Bust out your crystal ball and make some predictions for the Orioles in the second half.
While the All-Star break does not represent the true halfway point, the lack of games provides the perfect time to evaluate the first half. Where are the Orioles at in your mind? Clearly they are not where they need to be at the end of a rebuild, but do you think they have made progress?
It’s difficult to imagine a pitching staff this bad during the offseason. Even the glass-half-empty bunch had to hope for a healthy John Means and a somewhat reliable Dean Kremer. That being said, I doubt the more optimistic group expected Cedric Mullins to be the starting center fielder for the AL All-Star team. Nobody truly knew what to expect from Trey Mancini, but the Notre Dame product continues to wow with his performance and perspective.
Now that we have established how difficult it is to predict the future, I thought we could try our luck at just that. With Baltimore long out of contention, tracking individual storylines will serve as the primary entertainment. So let’s get to it. Feel free to post your picks in the comments!
Orioles 2022 draft selection: Over/under 1.5
Setting an over/under for team wins felt like a natural place to start, but that is just too depressing. Obviously determining the team’s draft pick relies on that type of prediction. The AL East race should continue to heat up, so the Orioles’ divisional opponents will need to maximize every opportunity to beat the O’s. How will the Birds respond?
The Diamondbacks appear unstoppable in their pursuit of the number one choice. However, the Pirates and Royals play in much easier divisions. Texas could throw its hat into the ring late in the season, but Baltimore holds a six game “advantage” over the Rangers in the loss column.
This really boils down to Arizona at the end of the day. Will the Diamondbacks manage to scrape together a few wins or will the club continue its season-long free fall? Will either team “benefit” from the arrival of prospects? Baltimore at least as a healthy Means to factor in during the second half.
Selecting “over” would represent the second pick or after that.
Games played by Jahmai Jones: Over/under 35
Speaking of prospects, one has dominated the headlines more than most in the past month. While most fans can comprehend Baltimore not rushing former top-pick Adley Rutschman to the show, Jones has far less to prove. While the former Angels prospect does not have the pedigree of Rutschman, Jones is hitting at Triple-A and could fill a major hole in Baltimore’s current lineup.
At what point will Baltimore pull the trigger on a promotion for Jones? The Orioles appear to have serious interest in giving Ramon Urías and Domingo Leyba a longer look. Urías has been a pleasant surprise since the injury to Freddy Galvis, and Leyba is just 25 years old. Still, at some point, Baltimore can allow Jones to continue his defensive development at the major league level.
With 73 games remaining this season, Jones obviously cannot exceed that number. The timing of the promotion plays the biggest factor, but how much playing time Jones sees after being called up should determine this one. Pinch-hit and late-game appearances will count for the sake of this question.
Home runs for Trey Mancini: Over/under 28.5
Fresh off his Home Run Derby performance, Mancini is tied for the team lead with 16 dongs. While Trey has looked 100 percent all year, it remains to be seen if he will experience any fatigue after missing all of 2020. That, paired with the “theory” that the Derby can mess up a player’s swing, could be cause for concern.
However, Mancini has demonstrated time and time again not to count him out. He certainly appeared capable of managing exhaustion on Monday night. He tallied 11 home runs by the end of May, but hit just five more after that. Thirty home runs would represent an impressive milestone, but it will take an uptick in power for him to get there.
Games played by Adley Rutschman: Over/under 0.5
Will the Orioles top prospect make it to Baltimore this season?
Home runs and stolen bases by Cedric Mullins: Over/under 29.5
Can Mullins join the 30/30 club? He stole 16 bags and tallied 16 homers in the first half.
Matt Harvey games started in the second half: Over/under 9.5
With Means and Bruce Zimmermann set to return, will Harvey ever get the boot from the rotation? Kremer could resurface at some point, and there are other wild cards in Baltimore’s system.
Trades before July 31 deadline: Over/under 2.5
Tanner Scott, Paul Fry, any position players? The Orioles could be particularly quiet for a team in a rebuilding mode.
Hits by Cedric Mullins: Over/under 199.5
Mullins entered the All-Star break as the league leader in hits with 106. Can he become the first Oriole to record over 200 hits since Miguel Tejada? Jonathan Villar led the 2019 Orioles with 176 hits during the last full season.