AL East Infield Rankings 2018: Baltimore Orioles Battle Red Sox, Jays for Top Spot

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 04: Manny Machado /
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2. Baltimore Orioles

Infielders: Caleb Joseph (C), Chris Davis (1B), Jonathan Schoop (2B), Tim Beckham (3B), Manny Machado (SS), Chance Sisco, Andrew Susac, Austin Wynns, Danny Valencia, Pedro Alvarez, Luis Sardinas, Engelb Vielma, Ruben Tejada

You really could go either way here, but I have the Baltimore Orioles in second place.

Jonathan Schoop was an All-Star last year, and should only improve if he can continue to be selective at the plate.

Manny Machado, you may have heard, is in a contract year, and he has torn the cover off the ball this spring. Also, his move to shortstop appears to have motivated him, and after a big finish to last season, a lot is expected.

Tim Beckham hit .306 once the Orioles acquired him from Tampa Bay, but it is how he did it that is both reasons for optimism, and pessimism at the same time.

Beckham hit .394/.416/.646 in August with six home runs, 10 doubles and 27 runs scored, mainly leading off.

In Sept. and Oct., he hit .180/.255/.348 with three doubles and nine runs scored.

The Orioles are giving him the chance to start at third base, and so far the defense looks pretty good. But, with Danny Valencia potentially on the bench, will he be able to stay in the lineup? I bet he does, but it is worth watching.

Then there is Chris Davis. Davis has committed to cutting down on his strikeouts looking, which would make every Oriole fan happy. The big guy struck out 195 times in 128 games, and if he hadn’t got hurt almost assuredly would have lead baseball in strikeouts.

His defense is underrated, but Davis is getting the big bucks from the Orioles to hit the cover off the ball. He’s done that, but Oriole fans want the batting average closer to 2013 (.286) or 2015 (.262) rather than the three other years since 2013, in which he has hit .196, .221 and .215.

Caleb Joseph had a solid 2017, receiving considerable playing time due to injuries to Welington Castillo. He may not be the starter for long, depending on what the Orioles do with Chance Sisco at the end of spring training.

Valencia made it clear he wants to be on the Orioles Opening Day roster, and he has hit well in spring training, so that is a possibility. The team also could go fishing on the waiver wire for a true utility infielder…paging Ryan Flaherty.