If predictions that are unfavorable to the Orioles get you stirred up, then don’t read the ESPN the Magazine’s 2014 MLB preview issue.
The magazine’s editors actually used a chemistry element in this year’s predictions. They tried to quantify clubhouse chemistry using three elements they called demographic factor, isolation factor and ego factor.
I give them credit for trying, but there are some things in this game you just can’t put a stat on. Anyway, the Orioles actually gained a win for chemistry.
Here is their American League East prediction:
* Tampa 93-69
* Boston 89-73
* New York 82-80
* Toronto 79-83
* Baltimore 77-85
Don’t shoot the messenger here. It’s not clear if this was done before the additions of Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz, but let’s just say I see the Orioles winning many more games than that.
The magazine writes this about Chris Davis:
“At the All-Star break, Chris Davis had a ridiculous home run percentage of 10.8, putting him on pace for 63 homers. But after the break, even though pitchers threw him strikes at a comparable rate, his HR% sank to 6.6, a 40-homer pace. Given that his career HR% before 2013 was 5.1 and never higher than 6.4 in any season, Crush is poised to come back to earth, bringing the Orioles back under .500.”
Meanwhile, even if Davis hits fewer homers this year, the online casino and sportsbook Bovada lists Davis as the favorite to lead the majors in homers in 2014.
Who will hit the most home runs in the 2014 regular season?
Chris Davis - 8/1
Miguel Cabrera - 9/1
Giancarlo Stanton - 10/1
Pedro Alvarez - 14/1
Jose Bautista - 16/1
Paul Goldschmidt - 16/1
Bovada lists Mike Trout as the 5/1 favorite to win the AL MVP award for 2014. Davis is listed at 16/1, Adam Jones at 20/1 and Manny Machado at 33/1.
Yu Darvish is the 8/1 favorite to win the Cy Young Award. Both Chris Tillman and Ubaldo Jimenez are listed at 33/1. If you want to place a wager on almost-Oriole Grant Balfour, you’ll get 50/1 odds.
When I interviewed Davis recently in Sarasota, he talked about the club’s excitement level going into this season, both before and after the acquisitions of Cruz and Jimenez.
“We were excited about what we had going into camp before we got those guys,” he said. “The fact we added late gave us a little boost. It gave us what we needed, a veteran guy who understands the grind of the season and who is going to give us quality start after quality start.
“They kind of surprised me with the Nelson Cruz signing. These guys are ready to win. They see the opportunity is right in front of us right now and we need to take every advantage of it that we can.”
Since we’ve seen a few predictions in recent days that were not high on the Orioles, I leave you today with Davis and his take on the club and it’s chance to win the AL East.
“Absolutely (we can). We had that ability last year, but just ran out of gas toward the end,” Davis said. “I think we led all of baseball in innings played by our starters. That showed down the stretch. The Tampa Bay series was the backbreaker. You could see our team be deflated. But we had the ability to win last year and we are definitely a better club now than we were at this time last year.”