Will the Orioles offense improve in 2020?

Will the Orioles offense be better in 2020? Full seasons from players including Anthony Santander and Austin Hays and others could help that.

While the Orioles offense was better in the 2019 second half, it ranked mostly from 11th to 13th in the American League in various categories for the full season.

Here is a look at some of them with Major League Baseball average and where the Orioles ranked in the American League:

Runs per game: MLB average was 4.83, O’s at 4.50 (11th in AL).
Batting average: MLB average was .252, O’s at .246 (tied for 12th in AL).
OBP: MLB average was .323, O’s at .310 (12th in AL).
Slugging: MLB average was .435, O’s at .415 (tied for 11th in AL).
OPS: MLB average was .758, O’s at .725 (13th in AL).

Mancini-Runs-White-Sidebar.jpgThe Orioles’ strikeout rate was 23.2 percent, just above the MLB average of 23.0. The club walk rate of 7.5 percent rated below the MLB average of 8.5. Orioles hitters on average saw 3.89 pitches per plate appearance last summer, just below the MLB average of 3.90.

The Orioles offense produced more runs as the season went on.

Here are the O’s runs per game and OPS by month -
April: 4.2 and .695
May: 4.1 and .718
June: 4.3 and .704
July: 5.1 and .736
August: 4.6 and .765
September: 4.9 and .743

AL team averages for 2019: .253/.323/.439 with 4.9 runs per game, 1.4 home runs per game, .761 OPS.
O’s in 2019 second half: .255/.320/.433 with 4.9 runs per game, 1.5 home runs per game and .753 OPS.

With a pitching staff expected to rank near the bottom of the league again, producing more on offense could be one way for the Orioles to show improvement this year.

Of course while the Orioles can hope some young players will progress on offense, some players could be challenged to do as well as they did in 2019. They might regress. That group could include Trey Mancini, Hanser Alberto and Renato Núñez, for instance.

The Orioles will be without second baseman Jonathan Villar, who was a big part of the team’s offense trending up after the break. He finished fifth in the American League in runs (111), tied for ninth in hits (176) and third in steals (40).

How will the Orioles fare on offense this season? Which players should improve?

Boston trades Betts: I guess the rich don’t always get richer or better in baseball, because the Boston Red Sox last night traded their best player, outfielder Mookie Betts. He was the American League MVP in 2018. His combined numbers over the past two years show a line of .319/.413/.578 with a .991 OPS that was 58 percent better than the league, and he hit 61 homers.

Betts, who will earn $27 million in his final season before he hits free agency after 2020, is going to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with lefty David Price, who is owed $96 million over the next three years. Some cash will go from Boston to Los Angeles in the deal, but the Red Sox just traded an MVP and the pitcher who had the second-best ERA in their rotation in 2019.

That gained Boston some payroll flexibility, but is Boston a team in need of that? They were going to go over the luxury tax for the third year in a row, and now they probably will not. But they also seemed to feel they could not sign Betts long-term, so they cut bait now.

It was a three-team deal, with Boston getting young outfielder Alex Verdugo from the Dodgers and pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol from Minnesota, who was ranked No. 60 recently in Baseball America’s top 100. He can touch 100 mph and has what some scouts grade as an 80 fastball, but he also had Tommy John surgery in 2016 and missed time last year with shoulder soreness. Verdugo, who posted an .817 OPS at age 23, does have five years of team control left. So the Red Sox gave up a top player and a solid, yet very expensive pitcher for young talent, the opposite of a deal we see from most contenders.

Los Angeles added two key players in an attempt to end several years of October frustrations. For all their winning in recent years, the Dodgers’ last World Series title was in 1988.

The Twins quietly did pretty well, it appears, adding right-hander Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers. Maeda has posted a 3.87 ERA the last four years. The Twins, who won 101 games last season, have now added Maeda, along with Josh Donaldson, Jake Odorizzi, Homer Bailey and Sergio Romo, among others.

No Mookie in Boston? Yep, it’s true.

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