If last year was any indication of what we can expect form the Orioles outfield, then fantasy owners are going to want to get in on the action again this season. The breakout season of Adam Jones was huge, the shortened but pleasant return to form of Nick Markakis was a nice surprise, and although injuries and match-up playing cluttered up left field most of the time, the O’s still managed to get decent production out of the spot on the whole. Jones and Markakis return again in 2013 and while left field is still being settled, should all go according to plan, the outfield should remain a quality source of fantasy production this year.
As always, we begin with the basic depth chart…
|Left Field:||Nolan Reimold||Nate McClouth||Russ Canzler|
|Center Field:||Adam Jones||Nate McClouth||Xavier Avery|
|Right Field:||Nick Markakis||Nate McClouth||Chris Dickerson|
Left Field: Let’s start here as, currently, this is the only unsettled position in the Baltimore outfield as Nolan Reimold and Nate McClouth are still competing for the starting job. Heading into the 2012 season, the job belonged to Reimold, but a neck injury cut his season down to just 16 games. In his absence, the Orioles had a few band-aids put on, but finally settled on McLouth who played fairly well for them down the stretch and hit .268 with seven home runs , 18 RBI and 12 stolen bases over 209 second half at-bats. The plan was to have the two compete this spring, but the general assumption was that Reimold would be the primary guy. However, a shoulder injury seems to have hampered Reimold this spring, leaving the door open for McLouth yet again. There is the possibility of a straight lefty/righty platoon, but neither player has splits that would indicate much call for that. It could just come down to who is swinging the hot bat at the moment, although if both are playing well, we could see them swap in and out of the DH spot as well. Reimold is just returning from his shoulder issue, so this situation should be monitored over the next couple of weeks.
Center Field: The 2012 season was major breakout campaign for Adam Jones and those who drafted him reaped major benefits from start to finish. He didn’t do anything to change his approach, maintaining similar strikeout and walk rates, but saw a nice increase in power as he entered his prime years. Sore wrists slowed him a bit in June and he did have an August swoon, but he pounded another six home runs over the final month to finish strong and give him a career-best 32 homers on the year. While he enters that magical age-27 year here in 2013, an increase isn’t really expected. Given the consistency with his approach and the power spike that came last season, he is more likely to maintain his totals rather than improve. Still, that’s not so bad and certainly worthy of some early-round attention in drafts.
Right Field: While a broken hamate bone wiped out all of June and a broken thumb cut the end of his season short, Nick Markakis did have himself a nice season, relatively speaking. Despite appearing in a career-low 104 games, Markakis maintained his improved strikeout rate from the year before and saw a nice return of his power when he posted a ,174 ISO, the highest it’s been since 2008. It’s not clear whether or not that will return this year as hand surgery and thumb surgery in the same year could have an adverse effect. However, he was never a big home run hitter to begin with, so it’s not like we’re losing some great power hitter. Markakis’ assets come in the form of consistency and a nice average. He’s not likely one whom you would target in drafts, but when you’re looking to round out your outfield, he makes for a decent option. That is, of course, if the problems with the herniated disc in his neck don’t persist and become a nagging problem all year.
The Orioles have a number of players vying for a fifth outfielder spot right now — Lew Ford, Chris Dickerson, Trayvon Robinson, Xavier Avery and even Russ Canzler, should he not be needed as a back-up in the infield. While none are likely to blow you away with their numbers, each player has his merits. Ford has age and experience to offer, Dickerson is a lefty bat with some speed and experience, Robinson and Avery are both young but offer some speed (Robinson, a touch of pop too), and Canzler offers some pop and a fair amount of versatility in the field. The battle should come down to Ford, Dickerson and Canzler as both Robinson and Avery still have options left. Fantasy owners need not be concerned unless we hear of more injury difficulties from camp though as none are expected to see much playing time if the starters (and the loser of the left field job) remain healthy.
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