Ryan O’Hearn didn’t have a lot time to speak within the Orioles’ clubhouse earlier than he went out to the sphere, however he didn’t want it.
The query wasn’t one which required a long-winded reply: How would you describe the 2023 Orioles in a single phrase?
“That’s a really hard question,” he responded.
Other Orioles gamers mentioned the identical factor earlier than touchdown on totally different phrases. Danny Coulombe mentioned “magical.” Tyler Wells provided “underdogs.” Gunnar Henderson cheated a bit and used the hyphenated “never-give-up” to explain the staff’s perspective.
As O’Hearn rummaged by his locker, he paused and grinned.
“Because it’s an awesome word, and it fits our team.”
What about his common season? A yr in the past, he was a Kansas City Royal coming off a yr during which he spent extra video games on the bench than within the lineup and hit simply .239.
“Breakout,” he mentioned with a smile.
The Orioles’ season isn’t over, as their first postseason recreation since 2016 — and first at Camden Yards in 9 years — is simply days away. But that doesn’t imply the common season is unimportant and ought to be tossed apart. When evaluating a participant’s yr, the 162-game pattern from late March to early October is much extra essential than what occurs within the postseason.
So, let’s reply the identical query to recap the 2023 common season. Here is one phrase to explain each Orioles participant’s efficiency.
Adley Rutschman — Consistent: It’s doable that at no level this season was Rutschman the Orioles’ finest or hottest participant. But he was their most constant, posting an OPS at or above .770 in all however one month. He led the staff in video games performed with 154 — a formidable feat for a catcher — and a .374 on-base share.
James McCann — Professional: One of supervisor Brandon Hyde’s favourite phrases to explain a participant who acts the suitable approach is “pro.” McCann supplied simply that because the membership’s backup catcher, aiding an inexperienced beginning rotation and taking part in properly sufficient to spell Rutschman behind the dish in one-third of the staff’s video games.
Ryan Mountcastle — Scary: It was regarding when Mountcastle went on the injured checklist and missed a month with vertigo, opening up questions as as to if the slugger would get again to himself. He did, after which it turned scary for opposing pitchers as he was the membership’s finest hitter within the second half.
Ryan O’Hearn — Persistence: Breakout was a becoming selection, but it surely doesn’t completely seize the story of O’Hearn’s miraculous marketing campaign. The 30-year-old was a bench bat for one of many majors’ worst groups in 2022 and have become probably the greatest hitters on the AL’s finest membership in 2023. O’Hearn continued and thrived in Baltimore, hitting .289 with an .801 OPS.
Adam Frazier — Clutch: The second baseman mentioned high-leverage moments are “what I live for,” and he lived it up this yr. Overall, his .696 OPS was barely beneath league common, however he posted a .932 OPS with runners in scoring place. He steadily got here by in clutch moments, none greater than his game-tying double within the Orioles’ playoff-clinching win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Ramón Urías — Dependable: Urías is a quintessential league-average hitter with an above-average glove, and he did that once more this season with a .703 OPS. A reliable participant like Urías who performed three infield spots was useful to Hyde’s mix-and-match infield.
Jorge Mateo — Perplexing: Mateo was the Orioles’ finest hitter in April with a 1.062 OPS. His .472 OPS the remainder of the best way was the worst within the majors by 79 factors. Mateo has nonetheless been useful at occasions on the bases and within the discipline, however his bat has induced Hyde to solely play him versus left-handed pitchers.
Gunnar Henderson — Superstar: After a gradual begin, Henderson emerged in June as one of many sport’s finest gamers and by no means seemed again. He led Baltimore in OPS at .814, tied for the staff lead in homers with 28 and was maybe their finest defensive participant en path to being named Most Valuable Oriole. His 6.3 wins above substitute ranks ninth within the majors and fifth within the American League, in line with Baseball-Reference.
