There is no question the 2016 Baltimore Orioles will be built around their offense. The offseason additions of Mark Trumbo and Pedro Alvarez and the re-signing of Chris Davis have given the Orioles power threats up and down the lineup.
This lineup brings up comparisons to the 1996 Orioles team. They set the franchise record for home runs as a team with 257. If the 2016 Orioles hit to their potential they may be a threat to the franchise home run record. Every player in the 1996 lineup except Jeffrey Hammonds and Eddie Murray hit over 20 home runs, which shows you their power up and down the lineup. (Hammonds and Murray may have hit 20 home runs if they played more; they played only 71 and 64 games, respectively.)
Steamer will be the projection system used to grab the 2016 Orioles home run projections.
|1996 Orioles||Home Runs||2016 Orioles||Home Runs|
|Chris Hoiles||25||Matt Wieters||14|
|Rafael Palmeiro||39||Chris Davis||37|
|Roberto Alomar||22||Jonathan Schoop||19|
|Cal Ripken Jr.||26||J.J. Hardy||11|
|B.J. Surhoff||21||Manny Machado||27|
|Jeffrey Hammonds||9||Joey Rickard||3|
|Brady Anderson||50||Adam Jones||27|
|Bobby Bonilla||28||Mark Trumbo||25|
|Eddie Murray||10||Pedro Alvarez||27|
|Mike Devereaux||8||Caleb Joseph||5|
|Luis Polonia||2||Ryan Flaherty||6|
|Billy Ripken||2||Hyun-soo Kim||3|
|Todd Zeile||5||Nolan Reimold||9|
|Gregg Zaun||1||Jimmy Paredes||2|
|Tony Tarasco||1||Paul Janish||1|
|Mark Smith||4||Francisco Pena||2|
|Mark Parent||2||Henry Urrutia||1|
|Pete Incaviglia||2||Dariel Alvarez||3|
|Total HR||257||Total Proj. HR||222|
At first glance, the 2016 Orioles appear to have a shot at breaking the franchise record for home runs in a season, but they are projected to fall 35 home runs short of that record. However, there is a path to that record when looking further into their numbers...and crystal balls...and magic 8 balls. Let's get the 2016 Orioles to the record.
First, the 2016 Orioles will need a career year from a player the same way Brady Anderson had a career year for the 1996 Orioles. As documented by Joe Vasile last month, Anderson posted home run numbers well above his career totals. In a ballpark like Camden Yards, there is potential for any player playing half his games there to have a career year in home runs. Let's give the "Brady Anderson Honor" to Matt Wieters and assume he will be fully healthy in 2016 and post a career high in home runs. Instead of the projected 14 home runs, he will hit a career high of 30 home runs. This takes the Orioles' total home runs to 238.
In some projection systems, the player projections may fall short or not accurately project the correct amount of playing time. First, Manny Machado is projected to hit 27 home runs, a decrease of eight from his career high of 35 in 2015. Entering his age-24 season, Machado is only growing as a player and will continue to improve, which is a scary thought. Continuing on this thought process, let's assume Machado improves again and hits a new career high of 40 home runs, 13 more than his projection. Now, the Orioles as a team are up to 251 home runs, well within striking distance of the 1996 Orioles.
Next, the projected playing time of Joey Rickard and Hyun-soo Kim may not be accurate. Rickard is projected to play only 72 games, get 262 at-bats, and hit three home runs. The most home runs Rickard hit in the minor leagues was eight, but let's assume he gets regular playing time. Being conservative since he is a rookie, let's assume Rickard defies projections and hits six home runs, only three more than his projection. The 2016 Orioles would now have a total of 254 home runs, still four shy of the franchise record.
Kim is projected for only three home runs in 23 games and 92 at-bats. Since Kim does not appear willing to accept a minor-league assignment (these are the terms of his contract), then he will play in more than 23 games and get more than 92 at-bats. Assuming he plays more than projected, let's assume he hits 12 home runs, which is a number I think the Orioles would be happy with for a player who refused a minor-league assignment and struggled in spring training.
Since Rickard and Kim would see increased playing time in comparison to their projections in this scenario, someone would have to see a decrease in his projected playing time and homers. Nolan Reimold is the outfielder I think would lose playing time if Kim in particular has a better season than projected. Reimold is projected to hit nine home runs, but with a decrease in playing time, let's lower his HR total to only six.
Taking into account career years from Matt Wieters and Manny Machado and assuming projection out-performance from Joey Rickard and Hyun-soo Kim, the 2016 Baltimore Orioles would hit a total of 260 home runs, a new franchise record. It may not be easy or particularly probable, but if things break right for the 2016 Orioles offense, they have the potential to set a new franchise record in home runs.