Good news everybody, Orioles pitchers and catchers will be reporting to Sarasota in just one month! We’ll be entering the home stretch soon, and the Orioles have made a few moves to address offseason needs. For example, the trade for Seth Smith addresses the need for more OBP, and a dependable right fielder. And, the Welington Castillo one-year contract (player option for year two) is a stop gap deal to lock down the backstop while they wait out Chance Sisco. But what the Orioles haven’t addressed (yet) is, who will be the primary DH in 2017?
Maybe they have an in-house option, in Trey Mancini, and they’re not concerned much? Maybe Mark Trumbo re-signs with the Orioles and becomes their primary DH? The same goes for Pedro Alvarez for that matter. Maybe Castillo DH’s on games when Caleb Joseph catches. Maybe Hyun-Soo Kim DH’s on a Sunday.
Last season, Orioles DH’s finished two HR’s shy of the American League lead, with 42. They were two behind Red Sox DH’s, who smashed 44 HR’s. That’s all well and dandy, but I have said it many of time over the past year, home runs don’t (necessarily) win you championships. The Orioles have led the world in homers recently, however, they don’t give out championship rings for home runs.
I’ll continue with the theme of needing to improve OBP for 2017. DH’s last season finished with a combined OBP of .317, which was nestled nicely in the bottom half of the American League (three-way tie between the Orioles, White Sox, and Angels for 11th place) in that category.
Is it really such a big deal who the Orioles have at DH? Well, yeah, it is. In the American League, of the top five teams’ DH’s with the highest OPS’ last season (Red Sox, Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Indians), four-of-five teams made the playoffs, two won their division, and one went to the World Series.
And let’s not get things twisted here, I’m not saying, by any means, if you have a good hitting DH, you’re a lock for the postseason.
So who could be the best option to become the primary DH for the Orioles in a few months?
There’s rumblings around right now that Mark Trumbo would be willing to sign a cheaper deal to return to the Orioles. I guess he realized there isn’t much of a market for another guy who can’t play the field that well, and who is an all-or-nothing kind of player.
Trumbo has drawn interest from not only the Orioles, but from the Rockies, Athletics, and most recently, the Rangers have checked-in on him as well.
In 2016, Trumbo DH’ed 59 times, hitting .243/.296/.496/.791, with 16 HR’s, and ten doubles. Not too shabby, however, Pedro Alvarez appeared as DH in 87 games, slashing .258/.333/.533/.866, with 22 home runs, and 17 doubles.
There’s another name that could be a good fit back with the Orioles.
If the Orioles don’t re-sign either one of those guys, where does Trey Mancini fit into this equation? I guess it would have to look something like this:
X + Y – C = B
X = Mark Trumbo
Y = Pedro Alvarez
C = An Orioles Contract
B = Trey Mancini as DH
My next math class begins in a week, so I’m preparing myself. Don’t sue me.
Without re-signing either Trumbo, or Alvarez, you have to assume that the immediate candidate for DH becomes Trey Mancini. The three home runs he hit in five games was nice, but is that something he’d be able to produce all season long?
One concern you should have regarding Mancini, is that he struck out 47 more times in the minors last season, than he did the season prior. He played in just six more games.
Mancini’s minor league career .357 OBP is reassuring, plus his .829 OPS could be beneficial for an Orioles lineup that has plenty of pop in it already.