Between the predictions for a 162-game baseball season and NFL mock drafts based almost purely on speculation, March and April are ripe with bad guesses. Few understand that more that Orioles fans, who have seen their team overcome said bad guesses in the past few years for a pair of playoff appearances and a division title.
Still, these predictions can be a good way of taking the baseball world's temperature as it wakes from its winter slumber, and there's a wide array of opinions on whether the Orioles will be able to fly a division flag for the second straight year.
Here's a sampling of what they're saying about the Orioles as Opening Day arrives:
"Worst Offseason Move: Settling for the acceptable. The Orioles were wise to fold when other teams offered four years to Nelson Cruz, [Nick] Markakis, and Andrew Miller, but they could have helped themselves in other areas. In a tight race, an above-average corner outfielder or a starting pitcher somewhere just below the [Max] Scherzer/[Jon] Lester level could have helped their odds."
"Names like Steve Pearce, Alejandro De Aza and Delmon Young may not be easy to market, but with Baltimore, they win.
The Orioles were 96-66 last season, running away with the A.L. East by 12 games. They will win again this season for the same reasons."
"A poor start—particularly if injuries hit the rotation—leads GM Dan Duquette to reboot one of the game’s thinnest farm systems by trading impending free agents such as [Matt] Wieters and Bud Norris for prospects."
- Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has the Orioles finishing third in the division behind Toronto and Boston, with third baseman Manny Machado’s ceiling being the biggest factor in the team’s success. A full season of a healthy, productive Machado might help the Orioles exceed everyone's expectations.
- Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra wrote last week that this might be the weakest American League East in years. He wrote that the Orioles “look OK, but they’re counting on a lot of comebacks from players with injury histories.”
- Thirty of the 88 prognosticators at ESPN.com have the Orioles winning the division, though it’s not broken down any farther than that.
- Of the six pickers at Sports Illustrated, only Cliff Corcoran has the Orioles winning the division, and Joe Sheehan is the only one with the Orioles in a Wild Card spot.
- Two different people picked the Orioles to win the division on CBSSports.com, and made the playoffs as the wild card in a third ballot.