Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:


Already have an account? Log in here.


Forgot Password


Digging Up Fantasy Value in Baltimore

In every season there are teams who initially appear so bad that we give up all hope of fantasy value. In 2019 one of those teams was the Baltimore Orioles, who had a very different lineup to last year. 2018 saw the Orioles move on from Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop, and Adam Jones followed them out of the door in the offseason. What was left was considered by many to be a lineup that for the large part fantasy owners wanted nothing to do with.

However, the first weekend of the season saw a more than promising showing from this relatively young lineup. On the one hand it may just be one weekend, but on the other hand, the signs of life should give fantasy owners scouring the waiver wire some hope. As an added bonus there seems to be some real fragility in the pitching staffs of the AL East. Not much was expected of the Blue Jays, but the struggles of the Red Sox and Yankees to open the season were somewhat more surprising.

Let's take a look at where we might find value among this Orioles lineup.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. Sign Up Now!


Jonathan Villar, 2B/SS

Villar was not short of value when the season opened. In fact, his NFBC ADP in the week prior to the season was just inside the top 80. He has backed that up with a nice start, hitting for a .294 batting average with one home run and a stolen base. There is no great value here, but it is nice to see Villar performing out of the gate.


Trey Mancini, 1B/OF

I told you all about the value Mancini offered in the preseason, and this could be your last chance to buy low. Mancini already has two home runs and is hitting for a .500 batting average through the first four games. If we are picking holes, the four strikeouts to zero walks is not ideal, but Mancini is off to a flying start. You are unlikely to find him on the waiver wire in many leagues, but he is someone you may still be able to trade for if his owner is sleeping on this start.


Dwight Smith Jr., OF

Smith is perhaps the most interesting name outside of Mancini and Villar. Coming into the season, and as of today, Roster Resource has Smith slated to be in a platoon for the Orioles. However, it was interesting to see him start against both left-handed starters the Orioles have faced so far, James Paxton & J.A. Happ. The issue with making a decision on Smith, either way, is that everything in his major league career is a small sample size. Across his three major league seasons, he has just 121 PA, with 91 of those against right-handed pitchers and 30 against left-handed pitchers.

In those 30 PA against left-handed pitching, he has struggled, with just a .239 batting average and .308 wOBA. However, if you go back and look at his minor league splits from 2017 and 2018 then we see a different story. In 2018, Smith hit .261 against lefties, as opposed to .268 against righties. The power was less against left-handed pitching (SLG .374 vs. .446), but it was not overly concerning. In 2017, he actually had a better batting average and SLG (.316 & .436) against lefties than he did against righties (.266 & .380). Those numbers mean that it is too early just to assume Smith is going to be a platoon option for the Orioles.

If Smith does play every day, then there is some reason for optimism. So far this season, he has hit in the second spot in the order and has completed every game bar the season opener, where he came out in the eighth inning. In mixed leagues, his value is limited by the relative lack of power or speed, hitting just 14 home runs and stealing 17 bases in the minors in 2017 and 2018 combined. However, at age 26 there is still time for development in his skill set, although he will need to reverse the early trend of a drop in exit velocity to realize it. In AL-only leagues Smith could offer a solid option, potentially playing close to every day, hitting second and with the possibility of double digits in both home runs and steals. Nothing that will blow you away but still valuable in those deeper formats.


Cedric Mullins, OF

Mullins has started three of the Orioles first five games, hitting leadoff in all three. However, he has so far sat against both the left-handed starting pitchers, with Villar hitting leadoff in his place. In both games in which he didn't start, he entered the game later, once as a pinch hitter and once as a defensive switch. With the Orioles seemingly still unsure of their optimal lineup, and Smith hitting strongly to open the season, it appears Mullins is in a platoon for the foreseeable future. If the young switch-hitter can get full time at bats, then there is room for optimism.

