Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter has changed the culture in Baltimore. In his first full season as manager, Showalter led the Orioles to a 93-69 record, second best in the AL East, and a Wild Card playoff berth.
The Orioles will look to improve upon last season’s success after they were eliminated from the playoffs by their division rival the New York Yankees, according to the Baltimore Sun.
The AL East, one of baseball’s toughest divisions, will present Baltimore with challenges all season. They will be competing with the reigning division champion Yankees as well as trying to fend off teams like the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays that have been staples in the playoffs in recent years. They will also have to compete with the improved Toronto Blue Jays who this off-season acquired SS Jose Reyes and NL Cy Young winner R.A.
The Orioles return a majority of their lineup from the 2012 campaign. Statistical batting leaders center fielder Adam Jones and first baseman Chris Davis are two players looking to have big seasons for Baltimore. Wei-Yin Chen, Baltimore’s wins leader from last season, will look to continue to be consistent on the mound.
One story line to look out for this season is Chris Davis’ move from designated hitter to first base, Wilson Betemit will take over designated hitting duties. Betemit is coming off of a 12 home run 40 RBI season in 102 games played.
Manny Machado will star at third base following the departure of Mark Reynolds who, according to the Baltimore Sun, signed a 1-year contract with the Cleveland Indians in the offseason. Manchado appeared in 51 games last season hitting 7 home runs and had 26 RBIs.
The Orioles, according to ESPN.com, were statistically average last season ranking 15th in runs, 20th in BA, 14th in ERA and 16th in BAA. Baltimore will have to improve in almost all major statistical categories if they want to make a second straight playoff appearance.