The Orioles are looking to build off a mediocre season in 2016 where they tied for second place in the American league east with the Blue Jays with a 83-79 record. The Orioles ended their 2016 campaign in a brutal fashion when they lost to the Blue Jays on a walk-off home run in the American League Wild Card game 5-2.
Although they ended the 2016 season on a sour note, the Orioles plan to make their 2017 campaign even stronger. They made two big additions to the their roster by signing previous Diamondback catcher Wellington Castillo and left-handed outfielder Seth Smith from the Mariners. Also making a big comeback is fan favorite Mark Trumbo, who served as a consistent power hitter in the 2016 lineup. Trumbo is a key player to the roster, and he should be able to add on to his pile of home runs from last season.
Going into the 2017 season, the Orioles are projected to finish near the bottom of the American League on most national sports websites, which is not unusual for the Orioles. The 2014 Orioles made a deep run into the postseason and showed many critics why the Orioles should never be counted out.
Freshman Ben Kelly said, “I think the season will be pretty good. We’re getting some good outfielders, and our defense is pretty nice.”
“Seth Smith will really help in the outfield. Last year we had a lot of different people playing in the outfield, but now we will have one specific person,” Kelly added.
In 2017, the Orioles will look to prove their critics wrong again by reloading with another strong bullpen, a solid all around lineup that involves players that can get on base and hit home runs, and a quality starting pitching staff with top returners Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, and Dylan Bundy.
The team also returns with some of their top hitters including third baseman Manny Machado, who finished the 2016 season with a .294 batting average and a .343 on base percentage. The Orioles also return longtime center fielder Adam Jones, who has been a key part of the Orioles lineup the last seven years. The Orioles are also returning key infielders J.J. Hardy and Chris Davis, who are very important starters for the Orioles.
Freshman Jake Shindel said, “I think we have a lot of work to do. I think our outfield could use some work, but our infield and offense are solid. I hope the new signings can turn out positive.”
“I think we’ll be better. I think we have a good chance of making the playoffs and making a Championship run,” Shindel added.
The Orioles did not make any big splashes in the off-season. They are following their usual routine of signing bargain players and trading for players who are valued much less but have potential in certain areas. Last off-season, the Orioles added outfielder Hyun Soo Kim from the Korean baseball organization. The Orioles also added slugger Trumbo, who only played in 96 games his prior season with the Mariners and batted .263 with a .316 on base percentage.
Junior Alex Bolton explained, “I think the team as a whole can work well together because there are a lot of returning players that have chemistry with each other. I think they will be able to shock their critics because every year the Orioles are the underdogs, and they should be able to work together to be able to advance to the playoffs and possibly make a run at the World Series.”
With spring training coming to a close, the Orioles pitchers and catchers have the same goal in mind as all of the other 30 teams in the MLB. The Orioles will try and put this goal into action when they start the regular season on April 3 against division rival Blue Jays.