The Orioles have the makings of a decent lineup

There seems to be a perception among some that the Orioles’ offense is sadly lacking. Maybe when stacked up to that of Boston or New York that is true, but the Orioles had an offense that ranked around league average in the American League in 2011.

Here are eight team statistical categories from last year, and the Orioles ranked near or above league average in five of them:

Runs: 723 was AL avg. while O’s scored 708 to rank seventh.
Average: .258 was AL avg. while O’s were at .257 to rank sixth.
Doubles: 286 was AL avg. while O’s produced 273 to rank ninth.
Triples: 29 was AL avg. while O’s produced 13 to rank 14th.
Homers: 162 was AL avg. while O’s hit 191 to rank fourth.
OBP: .322 was AL avg. while O’s were at .316 to rank 10th.
Slugging: .407 was AL avg. while O’s were at .413 to rank sixth.
OPS: .730 was AL avg. while O’s were at .729 to rank seventh.

I think three players may be the key to this offense in 2012: Nolan Reimold, Chris Davis and Nick Markakis. All three are capable of very solid seasons at the bat. How will Reimold and Davis do if given everyday playing time? Can Markakis rebound to put up numbers more like 2009 when he hit .293 with 45 doubles, 18 homers, 101 RBIs and a slugging percentage of .453?

J.J. Hardy could be a candidate to see his performance fall off after hitting a career-high 30 homers in just 129 games. That helped his slugging percentage exceed his career mark by 56 points at .491. But many of his other stats were in line with his career averages.

In his Sunday blog, ESPNs Buster Olney called Reimold a candidate to hit leadoff if Brian Roberts can’t go. I put together a possible lineup with Reimold at the top and it looks like this:

LF - Nolan Reimold
RF - Nick Markakis
SS - J.J. Hardy
CF - Adam Jones
3B - Mark Reynolds
C - Matt Wieters
DH - Wilson Betemit
1B - Chris Davis
2B - Robert Andino

Hardy, Reynolds and Jones were the top three on the Orioles last year in both RBIs and slugging percentage and I can see them filling the middle of the order spots to begin the season.

With all the time and work that Wieters will have to put in to catch all the new pitchers, I think batting him sixth is just fine at this point. Batting Andino ninth gives the Orioles two of their fastest players batting ninth and first back-to-back starting the second time through the order.

While there are plenty of questions about the O’s pitching staff, the offense at least has the potential to be solid and maybe even above average.

What is your take?: How do you feel about the potential of the Orioles offense? Would Reimold be a decent choice for leadoff hitter? Who should bat cleanup? Will the O’s score more runs this year than they did in 2011?

For those in the York, Pa. area: Zion Lutheran Church will hold its second annual baseball talk at 7 p.m. tonight in the church’s sanctuary, 2215 Brandywine Lane, York, Pa. This year’s event features: Mel Antonen, baseball writer for MASN and and a Sirius/XM talk show host; Dan Connolly, Orioles/national baseball writer for The Baltimore Sun; and Jim Seip, York Revolution beat writer for the York Daily Record/York Sunday News.

The writers will present their thoughts on the upcoming baseball season - Orioles, Phillies, Nationals, all MLB, plus the Revolution and the Atlantic League -- and will answer questions from the audience. There is no admission fee, but a freewill offering will be taken to benefit the church’s youth ministry program.

For more information, contact the church at 717-767-4673.

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