On April 1, the MLB will launch the activities of its 2021 season. Rob Manfred has taken the bet to see his teams play 162 games in a time of pandemic.
So here is what to expect from the various major baseball teams.
On the menu today: the Baltimore Orioles.
In 2020 the Orioles have obviously been underperforming, but that’s part of their long rebuilding process.
However, even though the season only featured 60 games, it’s nice for them to report that they didn’t finish last in their division, just ahead of the Boston Red Sox. Real progress in itself given the poor results of previous years!
We will also remember some solid individual performances which have cleared up an obviously dark year, especially in times of pandemic.
Additions and Departures
Side arrivals, the Orioles have relied mainly on free players. This is obviously logical in view of the current strategy: we do not compromise on our young nuggets which are the basis of the project of tomorrow. However, do not expect big names or an upscale workforce in 2021: the O’s have brought in retaliatory old hands and a few expensive seconds, found here and there.
The most emblematic is Félix Hernandez, but he is still only a guest of the spring camp. We also find Matt Harvey and Freddy Galvis, the shortstop well known to fans of the Phillies and Blue Jays. It will finally have to revive.
As for the departures, you have to see the positive side of things: the various bleedings of the past seasons have sufficiently emptied the workforce so that we have new spectacular losses. The workforce was therefore not greatly upset.
Note, however, the departures of Renato Nuñez, free party with the Tigers, and José Iglesias, traded to the Angels. Starter Alex Cobb was also traded to the Angels. It won’t help the rotation.
Strengths and weaknesses
While remaining measured, the attack will be interesting to follow, drawn by young people eager to show themselves.
Thus, Ryan Mountcastle will be the most scrutinized. The very talented first or third baseman will be Baltimore’s attraction. Outfielder Yusniel Diaz and Austin Hays will have some playing time, as will Cedric Mullins. However, the big star could be the first pick in the 2018 draft, receiver Adley Rutschman, who could point his nose.
Finally, DJ Stewart will be able to confirm and the Orioles will be able to rejoice, like everyone else, in the return of Trey Mancini after his victorious fight against cancer.
As for weaknesses, the lack of defensive performance will be glaring. Indeed, apart from John Means, no runner can yet claim the status of indisputable starter.
Starters Keegan Akin, Dean Kremer and Zac Lowther will have a good opportunity in 2021.
Finally, the team is young and without much experience. Obviously, this will have an impact on the results in close matches.
What to expect in 2021?
The main objective is to progress and identify the players who will form the backbone of tomorrow. However, to give substance to this strategy and encourage its audience, the O’s must now move up a gear in terms of results. We must avoid 100 losses at all costs.