Peter Schmuck's final 2018 grades for every Orioles player

The Orioles have gone where no other O’s team in the history of the modern Baltimore franchise has gone before, losing 115 games after pushing the organizational reset button at midseason.

If I were giving the team a letter grade for its performance this season, it’s pretty obvious what that would be, but assigning such a grade to every player who spent at least nominal time on the roster will be a bit more of a challenge.

Remember, the letter grade is based on each player’s performance within the context of his role on the team and time on the roster. It is not meant to compare that player with teammates or other major leaguers at his position.

Note: To be included here, batters must have had at least 30 at-bats and pitchers must have thrown at least 20 innings, though there are a few exceptions.

Outfielders

Adam Jones, CF, RF: Despite a season of doubt, disappointment and distraction, the Orioles’ de facto captain remained a steady force in the lineup. Run production numbers were down significantly, but that was unavoidable in an offense that provided sparse opportunity. Got a nice send-off from O's fans in the season finale in case he doesn't end up coming back. Grade: B

Cedric Mullins, CF: New center fielder got off to a great start after Adam Jones moved to right to make room for his late-season audition. Batted .317 in August but cooled off some in September (.187). Still considered the club’s future at a key defensive position. Grade: B

DJ Stewart, OF: Interesting September audition raised his stock. The Orioles originally didn’t call him up for the roster expansion and he got off to a slow start at the plate after a late arrival, but his bat really came to life the final two weeks of the season. Grade: B

Mark Trumbo, DH, RF, 1B: Missed the first month of the season with a thigh injury and missed the last month with a knee problem. In between, his averages and ratios were right in line with his career statistics. Finished tied for second on the team in homers and fifth in RBIs in just 90 games. Heading into the final year of his Orioles contract. Grade: B

Trey Mancini, LF, 1B: After finishing third in American League Rookie of the Year voting in 2017, Mancini suffered through a frustrating first half this season. Batted .216 before the All-Star break, but bounced back to hit .276 after while having better run production totals in the last 65 games than the first 91. Ended up with 24 homers like last year, but RBI total dropped. Grade: C+

Craig Gentry, OF: Manager Buck Showalter loved what Gentry brought to the roster in terms of a very good defensive utility outfielder, but even with a respectable .269 batting average and .321 OBP, he didn’t bring much to the plate. Grade: C

Joey Rickard, OF: Opened some eyes with his exciting early-season performance in 2016, but was just good enough this year to bounce back and forth between Baltimore and Triple-A Norfolk, providing a little pop at the plate as well as some outfield depth. Grade: C

John Andreoli, OF: Not exactly a young prospect at 28, but the Orioles picked him off waivers in August and gave him a good look. He didn’t knock anybody’s socks off with a .232 batting average and just four RBIs in 56 at-bats. Showed decent speed on the bases and defensive range. Grade: D

Anthony Santander, OF: Two-season Rule 5 draft guy got a long look early in the season while Trumbo recovered from a thigh injury. It didn’t go well, so he spent the rest of the season in the minors. That didn’t go well, either, but he might get another look next spring. Grade: D

Colby Rasmus, RF: Walked away from his team a year ago, then the Orioles gave him a chance at a comeback and he walked away from them, too. Don’t really care what his stats were. Grade: F

Infielders

Manny Machado, SS: The only Oriole who was truly immune to the club’s horrible collapse this season, Machado led the club in RBIs (65) and tied for the lead in home runs (24), which is pretty good considering he was traded in mid-July. Grade: A

Jonathan Villar, 2B, SS: Came over in the Jonathan Schoop deal and flashed a ton of raw talent over the final two months of the season. Tough to stop on the bases and a pretty good, though unpredictable, all-around player. Grade: B+

Renato Núñez, 3B: Plucked off waivers from the Texas Rangers, the 24-year-old infielder struggled defensively at the outset but showed improvement at third base with regular playing time. Offensively, made a big statement in September. Looks like a keeper. Grade: B

Jonathan Schoop, 2B: Probably wishes he were still with the Orioles. Schoop fell off the map in Milwaukee after being named American League Player of the Week the week before he was traded. Did OK with Baltimore and was on a 25-homer pace when he left. Grade: C+

