Baltimore Orioles 3-Year Analysis: Position by Position

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April 2, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter (left) and players lineup prior to the game as they were introduced during opening day against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

As much as the Baltimore Orioles offense over the past three seasons has been viewed as a fearsome lineup, honestly it is the power that has made the biggest difference. The past two seasons have seen the Orioles place fifth in the league in runs scored – very good, though maybe not what might be expected for the team with the second-best win percentage over that time. Indeed, the O’s have been a powerful home run hitting outfit – leading the American League the past two years while placing second to the Yankees in 2012.

Looking at the team batting average, runs scored and total home runs, here are the rankings for the Baltimore Orioles within the AL the past three years …

Year AVG Rank Runs Rank HRs Rank
2012 .247 10th 712 9th 214 2nd
2013 .260 5th 745 4th 212 1st
2014 .256 5th 705 6th 211 1st

As the Orioles sought to improve their offensive production from 2013 to 2014, there were three positions in the lineup that were of special concern with hopes for improvement: second base, left field and designated hitter. The latter of these two were particularly improved by the acquisition and numbers of Nelson Cruz, along with the breakout year of Steve Pearce. Regarding second base, though power numbers were strong with Jonathan Schoop, and though his defense was a great asset, the actual batting average for O’s second basemen decreased compared to 2013.

Just as the Orioles had hoped to improve in these three positions, the desire was to see the other six relatively maintain their previous production, recognizing that Chris Davis was unlikely to hit 53 home runs in back to back seasons.

So how did all of this work out for the Orioles?  And what might be the projections for 2014? While there is great concern about “replacing the lost production of Cruz and Nick Markakis,” it is interesting to note that the Orioles annually hit as many home runs and scored even more runs before Cruz was with the team.

What I would like to do is step through each of the positions and look back, and then look ahead also. With each position, let’s compare 2013 and 2014; and let’s also project ahead as best as is possible with reasonable hopes and expectations for 2015.

To do this, we’ll use the following rating system:

+3 – Massively Improved

+2 – Definitely Improved

+1 – Marginally Improved

0 – Relatively the Same

-1 – Marginally Worse

-2 – Definitely Worse

-3 – Massively Worse

Next: Caught by Surprise at Catcher