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Baltimore Orioles 2024 team preview: Are the Orioles a World Series threat?

Baltimore Orioles preview 2024
Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

What a turnaround the Baltimore Orioles have gone through. Just a couple of years ago they finished with a 52-100 record. Last year they won the AL East and won 101 games. The season didn’t ultimately end the way that they would have liked, with the club being swept out of the ALDS by the eventual World Series winners from Texas, but it was also a good first step.

The goal for this season will be to take another step, if not a full leap.

Related: World Series odds 2024

The Orioles are in the process of being sold, and it’s hard to imagine the new owner being worse than the Angelos family. The Orioles have a great farm system that includes the top prospect in baseball on numerous top-100 lists, and now the hope is that the O’s can keep this group of young, über-talented players together for a long, long time.

Orioles additions and subtractions

Right after the announcement that the team was being sold, the Orioles finally went out and made the trade that everyone was waiting for, acquiring an ace in Corbin Burnes from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for DL Hall and Joey Ortiz. The one problem with Baltimore’s offseason is that this is the only real noteworthy move the club made. Houston didn’t fill up the transactions log either, making their one big move in signing Josh Hader, but they have also been to seven straight Championship Series. The O’s won 101 games in the regular season and zero in the postseason.

They brought in Craig Kimbrel to help out the back-end of the bullpen with veteran experience, but he’s likely to be a step down from their closer a year ago, Félix Bautista, who will miss the 2024 season after having Tommy John surgery. In total, the Orioles added 4.8 projected WAR to their roster, and Burnes (4) and Kimbrel (0.4) account for most of that production.

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Baltimore will also be without Kyle Gibson (2.6) and Jack Flaherty (1.8), and while each had ERAs close to five last season, they also both ate up 336 innings between them. That’s 23% of the outs needed to complete a season right there. Baltimore has tons of young talent, but not all minor leaguers hit the ground running when they’re first called up. In what should be a very competitive AL East, the O’s will need to hit the ground running in 2024.

Orioles 2024 outlook

Baltimore Orioles season preview
Jul 27, 2022; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Orioles number one draft pick Jackson Holliday looks to the stands on the field while catcher Adley Rutschman (35) takes the field third inning of the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

While the team didn’t add a ton, bringing in Burnes and the top prospect in baseball in Jackson Holliday are two sizable additions. Baltimore’s offense as a whole held a 105 wRC+, five percent better than league average. Their second basemen ranked 18th in baseball by this metric with a 91 wRC+. A little more production from Holliday in that spot should place the Orioles overall offense a top ten.

Both FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus think the O’s will have a good season, but they’re not quite projecting them for a repeat 100-win campaign. FG has them pegged at 85-77, while BP is at 87-75. Both outlets have the Orioles in fourth place in the East.

That said, the Yankees are set to be without their ace, Gerrit Cole, until at least June. New York also leads both site’s projections in the East, though the gap is now a bit smaller. While the Yankees have added Juan Soto and improved their overall roster, they still have a lot of question marks in their rotation, and now their one constant, Cole, is set to miss the first couple of months of the season.

The Blue Jays are still a dangerous team that could find another gear, and the Rays just know how to pump out winning seasons, so it’s not like the Cole injury completely opens up the East for the O’s to waltz to a second consecutive division crown, but it does leave the door open a bit more.

The Orioles have a great team of talented, but inexperienced players. The 2024 season is going to come down to what they get out of their pitching staff with young guys like Grayson Rodriguez, how the back-end of the bullpen performs without Bautista, and how much growth we see from the young core in Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, and Holliday.

Related: MLB predictions 2024, see where Baltimore Orioles place

Orioles player to watch in 2024

Baltimore Orioles season preview
Apr 2, 2022; Lakeland, Florida, USA; Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher John Means (47) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Detroit Tigers during spring training at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

One player who would not only be great to see on the field again for Baltimore but could also help them out on the mound is John Means. The left-hander had Tommy John surgery in April of 2022 and came back last September to toss 23 2/3 innings with a 2.66 ERA (5.24 FIP). He is currently set to miss the beginning of the season, but the club hopes that he’ll return to the rotation before the end of April.

For Orioles fans, Means was the one guy who gave them a reason to watch games when the team was in full rebuild mode, and getting him back would be a much-needed boost to the team’s depth in the rotation. If he were able to come back and provide 85-100 quality innings around his career 3.74 ERA, then that would just be the icing on the cake.

The O’s need someone to step up in the rotation, and after missing nearly two full seasons you have to think that Means would love to be that guy.

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