Danny Valencia, 3B, RF, 1B: Signed by the Orioles during spring training as an “insurance policy” and turned out to be just that. Was needed more than anticipated and did what he does, which is put up decent numbers, hit left-handers well and eventually get traded or released. Grade: C

Pedro Álvarez, DH, 3B, 1B: The Orioles brought him back during spring training and he showed his usual power swing early in the season. Hit eight homers in his first 34 games, but the O’s couldn’t carry his .180 average in mid-June. Drove in 32 runs in 43 games at Norfolk. Grade: D+

Tim Beckham, 3B, SS: The 2008 No. 1 overall draft pick, Beckham still is trying to live up to that billing. Played both positions on the left side of the infield, with so-so results. Offensive production was spotty (.230 batting average, .287 OBP). Future with the club is uncertain. Grade: D

Jace Peterson, 3B, OF, 2B, SS: Claimed off waivers in April and showed welcome speed on the bases and versatility in the field, but his .195/.308/.325 batting line is not going to cut it at this level. Grade: D

Chris Davis, 1B: The 2018 season was an unqualified disaster for Davis, who delivered one of the worst individual seasons by a full-time player in the history of the sport. The two-time major league home run champion simply forgot how to hit. Sad. Grade: F

Breyvic Valera, INF: Middle infielder came over in the Machado deal and got a brief major league audition. Had 10 hits in 35 at-bats (.286) and made three errors in 13 games. Not much to go on here. Grade: Incomplete

Steve Wilkerson, INF: Showalter was intrigued by his versatility, but various factors kept him off the field for almost all of the season. Got just a handful of at-bats and didn’t do a lot with them. Grade: Incomplete

Catchers

Austin Wynns, C: Fourth on the catching depth chart coming out of spring training, but raised his stock during the season. Solid defensively and threw out a respectable 32 percent of attempted base-stealers. Also the position’s most effective hitter (.255). Grade: B-

Caleb Joseph, C: Solid defensive catcher who’s holding a place for whoever the Orioles decide is their best young guy. Struggled to deliver a consistent offensive performance (.219/.254/.321), but more than probably anyone else on the team, he is exactly who he is. Grade: C

Chance Sisco, C: Got most of the playing time during the first two months of the season and swung the bat well for a while, but offensive production fell sharply in May and June and he was back in the minors by mid-July. His status as the catcher of the future might be in question. Grade: D

Starting pitchers

David Hess, RHP: Rookie showed up in May and made a nice first impression in his initial five appearances. Came back to earth and spent most of July in Norfolk, but ended up getting 19 major league starts. Despite a 4.88 ERA, he could have been a .500 pitcher with some run support. Grade: C

Kevin Gausman, RHP: Who knew that all Gausman had to do was work entirely out of the stretch to look like an ace? The Orioles didn’t. The Braves did. Unfortunately, his last two months with Atlanta (5-3, 2.87 ERA) don’t count here. Grade: C-

Yefry Ramírez, RHP: Rookie has displayed promise during a season in which he was called upon to fill a lot of holes in the Orioles’ pitching staff. Obviously, the final line (1-8, 5.92 ERA) doesn’t look good, but he’ll get a chance to compete for a rotation spot next spring. Grade: D+

Jimmy Yacabonis, RHP: The numbers don’t tell the whole story here. Yacabonis got thrown into a series of emergency starts and pitched in multiple roles. That doesn’t excuse the 5.40 ERA, but the Orioles think he’s got a chance. Grade: D+

Dylan Bundy, RHP: Steadiest pitcher in the Orioles rotation through June (6-7, 3.35 ERA with spotty run support), but something went horribly wrong and no one knows what it was. Regained his footing to some extent in September but finished the season tied for the major league lead with 16 losses. Grade: D

Andrew Cashner, RHP: Spring acquisition had a long history of poor offensive support, and that continued in his first season with the Orioles. Gave up three earned runs or fewer in 19 of 28 starts and recorded just four victories. Still, it’s hard to sugarcoat a 4-15 record and 5.29 ERA. Grade: D

Alex Cobb, RHP: Very disappointing year for a pitcher the Orioles signed to a large four-year deal last spring, but the second half of the season showed what he could mean to the club going forward. Was 3-3 with a 2.56 ERA in 10 starts after the All-Star break. Still, it’s hard to overlook a 2-13 start, despite awful run support. Grade: D

