I would imagine we all can agree that the Orioles’ biggest offseason priority is to upgrade the pitching staff for the 2012 season.
But how do you feel about the offense?
In several team batting categories, the Orioles were average - or a little above - average this year. They finished fourth in the American League in homers (191), sixth in average (.257), sxith in slugging (.413), seventh in runs (708) and seventh in OPS (.729).
The AL average, by the way, was 723 runs scored and .730 in OPS.
The Orioles’ offense was clicking the best at the end of the year, scoring six or more runs in 12 of the last 15 games of the year and averaging 5.9 runs in those final 15 contests.
Most of the hitters in the lineup were swinging well in those final couple of weeks and the Orioles averaged 5.0 runs per game in September.
You cannot quantify team speed simply off of stolen bases, but the Orioles stole 29 in the season’s last month, nearly double their next highest monthly total of 15. Matt Angle stole 10 of 11 bases then and his ability to run and bunt and advance runners didn’t hurt at all.
Two areas where the Orioles’ offense was not good on the year was in the leadoff and cleanup spots, two pretty key positions in the batting order. Orioles leadoff batters hit just .240 this year and their cleanup hitters drove in just 65 runs. They got fewer RBIs from only the No. 9 spot in the order.
Nolan Reimold was another key late in the year. He hit .281 in September with five homers, 17 RBIs, a .973 OPS and six steals in six attempts. Isn’t it time to just turn left field over to Reimold full time in 2012?
Maybe 2012 will feature Reimold in left and Chris Davis getting a full-time chance at third base as Mark Reynolds takes over at first. Why not see what Reimold and Davis could do with 500 or 600 at-bats?
At this point, O’s fans can only be hoping, not expecting, that Brian Roberts will return to the top of the order. Roberts’ return to health and top form would be so huge for the club in 2012.
What happens at the DH spot will be interesting to see. Does Luke Scott return, even if he is not-tendered? Could the Orioles use a revolving door at DH and use it as a spot to insert more speed with a guy like Angle getting occasional starts there or Angle in left and Reimold as the DH at times?
To me, the bottom line is that the Orioles’ lineup is already mostly set for the 2012 season and looks pretty decent. This team needs to fix its pitching because its offense may already be good enough to win with.
Follow Steve Melewski on Twitter: @MASNSteve