Guest post by Daniel Clark from Pen & Paper Sports.
The 2013 MLB season has come to an end for the Orioles and although they were unable to reach the heights that they did in 2012 (playoffs), there were many encouraging signs for the team moving forward.
Chris Davis – Coming into the season, the closest Davis had come to a genuine break-out year was in 2012 when he hit .270 with 33 HR and 85 RBI.
These figures do not even come close to the numbers he put up in 2013 though, hitting .286 with 53 HR and 138 RBI. In addition to the impressive power which was clear to see on an almost nightly basis, Davis possessed a new-found maturity at the plate, ensuring he was more selective with his pitches than ever before.
This maturity was highlighted by the 72 walks he drew during the season, which was also a personal best. He was duly awarded with All-star selection and named Most Valuable Oriole.
Manny Machado – After an impressive debut season in 2012 where he played 51 games, hitting .262 with 7 HR and 26 RBI, the expectations were high for young Machado as he entered his first full season.
Offensively, he starred, hitting .283 with 14 HR and 71 RBI predominantly from the number two spot in the line up. Another encouraging sign was his ability to produce extra-base hits, finishing the season with 51 doubles and 3 triples.
As good as his season was with the bat, it was probably his defense which drew more attention though, as he frequently made the seemingly impossible plays, possible. Machado is without a doubt one of the brightest stars in baseball and he too was duly rewarded for a fantastic season with an All-star selection.
A knee injury late in the season had fans worried he would miss most of the 2014 season, however scan results proved to be favorable for Machado and he is set to be ready come Spring Training.
Adam Jones – Heading into his sixth season as an Oriole, Jones has steadily improved each season he has spent at Birdland.
His average has always sat between .270 and .287, however it was in 2013 when it nudged .300 for most of the season and took him into the upper echelon of stars. Overall, in 2013 Jones finished hitting .285 with 33 HR and 108 RBI, and like Davis and Machado, he also earned All-star selection.
Jones truly is a gifted athlete and again had a good year at Centre Field, however he does have a tendency to have rare mental lapses which can hurt the team. If he can remove these rare moments from his game and work hard on combating the down-and-away curve ball, I genuinely believe that he has the ability to become one of the greatest players ever.
On a side note, Jones is one of the most popular players amongst fans and frequently interacts with them via his Twitter account. His openness and honesty is refreshing, highly entertaining and greatly appreciated by all fans.
Chris Tillman – In a pitching rotation that lacks a true Ace, Tillman was the stand out leader and finished the season with a record of 16-7 and an ERA of 3.71. These figures could well have been more impressive too, had it not been for a number of blown saves by the bullpen. Still just 25 years old, Tillman has the ability to become that Ace that the Orioles so desperately need. 2014 is an exciting year for many, however none more so than Tillman.
Tommy Hunter – Despite some struggles later in the season, Tommy Hunter had the best season of his career, appearing in 68 games and working to an ERA of just 2.81. Quite often, Hunter would be called into the game with inherited runners and frequently blew away hitters with a powerful fastball.
Dylan Bundy – After making his much-hyped debut in 2012 and showing promising signs, Bundy was struck down by injury in 2013 and had his season ruined. He is expected to return just prior to the All-star Break next season.
Jason Hammel – After a promising 2012 season where Hammel achieved an 8-6 record with a 3.43 ERA, 2013 was set to be a break out year for Hammel. However it was far from it as he lumbered through 25 games, first as a starter and ultimately out of the bullpen.
He finishes with a record of 7-8 and an ERA of 4.97. Hammel proved to be as frustrating as any pitchers for the Orioles fan base.
Starting Pitching – The Orioles used 14 starting pitchers in 2013, with this figure highlighting the struggles the team had with consistency. Of those starters, only two had an ERA under 4.00 (Gonzalez and Tillman) and only two (the same two) recorded more than 7 wins. This inconsistency and lack of ability to go deep into games put far too much pressure on the bullpen and the strain showed, with many close games lost in the later innings. If the Orioles want to be a true contender in 2014, the front office needs to recruit an Ace starting pitcher who can be relied upon in big games.
Home Runs Allowed – The Orioles certainly lived and died by the long ball. Despite hitting the most in the Majors, they also conceded the most. In total, the Orioles allowed a nightmarish 202 home runs in 2013, comfortably the most of all teams.
Record vs. Sub .500 Teams – A record of 34-27 against sub .500 teams will not translate into a playoff berth. When compared to the likes of Boston (44-22), Tampa Bay (43-21), Cleveland (54-18) and Texas (51-31), you can see how costly the lack of domination against these lowly teams has been in 2013.
Record in 1-run Games – In 2012, the Orioles set a record of 29 & 9 in 1-run Games and this was largely the reason behind a playoff position. In 2013 however, they went just 20 & 31 in these games and it ultimately proved costly.
To my 6,000 loyal followers on Twitter, thank you for making the 2013 season so enjoyable. I have thoroughly enjoyed the interaction and look forward to keeping you updated over Winter and during Spring Training.
Follow Daniel on Twitter @DJC_Sports.