Jordan Westburg — Promising: Westburg’s numbers don’t bounce off the web page, however he proved he belonged within the majors the second he arrived in Baltimore in late June. He didn’t battle the best way nearly each different fellow prospect did and ended the common season with a good .260 common and strong protection at second base.
Austin Hays — Gritty: Early within the season, as Hays handled a hand damage, Hyde mentioned he’s one of many hardest gamers he’s “one of the toughest players I’ve been around.” He didn’t hit as properly within the second half as he did in his All-Star first half, however he nonetheless managed a .276 common and 36 doubles whereas taking part in Gold Glove-finalist caliber protection in left discipline.
Cedric Mullins — Glue: With his clutch hitting (team-best 1.025 OPS with runners in scoring place) and game-saving performs in heart discipline (like the house run theft in Seattle), Mullins proved how useful he’s to the staff when wholesome. He didn’t return to his 2021 self, when he turned the primary Orioles to hit 30 residence runs and steal 30 bases in a season. however as somebody who survived the rebuild and has the upside to near-single-handedly win video games, Mullins is the glue for a staff with a whole lot of shifting components.
Aaron Hicks — Proof: Hicks’ success as an Oriole after three straight dangerous seasons with the New York Yankees was proof that no matter Baltimore is doing to get probably the most out of change-of-scenery guys is working. Hicks hit .198 in his closing two-plus seasons in New York. He took per week away, grew a beard and out of the blue hit .275 with an .806 OPS with the Orioles after becoming a member of the staff in late May.
Anthony Santander — Difference-maker: Santander has been a streaky hitter this season, however that doesn’t take away from his confidence when he steps to the plate. He is, maybe greater than any hitter not named Henderson, a difference-maker within the coronary heart of Baltimore’s order as its high run producer with 95 RBIs.
Ryan McKenna — Intangibles: McKenna was one in every of a handful of gamers who spent the vast majority of their season in Baltimore however didn’t get to get pleasure from both clinch celebrations. As a bench participant, Hyde steadily praised McKenna’s intangibles — his perspective as a cheerleader for his teammates and his readiness to be a defensive substitute, pinch runner or pinch hitter.
Heston Kjerstad — Pop: In a small pattern of 20 batted balls, Kjerstad’s common exit velocity after his mid-September call-up was elite. At 92.3 mph, it could rank first on the Orioles and within the high 20 within the majors. The outfield prospect performed simply 13 video games and posted a .748 OPS after his winding path led to the massive leagues.
Kyle Bradish — Ace: Bradish entered his second marketing campaign as a wild card after an up-and-down 2022. He ended the 2023 common season as an AL Cy Young Award candidate and Baltimore’s ace with a 2.83 ERA. The final time a professional Orioles pitcher posted a sub-3.00 ERA was Hall of Famer Mike Mussina in 1992.
Kyle Gibson — Veteran: The Orioles paid Gibson $10 million this offseason to shepherd a younger beginning rotation together with his veteran presence and eat innings. Nearly each younger starter round him took steps ahead, and Gibson ate 192 innings. Check and verify.
Grayson Rodriguez — Blossomed: His rookie season wasn’t going as anticipated with a 7.35 ERA in his first 10 begins. But after a visit to Triple-A Norfolk, Rodriguez returned in July and blossomed right into a strong 1B to Bradish’s 1A. The solely beginning pitchers to have a greater second-half ERA than Rodriguez’s 2.58 had been Bradish and AL Cy Young Award front-runner Gerrit Cole.
John Means — Remarkable: To come again from Tommy John elbow reconstruction and pitch the best way Means has is nothing lower than outstanding. Whether he’s a member of the Orioles’ playoff rotation or not, Means missed 17 months after spending the rebuild because the membership’s ace and returned to a first-place staff and posted a 2.66 ERA in 4 begins.
