How many games will the Baltimore Orioles win in 2017? Will they make the playoffs? And who will be the team's breakout star?
PressBox baseball writers and a few local media personalities share their predictions for the 2017 Orioles.
Phil Backert, PressBox / SiriusXM Fantasy Sports (@PhilBackert)
The Orioles are once again primed for October baseball behind stars like third baseman Manny Machado and center fielder Adam Jones. However, it will be difficult to outlast the Red Sox and win the division, so the likely avenue will be the Wild Card with about 88-89 wins. The key factor for the O's will be whether right-hander Kevin Gausman takes the next step, especially with right-hander Chris Tillman sidelined for at least the first month.
I'm picking the Orioles to win 88 games and narrowly miss the playoffs. While I am confident right-handers Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy will take big steps forward, the team can only seriously contend if right-hander Chris Tillman gets off the "if" list. If that occurs, the O's can be right there with Boston and Toronto.
On paper, the 2017 Orioles look a lot like the 2016 Orioles. There are some areas where they could potentially improve (first baseman Chris Davis' production, right-handers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman's consistency), but there are also areas where they may struggle to match their success (lefty closer Zach Britton's perfection, Welington Castillo replacing Matt Wieters behind the plate). With that in mind, I will pick them to once again win 89 games and reach the postseason via a Wild Card spot. And I'll make the bold prediction that catching prospect Chance Sisco will get an opportunity during the season and end up being a key contributor.
I think the Orioles will win 90 games, finish in second place in the American League East and earn a Wild Card berth. How far will they get in the playoffs? Well, that depends on the three most important players on the 2017 team: Right-handers Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy and Chris Tillman. I think both Gausman and Bundy take a step forward in 2017, with Gausman pitching 200 innings for the first time in his career, and Bundy completing a full season and 30 starts. If Tillman can return healthy by early May, the Orioles' rotation will be solid. But, ultimately, I don't think the club's rotation will be strong enough to make a deep run into the postseason.
The Orioles will have their sixth consecutive non-losing season, finishing with a record of 86-76. It will be a good season, but they'll fall just short of the postseason. Left-hander Jayson Aquino will be the team's breakout star, and he'll help solidify the starting pitching, which is the team's biggest concern.
The Orioles will finish the season with 84 wins and make the playoffs as the second Wild Card. The breakout star/key factor for the team will be right-hander Dylan Bundy.
The O's will win 90 games this year and head into the playoffs as a Wild Card team. Right-hander Kevin Gausman will carry them with a 20-win season.
Jim Henneman, PressBox
I hate preseason predictions because usually they just prove you wrong. But having said that, ever since the Orioles' 93-win season in 2012, which nobody saw coming, I've been stuck on predicting 87 wins each year. The O's have won 85, 96, 81 and 89 since then, which averages out to just less than 88, so that's the number I'm going with this year. Good enough to win the division? That probably depends on the Red Sox, who look dominant on paper. Good enough for the postseason? I think so. They don't have many "breakout" candidates, so I'll go with one semi-obvious candidate -- Dylan Bundy -- and one who isn't even on the roster as this is written -- Craig Gentry, a relatively unknown 33-year old, and hope he isn't this year's version of Jake Fox.
I'm often labeled a pessimist when it comes to hometown sports teams, but I've found that, as a longtime believer in the "reverse jinx for the win," I enjoy being proven wrong. That being said, the Orioles will finish the 2017 season with 85 wins. They will be a good team, no doubt, but as for the playoffs, it's not in the cards. There are two (maybe three) teams in the AL East that are better than the O's this year. Look for right-handers Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy to be breakout stars in 2017. They both have to be -- or else 85 wins is just a pipe dream.
These Birds, while similar to last year's team, have the added benefit of right-hander Dylan Bundy starting the season in the rotation, so I foresee a slight improvement to 90 wins. The Red Sox have gotten better, and the Blue Jays can still pitch, so I see the Orioles returning to the Wild Card game to once again face Toronto. I think new pitching coach Roger McDowell, new bullpen coach Alan Mills (and apparently vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson) are going to build a solid rotation. I can't believe I'm saying it, but the Orioles' starting pitching is going to surprise some people this year. Of course, if right-hander Chris Tillman doesn't return, Bundy's arm falls off and right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez finds another pothole, this all changes.
The 2017 Orioles will hit a lot of home runs, but their success will depend largely on their starting pitching (stop me if you've heard this before). If the top three starters -- right-handers Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and Chris Tillman -- can stay (or in Tillman's case, get) healthy, and if right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez and left-hander Wade Miley aren't terrible, then the Orioles are in position to improve upon their 2016 win total; let's call it 92-70. If the Orioles are able to hit that 92-win mark, then you can go ahead and pencil them in for the Wild Card game, and this year, they'll have home-field advantage (sorry, Canada).
The 2017 Orioles are going to surprise me one way or another, because I have no idea what to expect. Keeping outfielder/designated hitter Mark Trumbo is a positive, because they got him on a great deal, but don't expect him to lead the league in home runs again. I think Baltimore will be competitive, winning 88 games and challenging for another Wild Card spot. To do that, right-hander Chris Tillman will not only need to get healthy but also need to be a solid No. 1 starter, bordering on an ace.