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The intriguing Baltimore Orioles lineup

Jan 27, 2012, 8:02 PM EDT

Matt Wieters, Adam Jones AP

Or how bad can your team really be when your seven, eight and nine hitters all have a chance to reach 25 homers.

This is the Orioles lineup as I currently perceive it:

2B Brian Roberts
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
DH Wilson Betemit
1B Mark Reynolds
3B Chris Davis
LF Nolan Reimold

Of course, there are some big question marks there, starting at the very top. Roberts overcoming his concussion problems is the real key to Baltimore’s offense this season. If he’s not ready to go, then not only does that put Robert Andino in the lineup, but it also likely means Endy Chavez would start over Reimold against righties, since that’s the only way the team would have a “true leadoff hitter.”

But let’s say Roberts is healthy. Markakis too. That’s an awfully intriguing lineup, isn’t it? Eight players there have a legitimate shot of getting to 20 homers. Markakis is one of the least likely, yet he could finish with 15 and still be one of the team’s best players.

Here’s my current projection for each player in that lineup:

Roberts: .269/.343/.389, 7 HR, 43 RBI in 453 AB
Hardy: .260/.315/.450, 25 HR, 75 RBI in 542 AB
Markakis: .301/.373/.461, 18 HR, 83 RBI in 612 AB
Jones: .287/.335/.473, 24 HR, 91 RBI in 571 AB
Wieters: .286/.360/.495, 25 HR, 80 RBI in 497 AB
Betemit: .269/.335/.456, 19 HR, 67 RBI in 447 AB
Reynolds: .240/.333/.490, 35 HR, 88 RBI in 526 AB
Davis: .247/.302/.434, 22 HR, 65 RBI in 511 AB
Reimold: .251/.333/.428, 18 HR, 54 RBI in 446 AB

Nothing there is too unrealistic, is it? Wieters’ projection is on the optimistic side, but then, I’m optimistic. Davis will need to keep his OBP respectible in order to get 500 at-bats, but given the alternatives, the Orioles might as well let him play full-time to see what he can do. Besides, Reynolds belongs at first base.

Of course, the Orioles aren’t at all likely to end up with eight 20-homer guys. No team in major league history has ever had more than seven (the 2009 Yankees and 2010 Rangers are two of the five teams to sport that many). But if things break right, it could be a surprisingly potent group one through nine.

  1. yankeesgameday - Jan 27, 2012 at 8:10 PM

    Hey, I was on the Oriole game wagon last season and called the AL East the best dividion in baseball from top to bottom and I was way off. Fool me once, shame on you…I wont believe in Baltimore or Toronto until they make it to September and are within 5 games of first place.

  2. crstoner97 - Jan 27, 2012 at 8:22 PM

    I would like to be wrong, but I expect we see the O’s and Roberts reach a buyout in the Spring.

    If Roberts is bought out, we are currently looking at an everyday lineup and bench that looks like:

    Hardy SS
    Markakis RF
    Jones CF
    Reynolds 3rd
    Wieters C
    Davis 1st
    Reimold LF
    Betemit DH
    Andino 2nd

    Teagarden, Antonelli, Chavez, and Flaherty or Miller

    Obviously with Hardy’s low obp, it would make greater sense for Markakis or Reimold to be up top, but I don’t see that happening. If Antonelli replaces Andino at 2nd, it could be Antonelli that wind-ups in the leadoff spot.

    If Roberts is gone, I don’t see Chavez playing in-front of Reimold against RHP.

    I see the O’s 12 man staff as:

    Guthrie, Britton, Chen, Arrieta, Wada
    Johnson, Gregg, Strop, Hunter, Patton, Eveland, Simon

    With Matusz, Tillman, Bergesen (and O’Day, and Berken) ticketed for AAA to start the year.

  3. braven4evr - Jan 27, 2012 at 8:39 PM

    Lets be honest about this. We all know B. Roberts will be injured better than two-thirds of the season. The Birds should have gotten rid of him when they had the chance…

  4. Panda Claus - Jan 27, 2012 at 9:03 PM

    Matthew, this is a masterful job of positive thinking. Not since BP was saying, oh yeah, we can stop this leak before too long, have I heard such optimism.

    Now being the O’s fan I am, I love the outlook. I bought in heavy last year thinking .500 was finally going to happen. There were positives, but a lot more went wrong than right. So your scenario isn’t that crazy I suppose.

    This year I’m not going all in again, but hopefully I’ll be pleasantly surprised. If they finished as high as 4th place I’d be fairly pleased, but I don’t see that happening yet.

    Still thanks for the heavy dose of optimism. You just made my day.

  5. randomdigits - Jan 27, 2012 at 9:20 PM

    Brian wasn’t able to participate in Fanfest last weekend, he isn’t going to be ready by opening day. I would not be surprised if Antonelli takes the second base job leaving Andino as a super sub. Unless Nolan struggles I see him starting pretty often as he doesn’t have pronounced platoon splits.

    Heh not surprising that Stoner and I agree, we have been over this stuff before.

  6. Ari Collins - Jan 27, 2012 at 9:40 PM

    “how bad can your team really be when your seven, eight and nine hitters all have a chance to reach 25 homers.”

    Pretty bad if the opposing pitcher gets them out two thirds of the time and no one cracks a .500 slugging.

    The fact that the bottom of the lineup is as mediocre as the top is (I suppose) kind of neat?

  7. bobulated - Jan 27, 2012 at 10:48 PM

    IMHO projecting Betemit for 19 HRs when his career high was 18 dingers 6 seasons ago is staring hard through rose colored Oriole shaped novelty glasses.

