With the rebuild underway, Baltimore fans have mostly settled in and begun to “trust the process.” They know that patience is going to be a theme in the coming seasons, as nobody is going to PowerPlay Sports Betting to lay any money on the O’s to win it all any time soon. However, there are a few clocks in Birdland ticking louder than the rest.
The signs of life for former first-rounder DJ Stewart can best be described as, “conflicting.” Stewart posted a 124 wRC+ in 2020. His exit velocity, barreled ball rate, hard hit rate, weighted on base average, and walk rate, were all up from 2019. But put these numbers up against his overall .193 average, his growing trouble with left-handed pitching, and his increasing chase and strikeout rates, and all we are left is more wait-and-see.
Reading the blueprint we have seen so far with the current front office, 27-year-old Stewart’s time in Baltimore could be running out no matter which side of the potential slugger we get early this season.
After a slow integration, nagging injuries and a global pandemic, the Orioles have yet to see the center piece in the 2017 Manny Machado trade haul make his Major League debut. As in previous years, Yusniel Diaz has already flashed some impressive power in Sarasota in 2021. Playing in an already crowded outfield, Diaz carries a meager ZiPS projection of 90 wRC+/.310 wOBA/-0.2 WAR over 104 games for 2021.
Fans are hopeful he can finally parlay his spring pop into a major league lineup, and the new administration is hoping to salvage a little positive return on a previous investment.
At this point no one should be waiting on a return to glory for the former Dong City native. Most fans will be content with whatever production the weight room, swing changes, or Adderall can give us. It’s the $23M/year salary that Chris Davis will draw for each of the next two seasons that looms largest.
With Davis, the clock watching is no longer about the value he can bring, but the literal value his expired contract frees up.
Adley Rutschman’s MLB debut is undoubtedly the most anticipated event in Birdland. The hype around 2019’s best player in college baseball puts the “Mauer with power” 2010 Matt Wieters’ comps to shame. Baseball Savant’s scouting reports on Rutschman describe the switch-hitter as having an “incredibly advanced approach.” Scouts add that his already plus-defensive skills were further sharpened in his first “year” at Bowie in 2020. Adley has the skillset, mindset, leadership abilities, and infectious attitude you can build a winning club around.
When Adley Rutschman steps up to the show, time will stand still in Baltimore.