The Orioles Infield

The Baltimore infield gave us quite a few fantasy relevant options last year. They had a player finish inside the top 12 at every position other than second base, and Chris Davis emerged as a complete stud. Their four fantasy relevant guys will return to their positions, but there are some questions about whether they’ll be able to repeat their value from last year.


Matt Wieters 565 19 2 58 75 0.25 0.315 0.408 0.735

The projection included is my own as are all the projections I’ll list for other players discussed below. Basically, I see Wieters’ BABIP rebounding and bringing his average and OBP back up with it while I see his power continuing to decline as it has done in each of the last two seasons.

If I’m right, a fifteen point jump in batting average and three fewer home runs should amount to close to a wash. That means Wieters will likely be a top 12 but not top ten fantasy catcher once again. His ADP over at is eighth among catchers, and his average pick is about 170. Again, if my projection is close, that’s too high a price for that level of production. Wieters should be going outside the top 200 overall in one-catcher mixed leagues.

First Base

Chris Davis 650 40 3 95 112 0.274 0.355 0.542 0.897

This is the third time I’ve written about Davis this off season. I covered him in depth here, and I also wrote his Fangraphs+ blurb. The short version of everything I’ve written is that I expect some regression just because that’s what happens in the season following an unreal, career year. But I don’t expect massive regression, which is something you could envision given Davis’ significant struggles early in his career. Davis’ average home run and fly ball distance increased last year, and he made some improvements in plate discipline. That should help mitigate the regression.

My guess is that most would consider this projection to be a very conservative one, especially in the power department. If that’s true and we look at this projection as something of a floor for Davis, that means he’s at worst a top 25 player. The line I have him projected for is slightly better than what Edwin Encarnacion did last year, and E5 finished 27th on ESPN’s player rater. Because power is such a rare commodity, I’d say Davis a top 20 player at worst. That makes him a mid-to-late second round pick in my book. You could even talk me into him being an early second round pick. But you most definitely couldn’t talk me into taking him in the top five, which is where he’s going over on MDC.

Second Base

There is no projection here because it’s unclear who is going to get the most work at this spot. Ryan Flaherty is listed atop the depth chart on, but prospect Jonathan Schoop and Jemile Weeks are in the mix as well. Things are further complicated by the fact that third base may be vacant to begin the season, and Flaherty is listed as the primary backup at that position. All three of these guys are projected for somewhere between 175 and 250 plate appearances at second base on our depth chart page. If one of them emerges with a secure hold on the job, I’m sure someone here will write them up in a waiver wire piece. But until then, there’s no fantasy use for a Baltimore second baseman.


J.J. Hardy 625 22 1 65 71 0.255 0.302 0.42 0.722

I’m fading Hardy’s power just a bit simply because he’s past 30 years old now. But his average home run and fly ball distance improved from 2012 to 2013, so there’s no red flag that Hardy’s about to lose his pop. He also added a percentage point to his swing percentage, and it was his Z-Swing% that went up not his O-Swing%. As a result, he pushed his strikeout rate down to an almost career low 11.3%. There’s not much upside, but there’s not a ton of downside either. He finished 2013 as the 10th most valuable shortstop, but he’s being drafted as the 17th shortstop on MDC, and just outside the top 250 overall. I’m hesitant to believe he’ll actually go that late in real drafts, but if he’s going anywhere near that late, he’ll be a nice value.

Third Base

Manny Machado 500 13 4 62 55 0.285 0.320 0.450 0.770

The big number is obviously the plate appearances. My projection is admittedly conservative, but it’s late February, and there still isn’t a return date set. With my number of 500 PA, I’m essentially guessing at a mid-to-late May return. I may be playing it too safe with that, but I would be really, really hesitant to enter the season relying on Machado, so I’m setting a PA number low enough so that I’m not tempted to do so.

No matter how many games he plays, I’m expecting an uptick in the power production. Machado was second in the league in doubles, but he has a decent average batted ball distance that indicates he may be capable of more than 14 home runs per 700 plate appearances. I’m projecting him to finish with one fewer home run than he had last year despite 200 fewer PA. If he were to top 600 PA, I could see him getting his home run total into the high teens.

Ultimately, Machado isn’t a huge fantasy producer. He’ll be above average in four of five categories but not elite in any of them. If you have benches that are bit deeper than normal, it’s fine to draft him, stash him, and roll with David Freese or something for a month or two. But if you’re working with small benches, I wouldn’t waste the roster spot.

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9 Responses to “The Orioles Infield”

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  1. benagain123 says:

    agree with Machado. High defensive guys like him, Gardner, get blown up a bit too much

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  2. potcircle says:

    flaherty is one of my favorite guys in deep al leagues… i think he’ll win the job because he’s a slightly better hitter and much better defender than weeks, and schoop is coming off a back injury….

    steamer has flaherty at 11 hr in 358 ab and i’d take the over on both… he’s 27, has under 500 abs in the show, and his babips have been awful… i dunno, a little luck could make him a pretty good value…

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  3. LHPSU says:

    The OPS math for Machado doesn’t add up.

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  4. kman says:

    I understand the projection on Chris Davis, and it’s reasonable, and I get that someone with those numbers would be around the 20-25th most valuable fantasy player. However, when writers then jump to the conclusion that they wouldn’t draft someone in the first round, that’s a call that’s impossible to make without analyzing the other players available and seeing who you would take over them. I bet your projections for several first rounders are only good enough to put them around the top 20, but that’s because there are probably other players who will emerge who will become top 20 fantasy players in 2014 who aren’t drafted in the first two rounds.

    The more relevant question, is besides for trout, miggy, goldschmidt, mccutchen, can you name 7 other players who you project to be better than Chris Davis? I figure you’d have a hard time doing that unless you’re very high on Braun and Bryce Harper and very optimistic about the health of Hanley, Tulo, CarGo. Even then that only brings you to around 10 players.

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    • Brett Talley says:

      That’s an excellent point. I could get to 10-12 players I’d definitely rather have than Davis, but you’re right, I can’t do much more than that. Still think four is too high but couldn’t argue with anything outside the top ten.

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  5. Cap'n Scrappy says:

    I think the projection on Davis is reasonable, but my first thought was not that it’s conservative. Just my own take. I think 40 is probably spot on for HRs, but I’d go under for the BA and OBP you projected.

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