2019 Record: 54-108
Fifth Place, AL East
Team ERA: 5.59 (30th in MLB)
Team OPS: .725 (25th in MLB)
What Went Right
Somehow, there was a team worse than the Orioles in 2019, so they didn't finish with the worst record in baseball. The breakout star of this team -- and yes, you can have a breakout star when you lose 108 games, believe it or not -- was Trey Mancini, who hit an impressive .291/.364/.535 with 31 homers and 97 RBI in 154 games. Jonathan Villar was able to pick up 40 steals and 24 homers in his first full season with Baltimore. Hanser Alberto was one of the few pleasant surprises for the Orioles, hitting .305 with 12 homers after coming over from the Rangers in the offseason. There was very, very little that went right with the pitching staff, but John Means looks like an answer after putting up a 3.60 ERA in 155 innings, and Hunter Harvey -- once one of the top prospects in baseball -- was able to show flashes of brilliance in a brief call-up with a 15.4 K/9 rate and 1.42 ERA in seven appearances.
What Went Wrong
Because the Orioles didn't finish with the worst record in baseball -- congrats to the Tigers and their 114 losses -- they won't have the first pick, so it's a 108-loss season without that benefit. The fact I included Harvey in the 'what went right' should tell you everything about how awful this pitching staff was, with Means the only starter who finished the year with an ERA below 4.00. The bullpen wasn't much better, and while Mychal Givens was able to finish the year with 86 strikeouts in 63 innings, he also finished with just 11 saves and a 4.57 ERA. The hitting wasn't much better. Chris Davis continues to perform -- for lack of a better term -- as one of the least valuable players in baseball, putting up a line of .179/.276/.326 with 139 strikeouts in 100 games. We won't even mention how much he was paid for that line. The simple fact is that the Orioles were better in 2019 than they were in 2018, but only because it would almost be impossible to be worse.
** Givens continues to show electric stuff at times, but also continues to struggle to locate that stuff and will turn 30 next May. With Baltimore almost assuredly locked into the opposite of playoff contention, Givens will likely be given another chance to be the stopper for Baltimore coming into spring training. Because he can miss bats, it's possible a breakout season is coming, but we can certainly understand if you didn't bet on it.
** Anthony Santander was another of the pleasant surprises for the Orioles at times, hitting 20 homers in just 90 games. He also posted just a .261 average and .297 on-base percentage in those games, and the approach at the plate leaves a lot to be desired. Keep in mind that Santander still 24 for another couple of weeks, and the former Rule 5 pick is light on experience. There are very few players on the Orioles who have a chance at fantasy relevance. I think Santander might be one of them.
** Dylan Bundy is a former top prospect who has shown flashes of being a competent starter that have almost always been followed by moments that suggest the exact opposite. He was able to strike out 162 in 161 1/3 innings in 2019, but he also posted a 4.76 ERA and allowed 29 homers in 30 starts. Bundy will turn 27 next year. Time is running out.
** Baltimore has seen their farm system improve significantly, but the majority of the top prospects are not ready to contribute just yet. There are two exceptions, however, in Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays. Mountcastle was held down all year with the "working on his defense" excuse, and while this is not Pete Alonso, he is a right-handed hitting first baseman who can hit for average and power. Hays, on the other hand came up and performed brilliantly in his 21 games, registering a .947 OPS with four homers in 68 at-bats. Both should spend most of the 2020 season with Baltimore, and at the very least, they're worth monitoring.
Key Free Agents: Mark Trumbo
Team Needs: Everything is too easy, but, outside of second base and the corner outfield spots, pretty much everything. If Baltimore is going to be even sort of competitive, they need to made serious upgrades to the pitching staff and add a middle-of-the-order bat or two. It'll be interesting to see if Baltimore even attempts this rout considering how much better the other teams in this division are -- yes, even Toronto has a vastly superior roster -- but if they are interested in being relevant in 2020, they're going to need to make a lot of moves or see some serious improvement from players next summer.