    • DJ MC - Jan 27, 2012 at 11:04 PM

      Only if you don’t look at plate appearance numbers and his expected role this season. He’ll be the primary DH against eighties and get more PAs than in the past.

    • dowhatifeellike - Jan 27, 2012 at 11:53 PM

      The guy has 63 hr in what, 9 seasons? Yeah, great DH candidate.

  8. DJ MC - Jan 27, 2012 at 11:01 PM

    You forgot to mention that one of those teams with seven 20-homer guys was the 1996 Orioles. Technically, since Eddie Murray was traded back at mid-season, they had eight.

  9. drewsylvania - Jan 28, 2012 at 12:09 AM

    That level of production is an optimist’s pipe dream.

    1) Roberts–highly unlikely to come close to 453 AB
    2) Hardy–has exceeded 542 AB only once in three years.
    3) Markakis–hasn’t slugged .461 (or hit .300, or posted .373 or better OBP) since 2008.
    4) Jones–.335 OBP would tie his career high, .473 SLG would be a career high.
    5) Wieters–the listed line is laugh-out-loud funny, and would be an unbelievable step up. Not that he can’t do it, but to *project* that he will?
    6) Betemit–has never had more than 412 PA in a season in the bigs, let alone 447 AB. And if he hits 447 AB, he’ll be getting too many at-bats against lefties, against whom he’s terrible, which will drop his overall line.
    7) Reynolds–one of the few here who is somewhat likely to hit his projection, though it will take a rebound from a two-year dip in BABIP.
    8) Davis–career-high .366 BABIP produced .266/.305/.402 line in 2011; regression coming unless he “figures it out”, which he might.
    9) Reimold–should actually hit or exceed the projection here.

    In sum, most of the projections are best-case scenarios.

    • drewsylvania - Jan 28, 2012 at 12:09 AM

      Numbered list fail.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Jan 28, 2012 at 12:30 AM

      1) Roberts – Certainly could be right. I might have to revise downwards in a big way this spring.
      2) Hardy – And three times in five years. As a No. 2 hitter, he can get 542 at-bats playing in 135 games.
      3) Markakis – Tis true. I always think this is the year that Markakis bounces back. He was too good at 23-24 not too.
      4) Jones – Hit .280/.319/.466 as a 25-year-old last season. I’m sure there are a lot of people higher on him than I am.
      5) Wieters – Came in at .259/.336/.504 after the break last year, and his modest strikeout rate suggests that better averages really should be on the way.
      6) Betemit – I didn’t think 447 was a very high number for a guy who could always shift to first or third when necessary. Yeah, he sucks against lefties, but he should find Camden Yards to his liking. Anyway, he’s another guy I’ve always been higher on that most.
      8) Davis – He could hit 30 homers or he could find himself designated for assignment by Memorial Day, and I’m not going to pretend I have a very good feeling either way. I don’t see him maintaining that .266 average, but he almost has to rebound as a power guy, I imagine. Anyway… I could be persuaded either way here.

      • proudlycanadian - Jan 28, 2012 at 8:01 AM

        So they have a chance to finish ahead of the Dead Sox!

      • Charles Gates - Jan 28, 2012 at 9:48 AM

        I don’t think that the point of this article, well I hope it wasn’t, was to suggest that the Orioles are threatening the wild card. However, with some reasonable expectations, the O’s offense looks like it has the potential to be fun to watch. Sure, there are some question marks: Roberts, will Markakis ever ‘bounce back,’ can Jones’ OBP match his hype? But at least, except Roberts, that the potential lies within younger players that will naturally get better as they gain experience- as opposed to someone like Vlad who is so far over the hill it looked like he had a foot in the grave last season.
        But Ari is right. No matter how much I want to get behind the offense, it’s all about the young arms and getting some good performance out of Wada and Chen.

  10. farvefromover - Jan 28, 2012 at 12:13 AM

    F word the Orioles. Great stadium though, and strip clubs on “the block”.

  11. smitchell1959 - Jan 28, 2012 at 12:20 AM

    and they will still finish no better than 4th in their division.

    • Charles Gates - Jan 28, 2012 at 9:49 AM

      I think Baltimore fans are pretty grounded with their expectations. An 81 win season would be viewed as a giant step forward. And we’re not *really* expecting that to happen this year. Hopefully next.

  12. bmoreballers - Jan 28, 2012 at 1:03 AM

    Nicest thing anyone’s ever said about my orioles on here. Definitely made my day

  13. dirtyharry1971 - Jan 28, 2012 at 2:52 AM

    i wouldnt be surprised if the O’s flip flop with the jays this year and the jays finish dead last, the O’s have way more promise then the jays do moving forward thats for sure

  14. takingbovadasmoney - Jan 28, 2012 at 10:19 AM

    Matt Poulidiot you oriole slappy. If this, but that…

    If ifs and buts were candy and nuts it would be christmas every day.

    Wilson Betemit DH. Enough said.

    HAHAHAHAHAHA

  15. mattymatty - Jan 28, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    “Or how bad can your team really be when your seven, eight and nine hitters all have a chance to reach 25 homers”

    Pretty bad when they have almost no decent pitching. Even the best offense (which Baltimore doesn’t have, even if all of these rosy projections happen) is going to struggle to over come the worst pitching staff in baseball, as they were last season. To me, the key to any decent Orioles team is going to come on the mound. If they can get some production from their young starters, they can make a run at .500. Otherwise it’ll be more of the same.

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