In order for the Orioles to equal or improve on 2012, some of those who had excellent seasons. Here are five who are unlikely to repeat their 2012 performances in 2013.
1) Jim Johnson
Johnson saved 51 of 54 games in 2012. Only eight times in baseball history has a player saved more, and twice in Johnson’s blown saves, the Orioles won the game.
That’s a success ratio of 98.1 percent, and that’s probably not going to happen again.
Nor are the Orioles going to convert him to a starter, which is what he was when he came up. If he saved 35 of 40 games, that would probably be fine.
2) J.J. Hardy
Hardy has room to improve on his offense. In 29 more games in 2012, he hit eight homers and 29 fewer RBIs than he did in2011. He also hit 31 points below his 2011 average.
His defense was wondrous in 2012. It’s hard to believe that a shortstop can make just five errors in 158 games.
Hardy had never played that many games, and it’s unlikely he will again.
3) Nate McLouth
The Orioles rescued McLouth from the minor leagues and when Nick Markakis’ season was ended by CC Sabathia, he saved the Orioles.
After an All-Star season, McLouth nosedived, and was released by Pittsburgh in May. He stole 12 of 13 bases, batted .268 and played well in the outfield.
McLouth is looking for a contract that’s probably too rich for the Orioles, and may not return to the team.
4) Wei-Yin Chen
Chen was the only Orioles starter with more than nine wins last season. He didn’t win after August. It will be interesting to see if opposing batters have learned much about Chen, who admittedly knew little about American hitters last spring.
Twelve more wins would be just fine with the Orioles. They’d like it if someone else-Jason Hammel, Dylan Bundy—took over as the staff ace.
He’s training in California this off-season and the Orioles hope he’ll be stronger and even better in 2013. That’s probably unlikely.
5) Buck Showalter
I know that it’s cheating; he’s not a player, but it seemed that nearly everything Showalter did turned out correctly. The Orioles won 16 straight extra-inning games. They won 20 more one-run games than they lost.
While Showalter is the master at turning teams around, he’s never made the postseason twice in a row, and it might be hard to imagine the Orioles winning 90 or more again.
I’m sure that Showalter will talk endlessly about how difficult it is to win when it’s expected. The Orioles will have to navigate a tough AL East.