That was Then...
The O’s were the biggest surprise of the 2012 season, earning that much-hyped extra Wild Card spot and taking down the two-time defending AL champs in a one-game playoff.
Baltimore’s bullpen came up huge throughout the year, posting the best winning percentage of any Major League club, the fifth-best Earned-run average, second-most saves all while pitching the fourth-most innings.
The O’s went 29-9 in one-run games and 16-2 in extra-inning games, including a 16-game winning streak from mid-April on.
The attack was balanced with five hitters – Matt Wieters, Mark Reynolds, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones and Chris Davis – hitting 20 homers or more.
What the Orioles did last season was not simply a by-product of down years from other teams. They scratched and clawed their way to a playoff spot and within two games of the Division crown while playing a complete team game under the guidance of Buck Showalter.
It will require a similar effort this season to repeat the feat. Do they have it in them?
...This is Now
Phoning it In
While the O's starting pitching was devoid of a true ace, the 'pen answered the call with a vengeance in 2012.
The workhorses of the pen – Jim Johnson, Luis Ayala, Darren O’Day, Pedro Strop and Troy Patton - are back and with all of them (save for Ayala)being in the 25-30 age bracket, they can probably be counted upon again for a heavy workload.
The starting staff, too, remains in decent shape with four pitchers with winning records returning from 2012 returning: Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Chris Tillman and Jason Hammel. The team also took a chance on Atlanta cast-off Jair Jurrjens and are hoping for him to return to his sub-3.00 ERA ways of 2009 and 2011.
The offence lost some pop when Reynolds signed with Cleveland, but they also got rid of one of the most prolific strikeout men in the majors.
The O’s offence though is still plenty potent and still plenty young with most of the big bats falling in between 26 and 30. The team will also hope that Manny Machado (see: YOUTH WATCH) is ready for a full season.
It is no secret that the AL East is a tough division, but the Orioles should be seen as part of the reason for that reputation instead of a team that fluked through it last year. Expect them to be competitive once again if they play as hard as they did in 2012.
Every year, we look for players 26-years-old or younger that could make an impact on their team in the upcoming season. The player might have already established himself with a regular role with the team, or he could make their mark later on in the season.
Past Picks: 2012 - Jake Arrieta, 2011 - Zach Britton, 2010 - Brian Matusz, 2009 - Matt Wieters, 2008 - Nick Markakis, 2007 - Adam Loewen, 2006 - Chris Ray, 2005 - Daniel Cabrera, 2004 - Matt Riley, 2003 - Jorge Julio
After a surprise 2012 season, the O's open this year's rankings at 18.
CF Adam Jones is the top-ranked Oriole, at 46th overall.
While the Orioles don't have elite fantasy options, there are certainly solid citizens, whether it's CF Adam Jones, C Matt Wieters or power-hitting SS J.J. Hardy, there are quality performers. When it comes to playing for upside, highly-touted 3B Manny Machado has the potential to be a big bopper, the question is whether he'll be able to do it so soon.
Question marks abound after that. Closer Jim Johnson was surprisingly effective last season, his first as the game finisher; 1B Chris Davis has always been a masher, but strikeouts are always a concern because his average can be a real risk.
When it comes to the starting pitchers, there isn't a sure bet among them so, in deep leagues, look to Jason Hammel, Miguel Gonzalez, Wei-Yin Chen or Chris Tillman late, if you're really in need, but don't feel bad if you prefer to find your arms elsewhere.