This is the second to last installment of my 2011 O’s season preview. I’ll be finishing up later this week with a quick grade of the new Buck Showalter-selected coaching staff. In March, I’ll talk more about the upcoming season as well as make some predictions. However, I’ll reserve that until we see some Spring games first (they start Monday, folks).
Without further adieu, the outfield and designated hitter.
The Orioles are quite fine, thanks, when it comes to their outfield positions. In fact, I’d be surprised not to see a trade (for a quality 3rd starter) involving one of them. The starters are solid – Luke Scott in left field, Adam Jones in center field and Nick Markakis in right field.
Scott is coming off a 27 home run, .284 average season at DH. The biggest question mark for him is his defensive play, but I think it is blown out of proportion. Last season in 14 games in the outfield he had a 1.000 fielding percentage. His last lengthy stay on defense came in 2008 and he posted a .990 fielding percentage. That’ll be just fine if he hits 25 or 30 homers.
Adam Jones is a potential All-Star perennially, but he needs to be more consistent for the long season. Last year he hit a solid .284 and 19 home runs.
Finally, Nick Markakis – a fan and personal favorite. He needs to bounce back from a “sluggish” 2010 that saw him hit .297 but only drive in 60 runs. The year before he drove in over 100 runs.
The O’s also have depth with Felix Pie and Nolan Reimold. I don’t expect both to be with the O’s on April 1 in Tampa, but I do think they’ll both be in the organization (unless a solid 2nd or 3rd starter is offered with prospects).
The addition of the Orioles final piece of the player puzzle in 2011 at designated hitter, will help the cause for Markakis.
Last but certainly not the least in my preview is Vladimir Guerrero. Vlad is a seasoned veteran who those of us in Central PA remember from his days with the Harrisburg Senators. Everyone else will remember him best for his Anaheim Angels days, and everyone in Texas will remember him for the run to the Series last year. How he will be remembered in Baltimore remains to be seen (Sammy Sosa ring a bell?). Vlad hit .300 with 29 home runs in 2010, a season in which he played 152 games. He struggled down the stretch, but if he hits 30 home runs before August, we’ll take it.