If you’re into fantasy baseball and an Orioles fan, this is a good year to snag up some O’s for your team. Here is a quick Oriole fantasy baseball preview.According to Yahoo! Sports, Baltimore center fielder Adam Jones is ranked 32nd overall and 13th amongst outfielders. Jones had a great 2012 season, hitting .287 with 32 home runs and 82 runs batted in. In your standard 10-team leagues, Jones is going right around the third round.
The next highest ranked Oriole is Matt Wieters, ranked 101st overall and sixth amongst all catchers. Wieters set career highs in home runs and runs batted in during 2012 as he hit 23 home runs and drove in 83 runs while batting .249.
The next Oriole on the list was Chris “Crush” Davis. Ranked 121st, Davis gives you some flexibility on your roster. In most leagues, you can use Davis as a first baseman or outfielder. Davis is ranked 20th amongst first basemen and 36th amongst all outfielders. Crush crushed in 2012, batting .270 with 33 home runs and 85 runs batted in.
Baltimore closer Jim Johnson is the next Baltimore Oriole on the list, coming in at 137th overall. Johnson led all of baseball in saves with 51 last year, and he is the 12th ranked closer on Yahoo! Sports, mostly due to his low strikeout numbers.
Nick Markakis was next, as he came in at 138th overall and 40th amongst outfielders. Markakis had a rough 2012—an errant C.C. Sabathia pitch kept him out for the majority of September and all of the playoffs run. Markakis hit .298 last year with 13 home runs and 54 runs batted in.
J.J. Hardy came in at 189th overall and 15th amongst shortstops. Hardy has shown good power since coming over to Baltimore, but his .238 batting average he displayed in 2012 shows some cause for concern.
The young third baseman Manny Machado was next at 210th overall and 19th for third basemen. Machado played well in his 51 games during the 2012 season, batting .262 with seven home runs and 26 runs batted in. He might not be starter material in your fantasy league, but definitely worth a look as a backup.
Jason Hammel is next at 244th overall (which I feel is low) and 66th amongst starting pitchers. Hammel had a solid 2012 season, going 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA—a career low—and 113 strikeouts in 118 innings pitched. If his knees can hold up, he is a great late round pick.
Wei-Yin Chen is another late round steal. Currently ranked 261st overall and one behind Hammel at 67th amongst all
starting pitchers, Chen was a huge part of Baltimore’s rotation in 2012, going 12-11 with a 4.02 ERA as he helped lead the O’s to the playoffs.
Brian Roberts is 333rd overall, and 28th amongst second basemen. While I might not advise to make him your starting second baseman, I feel strongly that he is worth a late round flier if you have room on your team. Sure he has had injury issues the last three years, but he has been looking good so far this spring, and, let’s not forget, this is a guy who hit .283 with 16 home runs and 79 runs batted in and led the league with 56 doubles the last time he was healthy, in 2009. He also stole 30 bases that year. While I don’t see his power numbers reaching 16 home runs or stealing
30 bases he will, if healthy, still be a contributing factor.
Some other Orioles to keep an eye on are Miguel Gonzalez, Pedro Strop, and Dylan Bundy.
Gonzalez went 9-4 last year with a 3.25 ERA and showed great poise in his first big league season. Strop had a great 2012 season, posting a 2.44 ERA as he set up for Johnson. Strop has been on fire this spring, not allowing a run in four innings with the Orioles, and also pitching exceptionally well for his Dominican Republic team during the WBC. Bundy will start the year in Double-A Bowie, but keep your eye on him. This spring, Bundy allowed only one earned run in eight innings pitched, while striking out five. He did walk six, so once he can work out his control issues, I would expect him back up to Triple-A and then perhaps in Baltimore soon.
by Andy Mindzak