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Baltimore Orioles: 2017 Fantasy MLB Team Preview and Outlooks

RotoBaller's team preview series rolls on with today's 2017 Baltimore Orioles Team Outlook. As part of RotoBaller's ongoing effort to help you win your leagues, we're previewing all 30 MLB teams.

We'll discuss their moves since last year's loss in the AL Wild Card Game and analyze the fantasy contributors on their roster. As part of this column, I'll take a look at the team's offseason moves, their hitters, pitchers, and prospects that you should be keeping an eye on. Let's get to it.

Editor's note: for even more draft prep, visit our awesome 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. It has lots of in-depth staff rankings and draft strategy columns. You will find tiered rankings for every position, 2017 impact rookie rankings, AL/NL only league ranks and lots more. Bookmark the page, and win your drafts.

 

Offseason Moves

The Orioles had a relatively quiet winter. Their only free agent import of note was catcher Welington Castillo to replace incumbent Matt Wieters. There are rumors that the still-unsigned Wieters could return, but for now Castillo is the starter behind the plate. They also completed a pair of trades, acquiring swingman Logan Verrett from the Mets for cash and flipping pitcher Yovani Gallardo for outfielder Seth Smith. Baltimore bid adieu to Steve Pearce and Pedro Alvarez as well.

Their best move of the offseason was retaining Mark Trumbo on a reasonable contract. Trumbo led the majors with 47 home runs a year ago and was seeking a correspondingly huge payday, but the Orioles correctly read the market and waited him out.

 

Hitting Overview 

Apart from Castillo and Smith, neither of whom is likely to be more than an afterthought in standard leagues, the Orioles will feature the same lineup again in 2017. Manny Machado, like the rest of the team, abandoned the stolen base last season, but he remains an elite option at both third base and shortstop. Trumbo, Chris Davis, and Adam Jones should provide plenty of pop and run production again, though the former two will probably be batting average sinks. Jonathan Schoop will look to build on his breakout 2016; however, the league-wide power surge and abundance of other options at second base make him a better MI option than primary 2B. Hyun Soo Kim doesn’t offer much pop, but should be a good source of AVG/OBP and runs in deeper leagues given sufficient playing time.

 

Pitching Overview

Baltimore’s rotation has a few interesting fantasy options. Kevin Gausman still needs to develop a legitimate third pitch and get the homers under control, but he managed to give fantasy owners decent ratios and about a strikeout per inning last season. Dylan Bundy worked his way back from a couple of injury-plagued years and showed flashes of his former top prospect form. Like Gausman, he struggled to keep the ball in the yard. He’ll also likely face an innings cap, as his 110 frames last season were nearly double his total from the previous three seasons combined. Despite uninspiring peripherals and stuff, Chris Tillman has been a useful starter in three of the past four seasons. Wade Miley and Ubaldo Jimenez round out the rotation and should only be used by fantasy owners in dire straits.

The O’s should once again feature a strong bullpen. Zach Britton has established himself as one of baseball’s elite closers, piling up strikeouts to go along with groundball rates that are, frankly, absurd. Darren O’Day, Brad Brach, and Mychal Givens will generate plenty of whiffs and holds as the primary 7th and 8th inning guys.

 

Prospects Overview

This isn’t a great system, as it lacks any real blue-chip guys. Anthony Santander, Trey Mancini, and Christian Walker are all likely to see the majors this season, but each is a 1B/OF type, and the big club is already well-stocked there. Given the roster crunch and their decent but unspectacular minor league numbers, none of the trio is likely to be an impact fantasy bat in 2017.

 

Conclusion

The Orioles have defied the odds to finish .500 or better in each of the last five seasons, making the playoffs three times during that span. They’ve achieved that success with a powerful lineup, great relief performances, and the managerial prowess of Buck Showalter (his indefensible bullpen decision in last year’s wild-card game notwithstanding). They’ll look to capitalize on that formula once again in 2017.

Consequently, those areas are where fantasy owners can find the majority of the team’s best assets. Machado and Britton will be drafted among the earliest at their respective positions. Jones’ batting average has slipped a bit in recent years, but he’s remained a consistent source of power and run production. Ditto for Davis, though he’s hit .196 and .221 in two of the last three seasons. While Trumbo probably won’t approach 50 homers again, 30 – 35 bombs is a reasonable expectation. Schoop’s allergy to walks hasn’t kept him from being a productive bat at the keystone. Baltimore’s top three starting pitchers all have warts but can be useful.




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