1. Brian Roberts
2. Adam Jones
3. Nick Markakis
4. Luke Scott
5. Miguel Tejada
6. Matt Wieters
7. Nolan Reimold
8. Garrett Atkins
9. Cesar Izturis
I think the biggest question mark of the Orioles lineup this season will be whether Wieters can develop into the power hitter everyone thinks he can be. Personally, I think he’s well on his way to becoming a Joe Mauer-type player, not only behind the plate, but at the plate as well. Wieters came into last season with an enormous amount of pressure on him and was pretty much put in the Hall of Fame before he even stepped foot on a major league field. He struggled the meet those expectations when he was called up, but really came on strong as the season came to an end. Wieters finished his rookie season with a .288 average to go along with nine homers and 43 RBI. Manager Dave Trembley played around with Wieters’ position in the lineup last season, starting him toward the bottom and eventually plugging him in almost every possible spot besides cleanup. Trembley may start Wieters out in the sixth spot or higher, but I think depending on his production, Wieters could be hitting cleanup before the All-Star break.
The first three spots in the lineup are almost a given at this point. Roberts, Jones and Markakis proved to be a very solid 1-2-3 combinations last season. Roberts has the uncanny ability to get on base and into scoring position quickly. It seems like he either hits a single, then steals or hits a double (56 last season) and scores. Jones emerged as somewhat of a clutch hitter last season, but was forced to miss almost the whole month of September due to an ankle injury. All reports point to a healthy return in 2010, which is good news for the Orioles. And what more can be said about Markakis? Orioles’ fans have come to expect a .300 average, 100 RBI, 40-plus doubles and more than a handful of clutch hits. The only knock on Markakis is his power, as he has not hit over 23 homers since he’s been in the league. But if he can consistently get on base and knock in runs and Wieters turns out to be the Orioles’ cleanup hitter, this will only make Markakis more valuable.
With the addition of Tejada this off-season, the Orioles added a veteran hitter who will be top-10 in the league in batting average over the course of the season. He is a perfect No. 5 hitter and will fit in great in the 2010 version of the Orioles. Once again, Tejada isn’t much of a power hitter anymore, but he can knock in runs and produce base hits in the clutch.
Reimold’s spot in the lineup is another question mark because I feel like he’s eventually going to be a decent power hitter and run producer, but he’s not quite to the point where he can break the fifth or sixth spot because of the players in front of him. That could very well change over time especially looking at his production during his rookie season. He played in 104 games in his first season and tallied 100 hits while batting .279 with 15 homers and 45 RBI. I think Reimold is going to be a key part of the Orioles’ future and could be somewhat like Markakis, but with more power.
The addition of Atkins is also an interesting point to look at because he has the potential to be yet another .300 average and 25 home run guy in the Orioles lineup. With the word “potential” being the key, Trembley should start him out toward the bottom of the lineup until he can prove himself to be the consistent hitter he was in past seasons. Then you have Izturis, who will most likely holding down the No. 9 spot. He is the weakest Orioles’ bat, so hopefully he can find his way on base somehow because if he does, he has the potential to steal some bases.
Once again, the biggest storyline of this season as it pertains to the lineup will be Wieters. Hopefully he will be the power hitter we all think he can be. If so, the lineup will look something like this…
End of Season