Projected Orioles starting lineup

Chris Davis deciding to stay with the Baltimore Orioles was a godsend for manager Buck Showalter, even if he won’t admit it.

Without Davis, the O’s lacked a true power bat and it also spread them thin at a few positions, despite the already above-average depth that Showalter has at his disposal.

With Davis, Showalter has a ton of options.

Due to Davis re-signing with the club, I find it very hard to believe that the team makes anymore major signings in terms of position players. (It should be noted, though, that Baltimore still needs help in starting pitching, and a free-agent signing or a trade isn’t quite out of the question in that regard.)

With that said, I thought now would be a good time to discuss the lineup I would use on Opening Day if I was Buck Showalter.

For this, I will go position by position, and then give the batting order I would use. Some positions won’t need much argument, whereas others are going to need some explaining.

 

Starters by Position Orioles Depth Chart.jpg

Starting pitcher: Chris Tillman

With the departure of Wei-Yin Chen, veteran Chris Tillman resumes the role as the “ace” of the Orioles rotation. Tillman gets the nod for Opening Day because of his experience, but also because he is the most consistent starting pitcher currently on the staff.

An argument could be made to start 25-year-old Kevin Gausman to start the first game of the season since 2016 looks like it could be a make or break season for his career.

If all goes well, Gausman will probably emerge as the O’s ace for the future, but as of today Tillman gives Baltimore the best chance to start this year’s campaign off with a ‘W’.

 

Catcher: Matt Wieters

Caleb Joseph did a great job filling in for Matt Wieters last season while he recovered from Tommy John surgery. Joseph’s bat came around, and defensively there wasn’t a noticeable drop off.

However, Matt Wieters is one of the top three defensive catchers in the game when healthy. Sometimes his production at the plate leaves some to be desired considering his well-above-average numbers behind it, but the catcher position has and always will be about defense.

And Wieters is the slightly better defender at the moment. I do see him sharing time behind the plate with Joseph more than Wieters has done in the past.

 

First base: Chris Davis

Chris Davis without a doubt should be the everyday first baseman for the Baltimore Orioles. Yes, Davis is athletic enough to play the outfield, but with the addition of Mark Trumbo and Hyun-Soo Kim, Davis will resume his role as the O’s first baseman.

When Davis needs a day off Trumbo and/or Steve Pearce – should he return to the team – can play first for a game or two.

 

Second base: Jonathan Schoop

After missing part of the 2015 season due to injury, Jonathan Schoop will be looking to bounce back and be fully healthy.

Schoop is a good defender with an above-average arm, and a decent bat. No real discussion needs to be had here.

IMG_3170.jpg
Orioles players warm up in the outfield prior to the start of a game last season against the Atlanta Braves. Players include Adam Jones (10), Jonathan Schoop (6), Ryan Flaherty (3) and Manny Machado (13).  Photo by Ryan Decker

 

Shortstop: J.J. Hardy

Much like at second base, it’s obvious that J.J. Hardy will be the starting shortstop for the Orioles this upcoming season.

 

Third Base: Manny Machado

This will be a big season for the O’s and third baseman Manny Machado. Machado and the club avoided arbitration with a one-year, $5 million deal, but he becomes a free agent at the conclusion of the season.

As much attention as Baltimore gave to Davis this offseason, even more attention and money will be thrown in Machado’s direction next winter. In a big conflict of interest, the better Machado does, the more cash the O’s will be forced to pay if they want to retain their franchise player, and the opposite is be true, as well.

 

Left field: Hyun-Soo Kim

The addition of the 28-year-old outfielder from Seoul, South Korea, Hyun-Soo Kim, was one of the more interesting moves the Orioles made this offseason.

Kim is regarded as a power hitter coming over from the Korean Baseball Organization, but looking at his stats he can also hit for a high average and drive in a lot of runs. In parts of 10 seasons with the Doosan Bears, Kim belted 142 home runs while knocking in 771 base runners and hitting for a .318 average.

Argubly his best season was in 2009 when he finished with a .357 AVG, hit 23 home runs, and had 104 RBI.

Not only do his stats suggest he can hit, they also say indicate is a good fielder, having been awarded the KBO Golden Glove Award in 2008, 09, and 10.

My only question with Kim is will he be ready by the start of the season? It’s no secret that there is an adjustment period for hitters coming to the MLB from foreign leagues. But, if Kim can get his legs under him quickly during Spring Training, he can be a good fit in the Orioles outfield.

 

Center Field: Adam Jones

No player currently better personifies the Orioles than Adam Jones. He’s is this era’s Mr. Baltimore.

The only difference that fans could see from Showalter regarding his center fielder may be that, due to the added depth in the outfield, Jones could get a few more days off. Showalter knows better than anyone else, though, that taking Jones out of the lineup is never an easy task.

The addition of Trumbo, the re-signing of Davis, the power that Machado displayed last year, and the potential of Kim all point towards pitchers not being able to key in on Jones, meaning he could see better pitches to hit and see his stats rise a little bit this season.

 

Right Field: Mark Trumbo

In what I have been calling the “steal of the century,” amongst moves the Orioles franchise has made in recent years at least, the Orioles added Mark Trumbo to their lineup in exchange for third-string catcher Steven Clevenger.

Trumbo is a power hitter that can also hit for average and run the bases, something that Baltimore has not done well in the last few seasons.

The former Mariner can player either of the corner outfield positions, as well as first base, but I see right field in Camden Yards suiting him a little bit better than left field.

It should be noted, though, that at the moment Trumbo is a one-year rental after having signed a 1-year deal with the O’s to avoid arbitration.

 

Designated Hitter: Caleb Joseph

Keeping Caleb Joseph out of the lineup is hard.

Joseph grew right before Baltimore fans’ eyes last year, hitting for a .299 on-base percentage, and being one of the team’s best hitters in the clutch.

His bat needs to be in the lineup, whether at the DH or the catcher position.

It wouldn’t surprise me if O’s fans witness one game this season in which Joseph is the catcher, Wieters is on first base, Davis is in right field and Trumbo is that day’s designated hitter. That is the versatility that Showalter has at his disposal with the offense.

Opening Day Lineup

  1. Manny Machado
  2. J.J. Hardy
  3. Adam Jones
  4. Chris Davis
  5. Mark Trumbo
  6. Matt Wieters
  7. Caleb Joseph
  8. Hyun-Soo Kim
  9. Jonathan Schoop

 

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