Baltimore Orioles: Serious outfield competition brewing at Orioles camp
The Baltimore Orioles roster arguably had one spot open for a starter entering spring training, and the play so far has added to the intrigue around who that person may be.
Who wants to win the competition for the Baltimore Orioles starting right fielder in 2018? It’s a worthwhile question.
Not because the candidates haven’t played well, several have at Baltimore Orioles spring training. More because each of the candidates has their flaws.
The outfield candidates are based on Trey Mancini starting in left field and Adam Jones starting in center for Orioles Opening Day 2018.
Candidates: Craig Gentry, Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, Colby Rasmus, Joey Rickard, Anthony Santander, DJ Stewart, Mark Trumbo, Danny Valencia.
Before we move forward, let’s examine the Orioles spring training statistics for the players battling for the starting positon in right field:
Now, what can we gather from these statistics?
First, DJ Stewart, Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays are likely not making the team.
Stewart and Mullins were both never making the team but were brought in to experience a big league camp. But, the level of competition they are facing helps to show that. That doesn’t mean they won’t be in Baltimore later in 2018, potentially.
As for Hays, his level of competition also is not right, and he hasn’t played well either. He also has been hampered by an injury, and I think at this point he is too far behind. Hays is hitting .091, the worst average of anyone on the team. He also is the only player not to score a run.
Joey Rickard is likely not making the team either. Rickard has had the second most at-bats but has not done well. He is hitting .130.
However, he has the most walks on the team and a stolen base, which highlights two things he can do that other player can’t, work the count and steal bases. He also can play center field, although not to the level as Rasmus and Gentry.
This leaves five players. Mark Trumbo has been abysmal, but I don’t see how he doesn’t make the team. I would love for him to be traded, but I don’t see it happening as his value is so low.
That leaves Valencia, Santander, Rasmus and Gentry.
Valencia has more doubles than anyone else in fewer plate appearances. He is a professional hitter, especially against left-handers, that this team has not had since Steve Pearce.
Valencia needs to make the team, but let’s call him a utility infielder.
That puts the team at 10 position players (Caleb Joseph, backup catcher, Chris Davis, Jonathan Schoop, Manny Machado, Tim Beckham, Mancini, Jones, Trumbo and Valencia.
That leaves three more spots, and it only makes sense that they go to Gentry, Rasmus and Santander.
Gentry is your best outfielder, your best arm and your speed guy of the three. He will be the off the bench defensive replacement and stolen base threat. Rasmus has done a good job in his appearances. He is working walks, has a home run, and also four runs scored. I think he may work best in a platoon.
However, and Orioles manager Buck Showalter has alluded to this in quotes lately, maybe we are overlooking Anthony Santander.
Most of us assume that he is just going to be on the team until his Rule 5 status runs out, and then sent to the minor leagues.
But, Santander has shown some speed, with a stolen base. He has more home runs than any of the other candidates at two. He also has been fairly selective, with only three strikeouts in 32 plate appearances.
His work in the outfield is notably improved from last season as well. Maybe Santander deserves the ability to be in a platoon role? I’m not ready to write him in as the starting right fielder, but his play has certainly increased the possibility of that.