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Breaking Down the Baltimore Orioles Potential Lineup with Nelson Cruz

February 25th, 2014 at 7:07 AM
By Josh Michael

The Baltimore Orioles made the deal official last night, as they have agreed to a one-year deal with free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz to immediately bolster their lineup. Cruz and the Orioles will have a press conference today at 9:30 a.m., which will be broadcasted on MASN.

'Nelson Cruz' photo (c) 2011, Keith Allison - license:

Cruz brings with him the dark cloud of being suspended for 50-games last season due to his involvement in the Biogenesis case, but as several Orioles have already stated, Cruz has served his time, owned up to his mistake, and are willing to move on.

Looking forward to 2014, the Orioles lineup is shaping up to be one of the best in baseball with the addition of Cruz, and when you look at the numbers, this team should be fun to watch.

Our projected starting lineup for the Birds, including Manny Machado, is presented below with their numbers from last year.

  • Nick Markakis, RF – .271 with 10 homers, 59 RBI, and a .329 OBP
  • Manny Machado 3B – .283 with 14 homers, 71 RBI, 51 doubles and .314 OBP
  • Chris Davis 1B – .286 with 53 homers, 138 RBI, 42 doubles and .370 OBP
  • Adam Jones CF – .285 with 33 homers, 108 RBI, 35 doubles and .318 OBP
  • Nelson Cruz DH – .266 with 27 homers, 76 RBI, 18 doubles and .327 OBP in 109 games
  • Matt Wieters C – .235 with 22 homers, 79 RBI, 29 doubles and .287 OBP.
  • Ryan Flaherty 2B – .224 with 10 homers, 27 RBI and .293 OBP
  • JJ Hardy SS – .263 with 25 homers, 76 RBI, 27 doubles and .306 OBP
  • David Lough LF – .286 with five homers, 33 RBI, 17 doubles and .311 OBP in 96 games

Now, the first thing we will point out is that Flaherty is hitting before Hardy due to the fact that if you hit Flaherty eighth, then you have three left handed hitters in a row with Flaherty, Lough and Markakis, which would cause a matchup problem in the late innings for the O's.

In 2013, the Orioles as a team led all of baseball with 212 long balls, 24 more than any other team in the game, and if you just go off of last year's numbers, our 2014 projected lineup would hit 199 by themselves, which oh by the way would have led the league last season by 11. Yes, we understand that Davis is unlikely to hit 53 again, but we also believe that Flaherty will hit more than 10 in a full season, Lough would hit more than five, and both Machado and Markakis are prime candidates to increase their totals as well.

'Nick Markakis' photo (c) 2013, Keith Allison - license:

There are a couple of things that really standout in regards to some negatives in this lineup though. First and foremost is one of the issues the team had heading into this offseason, on base percentage. Davis has by far and away the highest OBP on this team, and if he continues with the production he has over the past two seasons, that number is likely to go up in 2014. Markakis should have a bounce back season and return to the .350 range, but the rest of the lineup is in the low 3's and high 2's, which does not boast well for a team that finished 19th in the league last season with a .313 OBP.

The second negative in the lineup is the lack of base stealing ability as the projected lineup would have Jones as its' leading base stealer, which we do not believe it is normal for your clean-up hitter to lead your team in steals (sarcasm). Lough had just five steals in 2013 in 96 games, but he has shown some promise as a base stealer in the minor leagues with 96 career steals in 677 minor league games, including 26 in 2012. This season's team will undoubtedly be the closest to trying to replicate the great Orioles teams of the sixties and seventies meaning leaning on the home run, great defense and good pitching. Of course, the toughest aspect of that game plan to replicate is good pitching.

What do you think of the 2014 projected lineup? What concerns you and what do you like? Let the conversation begin by posting a comment!


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Tags: Adam Jones, Baltimore, Baltimore Orioles, Baseball, Chris Davis, David Lough, JJ Hardy, Manny Machado, Matt Wieters, MLB, Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis, Ryan Flaherty

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