Tha Sports Junkies 101

Orioles Onslaught: Home Run Barrage Powering Baltimore

Keith Allison/ Via


The Orioles are hitting home runs at a prolific rate in 2016.  Will that translate to postseason success?

The Baltimore Orioles have always been an organization that hits plenty of home runs, and 2016 has been no different. The O’s lead Major League Baseball with 188 home runs.  They have hit thirteen more dingers than the team that ranks second in that category, the Toronto Blue Jays.  Although high home run totals are nothing irregular for the slugging Orioles, this season has been special in terms of power output.  Just look at last night’s game against the Astros; they hit four home runs in the first inning.  Adam Jones started the attack.  Manny Machado, Chris Davis, and Mark Trumbo followed later in the frame for back-to-back-to-back home runs.

Seven players on Baltimore already have hit double-digit home runs in 2016.  They have had more consistent power coming from a few players, but basically every hitter on the roster has chipped in with longballs.  As expected, first baseman Chris Davis has been a huge home run threat every time he steps up to the plate.  His batting average is a poor .222, but he has 28 home runs thus far.  He won’t come close to his season high of 53, but Davis hasn’t slacked off in 2016.  Maybe the most consistent Orioles’ hitter over the past five years has been Adam Jones.  With 24 home runs, the five-time all-star outfielder is in a great position to finish at his usual total that has ranged from 25 to 33 since 2011.

After breaking out in 2015, Manny Machado has only improved this year.  The two-time Gold Glove Award recipient has 28 home runs in 2016 through 116 games.  The three-time all-star also has sported a .300 average.  After blasting 35 longballs last year, Machado is on pace to match that number in what could be the season that Manny captures his first MVP Award.  Fellow infielder Jonathan Schoop has come into his own as a power hitter in 2016 as Machado did in 2015.  The second baseman has slugged 18 home runs for Baltimore.  Schoop only ranks seventh among American League second baseman in dingers, but that doesn’t mean Schoop hasn’t been a premier hitter for the Orioles.  He is sixth on the team in home runs, trailing designated hitter Pedro Alvarez by one.

Without a doubt, one player has stood out above all others for the Orioles in terms of sheer power.  When Baltimore signed Mark Trumbo to a one-year, $9 million contract in the offseason, the move did not garner much attention.  Trumbo was coming off of a lackluster season in 2015 where he was traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Seattle Mariners.  After hitting just 22 home runs last season, Trumbo has crushed 36 already in the hitter-friendly Camden Yards.  The 30 year-old has turned out to be the best value signing of the offseason.  Trumbo is in line for a huge payday this winter following his power barrage this year.  If the season ended today, Mark Trumbo would be baseball’s home run king.

In Major League Baseball history, no lineup has ever had more than four players hit 30 home runs in a single season.  As long as Adam Jones can keep a solid pace, Baltimore looks like they will join the record books with their own power quartet.  If Schoop or Alvarez can catch fire in September, then the 2016 Orioles could be the first ballclub ever with five players to hit 30 home runs in one year.  Buck Showalter may not have the pitching support he would like, but there’s no doubt that the Orioles’ skipper has plenty of offense on a nightly basis.

So the question begs itself- what does this all mean for the Orioles’ playoff chances?  The Orioles are no strangers to leading the league in home runs; they’ve hit the most multiple times in this decade.  Since 2000, though, only one team has won the World Series in the same year that they led the league in home runs.  Regular season offense obviously does not necessarily translate ton October.  For years now, Baltimore has lacked a true ace at the top of their rotation, which appears to be vital in order to be victorious in the postseason.  In general, the O’s don’t have reliable pitching depth.  Although the team hit five home runs last night before the sixth inning, starting pitch Wade Miley couldn’t even give his team two innings.  Because of frequent pitching performances like Miley’s, the bullpen has been overtaxed all season long.

As the standings sit, the Baltimore Orioles would be the second wild card in the American League, even with a very formidable 67-54 record.  Right now, they would have to face off against the Boston Red Sox in the one-game playoff, which has its pros and cons.  On a positive note, Boston has not found their true ace in 2016.  David Price has looked like a shell of himself in the first year of his massive contract.  The bad news is that Baltimore doesn’t have a true ace either.  Chris Tillman and Dylan Bundy have been good for the Orioles, but not great.  Unlike many other teams around the league, the Red Sox have a pernicious offense that can match the O’s stride for stride.  Mookie Betts in particular has had his ways with the O’s this year, so he could end up putting the nail in the coffin.

The Orioles certainly have the power hitters to get the job done.  But based off of their roster as a whole, the O’s are not built to win a championship, even with all of their power.  The bigger they (the hitters) come, the faster they fall (in October).