As we approach the 70-game mark, the Orioles are hovering around .500 and remain in the thick of things in the competitive AL East. Only 3 games separate the top 4 teams in the division and it’s shaping up to be quite a race as we head into the dog days of summer.
The recent strong play could be a sign that the team is turning the corner and rounding into the contender they were projected to be at the start of the season. While they may not match last year’s division winning 96-66 record, they should remain in the pennant race and make for an exciting summer. As long as Camden Yards keeps pumping out cheap ticket prices, the Baltiomore Orioles should see very few empty seats for the second half of the season.
Let’s take a look at the pieces the O’s have in place:
Adam Jones is one of the most underrated hitters in MLB and Manny Machado is rounding into his potential superstar form. They reside in the top 20 in both Batting Average and OPS (On-base % plus Slugging %) and will both receive serious All-star consideration. Jones is on pace to match last years’ HR totals (29) and is currently ahead in Avg. (.301 this year vs. .281 last year). He may fall a little shy of last years’ 96 RBIs, but could easily get back on pace with a strong summer. Machado is well on his way to a career year, the future looks very bright for the young third basemen.
Chris Davis remains one of the most feared sluggers in the game. While he won’t match 2013’s phenomenal 53 HRs and 138 RBIs, he appears on track for a solid 30-35 HRs and 90-100 RBIs. Although his AVG leaves something to be desired, as long as he keeps slugging successfully and keeps the AVG respectable, he’s in line for a solid season. Jimmy Paredes is also making the most of his opportunity with the Orioles. If a top 15 AVG and top 30 OPS continue throughout the season, the O’s will have an extremely solid heart of the order as the Division race heats up.
Matt Wieters has recovered from his injury and is off to hot start since his return. Caleb Joseph filled in admirably in his absence, but he’s no Wieters with the stick. If Wieters can continue with his strong return, we are looking at a potent O’s offense as we enter into the summer heat. J.J. Hardy has carried over his disappointing offense from 2014 into 2015. He’s a long ways away from the 2013 version that contributed 25 HRs and 76 RBIs in what will no doubt be the peak of his career. Travis Snider, Steve Pearce and Ryan Flaherty fill their roles nicely and the bench provides solid support. Overall the O’s are looking at a solid offense with the potential to go deep into the playoffs, if all of the marquee players can stay healthy.
No one will be mistaken for a Cy Young candidate, but the rotation has been pretty solid overall. Wei-Yin Chen, Ubaldo Jimenez and Miguel Gonzalez combine for a solid 1-2-3 combination, having collectively kept their ERA’s under 3.40. Concerns lie with Chris Tillman and Bud Norris, as only 8 of their 22 combined starts are being deemed as quality showings. Kevin Gausman could soon be challenging them for innings. Zach Britton is looking at another solid year and he is well on his way to matching or exceeding last years’ 37 saves.
The O’s are in good shape heading into the summer. Two potential All-stars in Machado and Jones while the solid Davis, Paredes and Wieters should provide them with plenty of firepower. Improvement overall from the staff, especially the back of the rotation, would go a long way to keeping the Orioles in contention heading into September. In a division with no clear front-runner, the O’s should remain in the mix for a Division crown or Wild Card berth.