Whereas the Oriole Way of yesteryear was defined as Pitching, Defense, and Three-Run Homers, the New Oriole Way appears to be Bullpen Pitching, Infield Defense, and Long Solo Homers. That’s because the starting rotation doesn’t look so hot, the outfield defense is scary aside from Adam Jones, and the team’s 0n-base percentage doesn’t appear to have improved much.
In thinking about what the 2016 season might bring for the Orioles, I find myself saying these words: If you can’t be good, at least be interesting. It’s my hope that the Orioles will indeed be good, good enough in fact to qualify for the playoffs. At the very least, however, I know they’ll be interesting. Lots of power will do that for a team.
Consider this. The Orioles team record for home runs is 257 in 1996; the team record for strikeouts is 1,331 in 2015. Both records could be in jeopardy this season. Here’s why:
2016 Projections (Per Baseball Reference)
Pedro Alvarez: 24 home runs, 129 strikeouts
Chris Davis: 37 home runs, 176 strikeouts
Mark Trumbo: 21 home runs, 126 strikeouts
Adam Jones: 25 home runs, 108 strikeouts
Jonathan Schoop: 19 home runs, 95 strikeouts
Manny Machado: 23 home runs, 98 strikeouts
Truth be told, for all the Orioles’ power, they’re still unlikely to match the 1996 Orioles, who had a 50-homer guy (Brady Anderson), a 39-homer guy (Rafael Palmeiro), and five other guys who topped 20 home runs (Bobby Bonilla, Cal Ripken, Chris Hoiles, Roberto Alomar, and B.J. Surhoff). Davis, the biggest hitter of the 2016 bunch, would finish third on the 1996 Orioles if the projections held.
Now let’s talk about strikeouts. The record-setting strikeout machine that was the 2015 Orioles had four guys strike out more than 100 times: Davis (208), Machado (111), Jimmy Paredes (111), and Adam Jones (102). That’s 532 strikeouts between the four of them. Four guys are projected to top 100 strikeouts in 2016 (Davis, Alvarez, Trumbo, Jones) for a total of 539.
The race is on.