Baltimore Orioles Season O/U Wins 80.5
Despite significant upgrades made to the rosters of divisional foes Boston and New York, I still view the Baltimore Orioles as an above .500 team. The Red Sox’s loaded offense now combines with what many are calling the best best starting staff in the league after acquiring ace left hander Chris Sale. New York’s reacquiring of Aroldis Chapman gives it an elite bridge-to-closer situation to go along with a lineup that added Matt Holliday and starts this season with talented run producers Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird. But Baltimore wasn’t without some solid moves of its own that puts them in position to be just as productive as last year’s 89-win team.
The resigning of Mark Trumbo ensured the potential to match 2016’s MLB-leading 253 home runs. Landing free agent catcher Welington Castillo gives the Birds a more than adequate replacement for departed starter Matt Wieters. Castillo should provide everything Wieters did offensively and he’s already said his focus will be on defense and gaining cohesiveness with the pitching staff. Castillo’s arm should improve Baltimore’s ability to slow opponents’ running games since he has ranked inside MLB’s top 5 in caught base stealers three of the past four seasons. Free agent outfield addition Seth Smith gives the O’s a solid veteran bat versus righties (.827 career OPS) and a slight upgrade in right field. His presence allows Baltimore to make Trumbo a full-time DH. Playing in Camden Yards probably enhances Smith’s offensive numbers after playing the past five seasons in pitching havens Oakland, San Diego and Seattle.
Even with their trio of very good offseason decisions, the selling point for this handicap lies in the starting staff and specifically with 24-year-old RH Dylan Bundy and 26-year-old RH Kevin Gausman. With a terrific bullpen led by lockdown LH closer Zach Britton, it’s the starting staff which needs to step up the most if Baltimore is going to make the playoffs. Bundy has dominant stuff and looks to be on his way to a breakout season. Gausman comes in off his best season (179.2 IP, 3.61 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 3.7 K/BB) and he’s had a solid spring so expect his ascension to continue. Chris Tillman’s current shoulder issues could keep him out until at least mid-April so Bundy and Gausman need to establish themselves immediately.
In all, the team Baltimore has assembled looks to be better than that of its other AL East counterparts Toronto (O/U win total 85.5) which lost top offensive weapon Edwin Encarnacion and Tampa Bay (O/U win total 78.5). Seeing those rosters and those season win totals leads me to believe Baltimore over 80.5 wins is a solid investment.