In the minors, Mullins demonstrated the ability to hit for power, and he stole 30 bases in Single-A in 2016. Last season, he hit a combined 15 home runs and stole 23 bases across three levels. In his 191 PA debut in the majors in 2018, he hit four home runs and stole two bases. His contact was an issue as he hit .235, and in 58 major league PA against left-handed pitching, he owns a .149 batting average. It may be a small sample size, but it appears to be an issue for the Orioles and therefore damages his fantasy value. Mullins has less immediate value than Smith, but if he can prove himself against left-handed pitching, he has far more upside of the two. Depending on your injury situation and immediate needs, Mullins is the better stash, with Smith the better option if you need someone to contribute AB immediately.


Joey Rickard, OF

Rickard has not started 2019 in an ideal way, with just one hit in his 12 PA. The bright side is that the one hit was a home run. However, when you are a hitter who returned a .241 and .244 batting average in the last two seasons respectively, those kinds of starts can cost you playing time quite quickly.

From a fantasy perspective, Rickard is another hitter with a relatively low ceiling. His 10 home runs between Triple-A and the major leagues is a career-high in any calendar year, and he has not stolen more than eight bases in a single season since stealing 23 across three levels in 2015. The relative low ceiling and lack of consistent batting average place Rickard third, behind Smith and Mullins as deeper options in the Baltimore outfield.


Rio Ruiz, 3B

Ruiz has struggled out of the gate this season, hitting just .211 with no home runs or stolen bases through the first five games. However, Ruiz, who hit 20 home runs combined between Triple-A and the majors with the Atlanta Braves, has been a consistent presence in the Orioles lineup this season, regardless of the pitcher. Ruiz has also hit fifth in the lineup in four of his five games this season, putting him in a prime spot in the order for delivering RBI over the remainder of the season. Currently, the low batting average in the major leagues, .191 in 215 PA, means that Ruiz has next-to-no fantasy value. However, if he can make more consistent contact, and remain an everyday player, then his potential to hit double-digit home runs could become valuable in deeper AL-only leagues.


David Hess, SP

Hess's first start against the Blue Jays yielded extremely promising results. He struck out eight hitters over 6 1/3 innings, surrendering zero hits and just one walk. He was also reasonably successful in a relief appearance against the Yankees, striking out two in two innings, but did allow two walks and a single hit. The two outings have flashed a lot of promise, but both have factors which reduce their impact for his value going forward somewhat.

The relief outing is tough to judge, as coming in as a reliever is extremely different to starting and cannot be directly translated to future success against a similar team if he was to be the starter. As for the outing against the Blue Jays, the issue is that it is apparent at this early stage in the season that judging a pitcher against the Blue Jays offense may be a tough thing to do. The Jays offense has struggled out of the gate, hitting for a combined .182 batting average with a .307 slugging percentage.

Hess is worth a speculative pickup in AL-only formats, but caution should be exercised given his track record of lacking high strikeout rates. Additionally, he will also see a number of starts this year either in offense-friendly parks, or against offenses which are expected to be among the best in AL.



The closer situation has been somewhat of a mess for the Orioles this season, with four different pitchers having a save and every reliever allowing at least one run. Castro got the save Tuesday evening but gave up a home run in the process. Despite not having a save under his belt, Givens could still be the next man given the opportunity. After pitching twice in two days against the Yankees, Givens may not have been available on Tuesday in the save situation. However, he was used in the eighth inning of their win over the Yankees on Saturday, and their manager, Brandon Hyde, has gone on record as saying they are not declaring a traditional closer at this stage. Until a clear favorite emerges from the pack, this remains a situation to steer clear of if possible, as no single candidate stands out above the rest.

More Fantasy Baseball Sleepers and Undervalued Players

More Recent Articles


Week 15-16 Playoff Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Still doing things a little differently this week--for those of you who are still alive. I want to take a look at the playoffs as a whole (and in this case we are considering Weeks 14-16) and determine which DSTs you can ride all the way through and which ones you should stream this week.... Read More

Week 15 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

You have to love fantasy football. You have to, otherwise you would have given up by now. In a week that most likely represented the first matchup of the fantasy playoffs or a must-win in some form for the vast majority of players, we were treated to the following: Alvin Kamara netting three fantasy points,... Read More

Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 15

It is almost inconceivable that we are progressing into the second week of fantasy postseason matchups. Congratulations to those of you whose teams are still competing in the playoffs. Your meticulous planning during the draft process and the regular season has been rewarded with an opportunity to win your leagues' championships. This critical week provides the opportunity to... Read More

Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 15

Week 15 is upon us, which means that even the holdovers who play in leagues with four team playoffs and no byes are now in fantasy playoff mode. This is it: the home stretch. Are there any wide receivers left on the waiver wire who can help you in the playoffs? Let's look at some... Read More

Week 15 Tight End Waiver Wire Picks and Streamers

If your fantasy football season is over, either because you did not make your league’s playoffs or because you have had enough of failing in DFS contests, then this column is not for you. Congratulations if you HAVE qualified for your fantasy league’s playoffs! To reach the postseason you must have received some decent play... Read More

Quarterback Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers - Week 15

The first week of the fantasy playoffs in almost in the books, and if you're fortunate enough to have advanced then it's already time to start thinking about Week 15 lineups, especially for those who stream quarterbacks. Luckily, there are plenty of viable options available as eliminated owners have stopped making moves, and if you... Read More

Waiver Wire Express - Week 15 Lightning Round

An injury-laden Week 14 decided many matchups, with several big names going down in a Red Wedding-esque affair. Not only was Josh Jacobs was a late inactive, but Jared Cook, Devante Parker, Albert Wilson all left with concussions, Mike Evans pulled up with a hamstring injury, Calvin Ridley and Ryan Griffin hurt their ankles, Derrius... Read More

Fantasy Football News and Injuries - Running Updates

Below is a quick-hit list of running notes on relevant injuries and player news, including pre-game reports and live in-game updates. Stay tuned for updates all throughout the week and on Sunday morning game day:   Week 14 Josh Jacobs (shoulder) has officially been ruled out. Jared Cook has been ruled out of the game after... Read More

Monday Night Fantasy Football Starts/Sits - Week 14

Finally, we had a good fantasy matchup last week. And now, as punishment, we get this. The Eagles against the Giants is a good rivalry game. But for fantasy? Not so much. Even key players Saquon Barkley and Carson Wentz have been severely disappointing in 2019. The game is not going to be something to... Read More

Week 14 Chat - Live Fantasy Football Game Day Q&A

It's Sunday Morning Week 14... Do You Know Who to Start? Each Sunday morning of the NFL season, RotoBaller's experts will be moderating the industry's leading live chat room and answering a bunch of your fantasy football questions, from around 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM ET. Come join in on the fun, and get your... Read More

Updated Week 14 PPR Rankings (Top 300)

Welcome to Week 14 RotoBallers. Below are our updated consensus Week 14 PPR rankings for fantasy football, including some running notes on relevant injuries, player news and rankings updates: Josh Jacobs (shoulder) has officially been ruled out. Will Fuller (hamstring) is expected to miss Week 14. Adam Thielen (hamstring) has officially been ruled out. Le'Veon Bell... Read More

Fantasy Football Mailbag - Q&A for Week 14

This article's content may vary week-to-week, but generally, it will be answering questions fielded from either the @RotoBallerNFL twitter account or my personal one (@RotoSurgeon). This week, the focus is on start/sit questions, and there were plenty. Every week, many of us struggle with which quarterback to start, or who to flex, and I am... Read More

Fantasy Football Starts and Sits: Matchups Analysis for Week 14

Welcome to our Week 14 matchup analysis and start/sit column for fantasy football. We'll be covering every single contest from the Sunday slate in one convenient location, helping you make the best decisions for your fantasy lineups. Be sure to check back regularly because this article will be updated as news comes in regarding injuries and other... Read More

Wide Receiver Matchups To Target In Week 14

In Week 13, Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill were the high-end options that had great matchups. Adams had a huge two-touchdown game while Hill only came up with 55 scoreless yards, falling victim to game flow as the Chiefs led from start to finish, scoring a defensive touchdown in the process. Several of the wide receivers... Read More

Week 14 Fantasy Football Staff Rankings

Below you will find all of RotoBaller's fantasy football weekly rankings, tiers, player news and stats for the 2019 NFL season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Weekly PPR Rankings Weekly Half-PPR Rankings Weekly Standard Rankings Dynasty League Rankings     Fantasy... Read More