Chris Tillman, RHP: Sad tale of lost command carried over from 2017 and led to his eventual release. No clear-cut explanation for why he simply lost his ability to get people out after building a pretty nice career. Grade: F

Josh Rogers, LHP: Rotation candidate got a brief look this season and did not impress (1-2, 8.49 ERA), but we’re talking about a 24-year-old who will still be a rookie next year. Doesn’t meet the minimum innings total to be included here, but will be a pitcher to watch next spring. Grade: Incomplete

Bullpen

Richard Bleier, LHP: Really the unsung hero of the pitching staff the past two years, but his workload might have caught up with him. Missed the last 3½ months of the season with a lat muscle injury, but not before going 3-0 and keeping his ERA below 2.00 for the third straight season. Grade: A-

Paul Fry, LHP: Rookie left-hander got thrown into the fire this season and handled his workload well. Appeared in 35 games and produced solid numbers (3.35 ERA, 1.27 WHIP), especially for a first-year guy. Will be a solid bullpen candidate next spring. Grade: B

Sean Gilmartin, LHP: There was some head-scratching when the Orioles signed the 28-year-old 2011 first-rounder in July, but you know what they say about left-handers. Gilmartin couldn’t get anybody out with the New York Mets the past two seasons, but pitched pretty well (3.00 ERA) in 12 appearances for the O’s. Grade: B

Zach Britton, LHP: Record-setting closer missed most of the first half after an offseason Achilles tendon injury and didn’t get many save opportunities after that for obvious reasons. Appeared in just 16 games and posted an uncharacteristic 3.45 ERA. Performance improved somewhat after being traded to the New York Yankees. Grade: C

Miguel Castro, RHP: Tall, hard-throwing righty looks like everything you’d want in a young major league pitcher, but he’s still got some maturing to do after a busy second year in the bullpen (63 games, 3.96 ERA). If he can harness his talent and overcome inconsistent command, he could be a star. Grade: C

Mychal Givens, RHP: Had to evolve into a bullpen leader at an early stage in his career and had some early struggles this year, but settled down and asserted himself down the stretch. Could be next year’s full-time closer. Still trying to figure out how you can have an 0-7 record and a 1.19 WHIP. Grade: C

Ryan Meisinger, RHP: Homegrown righty got a chance to audition for next year’s bullpen and showed he might be ready. Appeared in 17 games as a reliever and produced good hit/inning and strikeout/inning ratios while posting a 4.35 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. His overall ERA exploded (6.43) during a one-inning start in which he gave up five runs. Grade: C

Tanner Scott, LHP: Considered by some to be the closer of the future, Scott has grown considerably over the course of the season. Allowed just five earned runs in his final 16 appearances. Grade: C

Brad Brach, RHP: Former All-Star setup man struggled to replace closer Zach Britton during the first half of the season and was traded to the Atlanta Braves on July 31. Performed well in the pennant race, but not so well here, where he had a 4.85 ERA and an inflated 1.77 WHIP. It was his second disappointing year in a row. Grade: D+

Donnie Hart, LHP: The ultimate “Norfolk Shuttle” guy, Hart went back and forth frequently and pitched infrequently, making just 20 appearances and rolling up a 5.59 ERA. Command was spotty. Could have a tough time cracking the bullpen next spring. Grade: D

Mike Wright Jr., RHP: The Orioles have given the big right-hander a whole season to see whether he can become a dependable middle-relief guy. Was moving in the right direction in midsummer, but struggled in late August and September and finished with a 5.55 ERA. Grade: D

Pedro Araujo, RHP: Rule 5 righty made a nice impression during spring training and had to make the 25-man Opening Day roster to stay in the organization. Had some good outings in April, but faded and eventually ended up on the 60-day disabled list. Grade: Incomplete

Cody Carroll, RHP: Part of the Orioles’ midseason trade haul, Carroll came over from the Yankees organization and made a good early impression. Has struggled since — posting a 9.00 ERA and 2.00 WHIP in 15 appearances — but will get a long look next spring. Grade: Incomplete

Darren O’Day, RHP: Limited by injuries to 20 appearances and 20 innings before being a salary dump in the Kevin Gausman trade. Still pitched OK under the circumstances, but nowhere near the way he did in his prime Oriole years. Grade: Incomplete

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

twitter.com/SchmuckStop

Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.

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