I predicted Hyun Soo Kim would be the main starter. Well, he struggled with a part-time role and was eventually traded. I thought that Joey Rickard might platoon some. He did but with right fielder Seth Smith.
I commented on the Rule 5 picks, Anthony Santander and Aneurys Tavarez, battling for the reserve role. Tavarez didn’t make the team, Santander did once he came off the DL, but only played right field in limited appearances.
But it was someone I didn’t even mention in left field who won the job, started 85 games and seemingly won a spot in the Orioles’ lineup for years to come: Trey Mancini. Mancini hit .293/.338/.488 with 24 home runs, 26 doubles, 65 runs scored and 78 runs batted in in 147 games played.
This all coming while Mancini worked on learning left field. He did make three errors at the position, tied for fifth most in the American League.
His range was slightly below league average as were the rest of his sabermetrics. But, he got better than the year went on, and most would say his defense was better than the -1.2 defensive WAR he finished with. Paired with a 2.8 offensive WAR, and Mancini ended up at 2.2 for his rookie campaign.
Kim started 33 games in left field, but struggled overall, hitting just .232/.305/.288. Once he lost the starting job it was hard for Kim to get consistent at-bats, and he ended up being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies and is now a free agent. It was kind of a sad end to Kim’s time in Baltimore, but he simply got surpassed.
Rickard, Gentry, and Smith all saw more time in left field but started in right while Mancini was first getting acclimated to the position. Gentry was the Orioles’ defensive outfielder and speed option, with little offense. Rickard provided speed with limited offense. Smith was a patient eye who lived up to his reputation but saw the majority of starts in right field, not left.
Mancini will be in Baltimore for years to come, as will Rickard. Other than that, the Orioles have a young crop of outfielders on the way, led by Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, and D.J. Stewart. My guess is Mancini will be in left field again in 2018.