Will the O's need to hit more homers in the 2024 season?

Earlier this week, in a blog about the Orioles 2023 offense, it was noted that while the club finished fourth in the American League scoring 4.98 runs per game, they were not rated that highly in some other stats like team batting average (sixth), OBP (tied for seventh), slugging (seventh) and team OPS (eighth).

The Orioles were very strong, leading the American League and all of MLB in batting average (.287) with runners in scoring position and team OPS (.837) with RISP. Those are real strong numbers and could well be hard to duplicate.

One area on the stat sheet that the club could hope for some improvement would be in hitting homers. The Orioles have hit fewer homers in two seasons now that the left-field wall is much deeper at Camden Yards. But they actually moved up a bit in team rankings in the AL in homers, despite hitting fewer.

Here is the look at the last four full seasons for the Orioles, two before the wall was moved back and two after.

In 2019 the O’s hit 213 homers to rank 12th in the AL. In 2021 they hit 195 to rank 10th. In 2022, after the wall was moved, they hit 171 but that was eighth and last year they hit 183 and that rated ninth in the AL.

In 2019, Trey Mancini led the club with 35 homers and Renato Nunez was next with 31. In 2021, Ryan Mountcastle led the club with 33 and Cedric Mullins hit 30. In 2022, Anthony Santander hit 33 and Mountcastle was next at 22. Last year both Gunnar Henderson and Santander hit 28 each to tie for the team lead.

More homers could simply come via several individuals topping their 2023 totals. Henderson and Santander both could exceed 28, so could Adley Rutschman who ranked third with 20 on the team last year. Next came Ryan Mountcastle with 18, Austin Hays with 16 and Mullins with 15. All three of those players could exceed their totals and maybe by several home runs.

For just one season of data, the 2023 season, there was a good correlation in the American League among teams that scored a lot and those that homered the most.

Team homers leaders in 2023, AL

233 – Minnesota, Texas

231 – Los Angeles Angels

230 – Tampa Bay

222 – Houston

219 – New York Yankees

210 – Seattle

Of the top five scoring teams in the league in 2023, only the Orioles are not listed above. Texas, Tampa Bay and Houston were the top three scoring teams in the league with Minnesota fifth, Seattle seventh, the Angels ninth and New York 11th.

Maybe this is a full circle moment for an O’s offense. There was a time when Birdland tired of the club’s reliance on homers and wanted the team to better work the count and better work the pitchers. Improve their on-base capabilities. Now that the team is better at that and ranks fourth in runs scored, they are further down the pack in home runs.

There is nothing wrong with getting runs via small ball, putting pressure on the defense or doubles in the gap. But sometimes that 400-plus foot blast to left-center for a quick two or three runs is a nice sight also and can turn around a game, break one open or make a big impact.

Do the O’s need more homers in 2024?

O's farm is No. 1 and by a wide margin: The last few days MLBPipeline.com has released a series of articles where they surveyed front office execs from all 30 big league teams about prospects and young talent in baseball. 

In the last part of a four-part series, they released the results of the executives voting on which farm system is the best in the majors. The Orioles were voted No. 1 by the execs in an overwhelming fashion. They got 79 percent of the votes with the Dodgers and Pirates each getting four percent of the vote. The other clubs combined to get 13 percent of the vote.  

Pretty impressive for the Baltimore farm getting voted as far and away the best in the sport by the other teams.

The article states: "It’s not a surprise that the Orioles led the voting here. They topped the survey a year ago and have been at the top of our farm system rankings for five straight editions, dating back to the 2021 midseason re-rank. It is noteworthy just how much of a runaway this was, though, especially given the graduations to Baltimore that helped it reach the postseason in 2023. But the industry clearly has a favorite."

Earlier in this series, the Orioles' Jackson Holliday got the second-most votes to win the 2024 AL Rookie of the Year award. Texas outfielder Evan Carter got 36 percent of the vote and Holliday got 30 percent.  

 

 

 

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