For the first time since arguably the mid 1990’s, the Baltimore Orioles posses a true cleanup hitter in Vladimir Guerrero. Although he is a free swinger, he owns a .320 career batting average. He, along with Mark Reynolds and Derrek Lee, will provide more protection for the younger hitters in the lineup. The two young fantasy baseball studs who should benefit the most are Adam Jones and Matt Wieters.
Jones was the centerpiece in the deal that sent Erik Bedard to the Mariners. In his three years with the Orioles his average has increased by seven points each year, and could be poised for a breakout year in 2011. As he matures, his power numbers could rise to 25 home runs a year, and with the added protection, a 30 homer year is not out of the question. He also possesses the speed to have 30 steals as well, and if he were to ascend to 30/30 status, Jones would be a serious asset in any fantasy baseball lineup. He must improve on his jump off the pitcher and his technique as last year he was only successful on 50% of his stolen base attempts. As long as he can stay more disciplined at the plate, he should see an increase in his OBP and walks, and a decrease in strikeouts.
Wieters on the other hand, was drafted into the Orioles organization with unreal expectations, being labeled as the Joe Mauer with power. After only one full year in the majors, there are a few rumblings about Wieters not living up to the high expectations. The kid is still only 24 years of age and has all the tools to be an All-Star someday. With the addition of experienced, power hitters such as Vlad, Buck Showalter has the ability to keep Wieters lower in the lineup. This should keep some of the pressure off him and allow him to see a higher percentage of fastballs. With a year and a half under his belt, it should be time for his offense to blossom.
There are plenty of Orioles that should have their individual stats improve with Vlad in the middle of the lineup, but Jones and Wieters are the two who have the highest upside.
Tags: 2011 fantasy baseball, adam jones, AL East, Baltimore Orioles, daily fantasy baseball games, Fantasy Baseball, matt wieters, season long fantasy baseball, vladimir guerrero, weekly fantasy baseball games