With the Orioles report date for spring training fast approaching, today we take a look at the club’s position players heading into camp. Certainly, this could change pending any further roster moves.
O’s pitchers and catchers are due to report to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla., on Feb. 11 and the first full-squad workout is Feb. 17. The spring training opener is Feb. 22 against Atlanta and the 2020 season opener is March 26 at home versus the New York Yankees.
Here is a look at the players that started the most games at each position in 2019 and an early guess at who might do it this year.
It will surprise me if Davis gets that many starts this year. He started fewer games as last season wore on. I will project Mancini leading the club in first base starts, and who knows what, exactly, that means for Davis. That would open it up for the club to put another young outfielder on the field, and at some point they’ll need to make room for Ryan Mountcastle.
Second base: Jonathan Villar 86, Hanser Alberto 65.
I will guess Alberto will get a lot of starts at second, not going out on much of a limb. He could also platoon with Rio Ruiz at third, opening time at second for someone else. Would that be Richie Martin to play alongside José Iglesias, or does a longshot on a minor league deal, such as Dilson Herrera or José Rondón, get some time?
Third base: Ruiz 89, Alberto 58.
I think Ruiz will lead in third base starts again. He is worth taking a longer look at after he showed some solid defense at third along with decent plate discipline and some gap-to-gap pop in his bat.
Shortstop: Martin 90, Villar 72.
Martin may well begin the year at Triple-A to get more reps and experience while Iglesias takes over here and tries to provide both some plus defense and stability at short.
Severino was a late add last year and who knows, catcher could be a position where the Orioles scan the waiver wire late in camp once again. But I’ll project Severino leading in starts here in 2020.
This could be Santander’s spot to lose. The pop he showed until his late season falloff has to intrigue the team. Also, he held his own on defense.
Center field: Stevie Wilkerson 57, Keon Broxton 29.
Eight players made starts here last season, and that probably won’t happen again. Wilkerson’s days in center may be over, but credit to him for doing all he could once he was thrown out there. Austin Hays gets a great chance here, and O’s fans are hoping he continues what he did in September and truly runs with it. Pretty unlikely that Wilkerson and Broxton combine to make more than half the starts at this spot come late March.
Right field: Mancini 79, Santander 37.
This could be Mancini’s spot again if he’s in the outfield often. If he’s not, there is a long list of players who could wind up here from those we’ve already seen, including DJ Stewart, and some we have not yet seen, including Yusniel Diaz. When it comes to the outfield, Cedric Mullins is trying to work his way back, Smith is trying to show that his play early last year was not a fluke, and players like Mason Williams and Ryan McKenna would love to force their way onto the team.
Designated hitter: Renato Núñez 109, Mancini 17.
The O’s once again on paper have a bit of a logjam at first base and DH, but Núñez would be expected to get a lot of starts as of today. Mancini or even Mountcastle could factor in as well.