The Baltimore Orioles were an atrocious team last year with a grand total of 54 wins. There were really only two high profile valuable fantasy options last year, Trey Mancini and Jon Villar. Both of whom will be not be contributing to the worst team in baseball. Mancini had surgery to remove a malignant tumor, and there isn’t a timetable for his return, while Villar was traded to the Miami Marlins. Prior to Mancini’s surgery, he was the only member of the Orioles to be ranked within the top 250 (ADP 140, FantasyPros). For us DFS players this year, the Orioles will never be used as a full stack for 98% of slates. There may be scattered one-offs or mini 3 player stacks slightly more frequently depending on the matchups. There is no player that is projected to have .320 wOBA or higher. Nonetheless, there are only 4 players that I would be considering for my drafts: Austin Hays, Renato Nunez, Anthony Santander, and John Means. The rest of the lineup and rotation are waiver pick-ups during hot streaks and nothing more. Unlike almost every other team that I will be previewing or have previewed, I will not be listing a breakout, bust, or MVP, as there is really no one that demands those labels. There is not a single player that I believe will have a huge breakout season or overperform their draft position, just as there is no player that will be completed over-drafted that deserves to be given the bust label. As for their MVP, none of them are deserved of having that listed next to their name. Therefore, I will just be breaking down these four guys that could have at least some fantasy value for your teams this year.
Austin Hays (ADP 295): Do not get too overexcited with Hays, 24 years old, impressive finish to the 2019 season. He generated a .309/.373/.574 slash over 75 plate appearances over the final month of the season with a .393 wOBA. The primary reason for his pretty slash line was his success vs. fastballs (predominantly 4-seam and sinkers) as he posted a .498 wOBA vs the 150 fastball pitches he saw last year. That is simply not sustainable, not even close to someone of his caliber. For an extreme example, Mike Trout only had a .426 wOBA vs 4-seam fastballs last year. He was utterly atrocious vs breaking balls and off-speed pitches in 2019. There are a lot of variables obviously for a player that was just called up. He is adjusted to the big leagues in multiple ways particularly adjusting to the pitches he has never seen before. Prior to coming up to the big leagues, in 275 PA, he accumulated a .324 wOBA with a below-average walk rate (4.3%) and K rate (23.7%). Hays is nothing to write home about and I believe his ADP is inflated due to his success in the final month of the 2019 season and leadoff potential. He doesn’t have tremendous power upside (15-20 HR), won’t hit for a high average, has very little patience at the plate, strikes out at a high rate, and will not provide for a ton of runs (even with leading off).
ZiPS projection: .250/.289/.441 slash line with 21 HR’s/67 RBI’s/61 runs and a .304 wOBA
Renato Nunez (ADP 273): Nunez is probably going to be the most reliable Orioles hitter this year as he is the highest-ranked player on the Orioles according to his ADP. Just like the rest of the Orioles squad, there is nothing overly exciting about him. He is not a multi-dimensional player that can contribute across the fantasy board, but he does have some power potential. Depending on which site you use for fantasy he is eligible at 1B/3B, which is already bogged down with power. However, he will very likely be hitting in the middle of this depleted Orioles lineup and will have more RBI opportunities than any other Oriole. His ZiPS projections are very similar to what he totaled last year as you typically see some wild swings with other fringe late rounds picks.
ZiPS projections: .241/.304/.461 slash line with 29 HR/85 RBI’s/69 runs and a .319 WOBA (highest of any Orioles hitter).
Anthony Santander (ADP 345): I honestly expected Santander to have the highest ADP of any Orioles hitter. He was steadily used in DFS with Orioles stacks last year and got some “breakout” recognition with his 20 HRs and .321 wOBA in 400+ PA’s last season. One would expect an uptick in production over 550+ PA’s coming into the 2020 season, but I am not a believer and it doesn’t seem that the fantasy industry has bought into Santander as being a legitimate fantasy contributor. I always like to look at batted ball rates for players like Santander who are new fantasy attractions to see if there can be that uptick in production. He has a 17% Line Drive (LD) rate which is a solid posting and a 43% Fly Ball (FB) rate. Most importantly though he only had a 12.5% HR/FB. That is way too low to see an uptick in power production as most guys with similar LD/FB rates that are hitting 30+ HR will have an HR/FB rate over 20% and even reaching 25+%. I am not buying into Santander being a quality third OF for fantasy teams this season. Let others be disappointed in his overall production and lack of fantasy value in every category.
ZiPS projections: .254/.294/.425 slash line with 20 HR’s/71 RBI’s/63 runs and a .302 wOBA.
John Means (ADP 335): Means is the only Orioles starting pitcher that has any value in fantasy this season. Having said that, there is nothing in his peripheral numbers that suggest he is going to have a “breakout” season and improve on his mediocre first full season with the Orioles. He had an average strikeout rate (7.03) and walk rate (2.21), but he was incredibly lucky last year (which mostly due to his inability to get ground balls (30.9% GB)). His BABIP (batting average on balls in play) was ridiculously low .252, which is more likely for someone who gives up fewer ground balls and more fly balls, which should rise this season. He also had a very lucky 82% LOB (left on base) in the first half of the season and combined with his low BABIP attributed to his first-half 2.50 ERA. For this season, he will absolutely provide you innings being the O’s number one starting pitcher and an adequate number of strikeouts but do not expect help in any other category. He doesn’t have that certain out pitch, or dominant 1-2 pitch that will punch you out to see a spike in K’s. I see really no upside with Means. Don’t expect to see major bumps in production.
ZiPS projection: 4.78 ERA/4.84 FIP with a 6.84 K/9, 2.18 BB/9, and a 1.59 HR/FB
Justin has been a DFS pro for 5 years now, focusing primarily on NHL and MLB. He has won numerous tournaments on Draft Kings and FanDuel and has made it to multiple live finals for hockey. Prior to becoming a DFS pro, he was an associate scout for the Toronto Blue Jays.