In the fourth of a five-part series on the Orioles' roster, we look at the team's solid contributors. In the first part of the series, we looked at the
replaceable position players
, the second at
and the third at players who
could help in 2018
Catcher Caleb Joseph: A year ago, Joseph was an Orioles' punch line. He had 132 at-bats without an RBI. In 2017, Joseph had 28 RBIs and was solid defensively.
The bad news for Joseph was that baserunners had a field day when he was behind the plate. He threw out a career-low 18 percent (10 of 55) of runners attempting to steal on him.
But pitchers like throwing to Joseph, and whether Welington Castillo or rookie Chance Sisco is paired with him in 2018, the team's catching shouldn't be a problem.
Nice Second Half
Right-handed pitcher Kevin Gausman: Gausman had a rough first half (5-7, 5.85) followed by a much better second half (6-5, 3.41). In a season in which the Orioles' starting rotation was undependable, the 26-year-old teamed with Dylan Bundy to give the Orioles a good 1-2 punch later in the season.
Gausman acknowledged he tried too hard to live up to his selection as Opening Day starter -- an honor he admitted he didn't deserve -- which may have contributed to his first-half sturggles.
The Orioles' hope they can get two strong halves from Gausman in 2018.
Lots Of Strikeouts, But Still Threats
First baseman Chris Davis: Davis missed a month with an oblique injury but still managed to strike out 195 times in 128 games. Many of those strikeouts were on called third strikes, and he vowed to work hard this winter to improve.
Davis still hit 26 home runs, his sixth consecutive season with at least that many, and though his play at first base wasn't as strong as in the past, it was generally fine.
Designated hitter Mark Trumbo: Trumbo led the major leagues with 47 home runs in 2016. That was 13 more than he'd ever hit in a season before.
It was expected that there would a dropoff, but few expected it to be so significant. Trumbo had 23 homers, and his 65 RBIs were far off his 108 in 2016. He's also a liability in the field.
Not Quite An All-Star
Right-handed pitcher Brad Brach: In 2016, Brach pitched so well during the first half that he was named to the All-Star team. This season, he didn't pitch badly, but his stats weren't near those of last year.
Brach saved 18 games when Zach Britton was hurt, but the 31-year-old blew six saves. His ERA rose from 2.05 in 2016 to 3.18.
His strikeouts were down and walks were up, but Brach was still an effective bullpen piece.
Left-handed pitcher Zach Britton: It would have been hard for Britton to match his amazing 2016 season, when he converted all 47 of his save opportunities -- and he didn't.
Britton had two stints on the disabled list with a strained left forearm, wiping out almost all of his first half, and he ended the season sidelined with a knee injury.
In between, Britton saved 15 games but saw his American League-record streak of 60 consecutive saves come to an end.
Left-handed pitcher Richard Bleier: Bleier led the Orioles with a 1.99 ERA. He did give up nearly a hit per inning, but allowed just 10 of 45 inherited runners to score.
Bleier's not a strikeout pitcher, but he doesn't walk many, and in a tough year for the club, he was an unexpected contributor.
Tough To Duplicate
Left-handed pitcher Donnie Hart: In 2016, fresh out of Double-A Bowie, Hart allowed one earned run in his first 18.1 major league innings. Hart, who had three stints at Triple-A Norfolk this season, had a 3.71 ERA with the Orioles in 2017.
Hart could have been placed in the replaceable pitchers category, but there's no obvious replacement on hand for him.
While it wouldn't be a surprise if the Orioles signed additional left-handed relievers during the offseason, Hart has a decent chance of staying with the team in 2018.