KFFL answers some important fantasy baseball questions for each Major League Baseball team as spring training approaches. What must fantasy baseball players know about the Baltimore Orioles?
What's the outlook for Mark Reynolds by the Inner Harbor?
Every fantasy baseball manager knows the potential drawbacks of Reynolds ownership. The encouraging news: His 2010 average on balls in play was far below his career standard, and homers, which have constituted about one-third of his hits in the past two seasons, should come a bit more easily at Camden Yards. The discouraging news: He had a ton of trouble driving the ball, one reason that he wasn't as "fortunate."
Reynolds' value loosely wrapped
He should rebound. Recognize how sizable the improvement from a .198 batting average must be for you to consider absorbing it for the 30 or 40 homers he could provide, however. The stage of your draft and your team's makeup at that time will play a large part in determining whether you're willing to pay for where he lands on a wide-ranging scale of possible prices for him.
Where will the saves come from?
Koji Uehara finally re-upped with the O's and is again a front-runner for save opportunities. He was 13 for 15 in those situations, which assuredly earned him some points with Buck Showalter. His varied arsenal keeps hitters off-balance, and the bullpen allows him to avoid health concerns. In Japan, he was pretty successful in this role.
When Mike Gonzalez finally regained strength in his shoulder, he was very effective. In 22 2/3 innings from July 22 on, he posted a 2.78 ERA and 28 K's against 10 walks. Showalter may prefer to keep him in a setup role and preserve him for lefty-on-lefty matchups, but that could also translate to save opps when the ninth will feature imposing bats from that side. If Baltimore adds another southpaw, that would up Gonzalez's chances.
All bets are off if Kevin Gregg comes aboard. At worst he'd rival those two for chances; the club would likely expect him to take the reins.
Are any of the Orioles' heralded pitching prospects worth a draft pick?
Brian Matusz was dominant (7-1, 2.18 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 7.55 K/9) in 2010's final two months. Showalter's arrival seemed to affect the lefty more than any other player on the roster. He's a gamer. A likely shortage of wins and some more growing pains in an intimidating AL East curtails enthusiasm some. But there's upside, with forecasted improvements in all ratios.
As for the rest: In 2010, Chris Tillman put together three brilliant starts, two coming in the last four weeks, but has been enigmatic since his 2009 debut. Jake Arrieta showed an ability to limit damage and markedly reduced his BB/9 as the season wore on. Brandon Erbe and Zach Britton should get looks this season. They're all facing the same conditions that Matusz has, though, and none is a great bet to make a huge leap.
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.
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