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Do the Baltimore Orioles Have What it Takes to Maintain Their Offensive Success?
Recent offensive success for the Orioles
Last season the Orioles led the major leagues in homeruns with 212 of them. They also scored about 4.6 runs per game with their runs total being fifth in baseball. They batted .260 as a team with a .313 team on base percentage and a .431 team slugging percentage. All of these numbers are solid across the board for the Orioles, with the exception of the team on base percentage. First basemen Chris Davis led their dynamic offense, with 53 homeruns and he drove in 138 runs. The Orioles lineup is made up of many different hitters who have the ability to hit 20 or more homeruns in a full season, so it was not surprising to see that they averaged well over 20 homeruns per batter in the lineup last season. The only spots in the Orioles lineup that failed to produce at an impressive rate last season, were the second base position and the designated hitters.
More Difference Makers in 2014
The Orioles lost Nate Mclouth, their starting left fielder from last season, but they are giving prospect Henry Urrutia a look in there. To further boost their outfield situation, they acquired David Lough in a trade with the Royals. While this appears to leave the Orioles set in the outfield, they also acquired two free agent hitters who have defensive homes in the outfield, but specialize as designated hitters. Outfielders Nelson Cruz and Delmon Young, both joined the Orioles as free agents before the start of spring training games. Both of these players could help boost Baltimore's hopes for maintaining their offensive success, as they fill a void for a team whose designated hitters performed poorly in 2013. Also, these two players possess the ability to hit for a lot of power. Nelson Cruz will most likely serve as the Orioles primary designated hitter, and he is coming off a season in which he hit 27 homeruns in just 109 games played. Cruz also has a career high of 33 homeruns, so his power is the most notable among all the Orioles designated hitter options.
While the Orioles lost second basemen Brian Roberts in free agency, and second base was not a huge power source in 2013, they have good news at the position going into 2014. Top prospect Jonathan Schoop made his debut late last season, and showed flashes of power. In spring training this year, he has continued to show off some impressive power, and could be in line for a spot on the opening day roster. As an impressive young offensive talent, Schoop figures to quickly find his way into the Orioles starting lineup, soon after he is added to their roster. This goes a long way in boosting the power potential of the Orioles lineup, since second base was somewhat of an offensive void for the Orioles in 2013. Between Brian Roberts' injuries and Ryan Flaherty's inconsistencies, the Orioles did not get much offensive production from their second basemen in 2013. Much like teammate Manny Machado, second basemen Jonathan Schoop could really surprise people with his offensive abilities at a very young age.
Who they will lean on to keep up their 2013 pace
Over the past two seasons, Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones and first basemen Chris Davis have established themselves among the better homerun hitters in the game today. Adam Jones has hit 65 homeruns combined in the last two seasons, with 32 in 2012, and 33 in 2013. Chris Davis has hit 86 homeruns the last two seasons with 33 homeruns in 2012, and 53 homeruns in 2013. These two players will be the guys that the Orioles lean on, to maintain their powerful offense. They combined for over 40 percent of the Orioles team homeruns last season, and the Orioles hope to get at least 30 percent of their team homeruns from them in 2014. With dynamic power hitters like Jones and Davis in their lineup, along with strong power hitting role players, it is easy to see why the Orioles led major league baseball in homeruns last season.
The Orioles will once again put a very formidable offense on the field in 2014, and a couple key changes in the lineup could allow their homeruns to produce more runs. David Lough getting on base at the top of the Orioles order, along with Nick Markakis posting a high on base percentage from the number 2 spot for the Orioles, could really boost the RBI totals for Jones and Davis. With the additions of Nelson Cruz and Jonathan Schoop to the Orioles lineup, opposing pitchers will get no breaks in 2014. Every hitter that the Orioles send to the plate, is a threat to hit the ball out of the yard, and that is why the Orioles have what it takes to maintain their offensive success.