The early returns on the Orioles offense are pretty dreadful. They are currently 12th in the AL in runs scored, 10th in BA, last in OBP, 13th in slugging, last in wOBA and last in wRC+. They also have the AL’s worst walk rate and 3rd highest K rate.
Even with offenses down around the league, those numbers are U-G-L-Y!
However, does that mean Orioles nation should be in a panic? Well, not really. First of all, you have to remember that the sample size is still small. A few good games can change a lot and skew numbers, both good and bad (see Cedric Mullins‘ 5-5 game vs Boston as a proof of that). Secondly, the team doesn’t lack talented hitters. Between the OF, DH, first and third, there is enough talent from those spots that the offense should be decent. It’s just that so many of these guys are pressing and off to bad starts. As they say, it’s contagious. You are never as good as you look when you are hot and never as bad as you look when you are cold. That’s a cliché but it’s very true. There is a lot of luck involved.
That being said, the Orioles do have some concerns about the offense for the 2021 season. Will they get any offense from second, shortstop (although Freddy Galvis is one of the only players off to a good start) or catcher?
Can they stay healthy? We have already seen DJ Stewart, Austin Hays and now, Anthony Santander go on the IL. All of those players have shown that they will not be available for long stretches of time throughout their careers, so there is no reason to think that will change.
Essentially, the offense of this team is built on the OF/DH/CI spots. If you have several of those guys slumping at one time, the offense will do nothing and right now, many of those players are doing nothing.
If we aren’t getting production from them, the offense just isn’t going to be good. But again, we have to remember the sample size. Things like this are always blown out of proportion in the beginning of the season, so don’t panic about it. If these slumps happened in July, you would barely notice them. Things will even out; these guys are too good of hitters to hit this bad for much longer.
I think the big question isn’t, will these guys get better (because they obviously will), I think the question is, when do we start to see reinforcements?
Right now, you have a glut of OFer/DH-type guys. You can’t rely on any one of them to stay healthy, perform and be there every day outside of maybe Mountcastle (TBD but fair to believe he will be there) and Mancini.
So, that begs the question, when do we finally see Yusniel Diaz? Diaz is currently on the taxi squad and is likely slated to be in AAA to start the minor league season in a few weeks. If Diaz does play well, do they bring him up and if so, who is the odd man out?
Are players hurt? Does Mullins’ current cold streak continue and he ends up as the 4th or 5th OFer so many believe him to be?
I wouldn’t think a trade is made, at least not while Santander is out. I don’t think you trade anyone else yet because the value isn’t there. I think Diaz is part of the future of the O’s OF, IF he can stay healthy. I know some of the shine has come off of him because of health and that’s very fair. I’m a big fan but I don’t trust him right now. However, if he can stay healthy and be in the lineup every day, I think he is the best OFer we have that is either close to or in the majors. If he comes up, he has to play every day though. It’s OK for Ryan McKenna to play sparingly but you need Diaz playing every day, so Mike Elias & Co. will need some of this glut to figure itself out.
The team could alsobring up Jahmani Jones. He had a rough spring but is off to a great start in the alternate camp. Elias seemed to hint when they acquired him that he could be ML ready (he did play in the majors last year) and with the dreadful second base production the team is receiving so far, I could see him brought up sooner than later.
I also feel Chance Sisco will hit better…but will he get enough playing time for it to matter? When do we see Adley Rutschman? Will it be this year (as I believe it should) or will it be 2022? As long as he is healthy and reasonably producing in Bowie this year, I say bring him up by late July/early August. Why wait?
The bottom line right now though, is this offense is only going to really get fixed by the players who are here now. We just need to patient with this group but it becomes very difficult to be patient when they are always on the IL.
Let’s hope that changes soon because these young players need every day at bats and opportunities to get better, both now and for the future of the franchise.