeing many save opportunities in 2012 and are unownable.
Even with Buck Showalter at the helm, I don’t expect much improvement from a team that went 69-93 a year ago. Showalter has managed a team to a .600 winning percentage once (Arizona 1999) in a full season. He doesn’t have much pitching to work with and outside of Hardy, Jones and Reynolds, there isn’t a whole lot of power in the Orioles’ lineup.
Final Analysis: Baltimore will continue to be a fantasy baseball wasteland in 2012. Outside of Hardy, Jones and Reynolds, none of the Orioles are worth owning, let alone starting in mixed leagues. The Orioles will have limited value in AL-only leagues at best.
Projection: 71-91 5th AL East
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