Dean Kremer — Unflappable: In the 2 largest video games of the season, Kremer didn’t waver. He tossed 5 innings of one-run ball within the playoff-clinching win over the Rays and 5 1/3 shutout frames within the AL East-clinching victory versus the Boston Red Sox. After a poor begin, Kremer ended the common season with 13 wins and a 4.12 ERA.
Tyler Wells — Perseverance: Wells was the staff’s finest beginning pitcher within the first half of the season, however he spent a lot of the second half within the minors as he managed fatigue. He persevered by the hardship to return as a late-inning bullpen arm in September, slamming the door on the staff’s AL East-clinching win final week.
Cole Irvin — Selfless: Overall, Irvin was the identical pitcher in 2023 that he was earlier than the Orioles traded for him in January, however he spent many of the yr both in Triple-A or combating for his job within the huge leagues. Despite posting a 3.22 ERA since June 10, Irvin didn’t stick within the rotation and was optioned thrice. But the originator of the homer hose remained prepared each time Hyde wanted him, offering essential and efficient innings when known as upon.
Jack Flaherty — Disappointing: The Orioles traded for Flaherty with the hopes of getting a big-game pitcher with an elite pedigree and playoff expertise. Instead, he pitched his approach out of Baltimore’s rotation and right into a aid function. His season isn’t over, although, because the right-hander can nonetheless be an essential piece of Hyde’s playoff bullpen.
Félix Bautista — Heartbreaking: Bautista was on tempo for one of many best aid seasons in MLB historical past earlier than partially tearing his ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. He will miss the rest of the 2023 season and sure all of 2024 after present process Tommy John elbow reconstruction someday this month.
Yennier Cano — Storybook: No participant on the Orioles has a greater story than Cano, who went from being banned from taking part in in Cuba to being an All-Star. Since his mid-April call-up, he pitched in a team-high 72 video games with a 2.11 ERA.
Danny Coulombe — Diamond: When Baltimore traded money issues to the Minnesota Twins on the finish of spring coaching for Coulombe, they discovered a diamond within the tough. Coulombe, 33, has since loved a profession yr as probably the greatest left-handed relievers within the sport with a 2.81 ERA in 61 appearances.
Cionel Pérez — Inconsistent: Entering the season, Pérez was a first-rate regression candidate after his glorious 2022. It hit exhausting, as he pitched a 4.81 ERA by late July. But he returned to being one in every of Hyde’s most dependable relievers down the stretch with a 1.37 ERA since July 29.
Jacob Webb — Lucky: This isn’t to imply that Webb’s efficiency has been fortunate this season. Rather, it’s the Orioles who had been lucky the Los Angeles Angels put Webb on waivers and that 27 MLB groups handed on him. Webb, who has a 3.27 ERA in 22 innings for Baltimore, can also be sitting fairly in his new spot forward of the playoffs because the Angels put together for a protracted offseason.
Shintaro Fujinami — Volatile: When the Orioles acquired Fujinami from the Oakland Athletics in July, they had been getting a unstable reliever whose highs are as excessive as nearly any reliever on the staff and whose lows are as little as anybody’s. With the Orioles, he’s been precisely that. He’s pitched properly at occasions — each in low- and high-leverage — however he has but to earn the constant belief of Hyde.
DL Hall — Resilient: Hall’s season didn’t go as deliberate. After an offseason again damage, Hall’s velocity was down to start the yr with Norfolk. He went to the staff’s spring coaching facility to give attention to energy coaching, returned as a reliever and has been a key member of Baltimore’s bullpen this month with a 2.76 ERA.
Mike Baumann — Winner: Baumann’s 2023 season shall be a enjoyable trivia query sooner or later. “Question: Who is the only Orioles reliever in the 21st century to record 10 or more wins in a season? Answer: Mike Baumann.”
Bryan Baker — Stumbled: Baker’s numbers don’t look a lot worse than his 2022 efficiency, however his stumbles with inherited runners is what’s lacking from them. He posted a 3.64 ERA earlier than his August demotion however allowed 54% of inherited runners to attain.