Originally posted on Dempsey's Army  |  Last updated 2/29/12
It's that time again. Today, I will try to predict the Oriole win total using estimated playing time, projections and the WAR spreadsheet from Beyond the Boxscore.

I used Sky Kalkman's updated WAR Spreadsheet for the calculations and based on Matt Swartz's article on testing projections systems at Fangraphs.com, I used a combination of ZiPS and Oliver projections for the hitters and Steamer FIP projections for the pitchers.

I am assuming a 12 man pitching staff and based on that assumption, here are the 13 position players I have breaking camp:

C Matt Wieters
1B Chris Davis
2B Robert Andino
SS JJ Hardy
3B Mark Reynolds
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
LF Nolan Reimold
IF/DH Wilson Betemit
OF Endy Chavez
IF Matt Antonelli
IF Ryan Flaherty
C Taylor Teagarden

I do not expect Brian Roberts to break camp with the rest of the team and I don't really expect him to contribute much to the Orioles going forward. That will allow the new corp of infielders to head north with the club. Nick Markakis may still start the season on the DL allowing Jai Miller a bit of playing time early.

The pitching situation is cloudier due to the current injuries, a few pitchers coming back from injury and sorting out all the options (or lack thereof) of relievers in camp. I did the best I could with the composition of the pitching staff and you could certainly trade out a Darren O'Day for a Kevin Gregg and I wouldn't have an argument with that. But the bullpen roster, outside of Jim Johnson and Matt Lindstrom, is anybody's guess and quite frankly there probably won't be a hige difference in performance. Troy Patton, for instance, is probably more wishful thinking on my part although I think he could be a very good bullpen arm. He is just as likely to be waived or traded as he is to make the team. Also wishful thinking is the departure via trade or waivers of Kevin Gregg. But I digress.

So, here it is:

A few thoughts and explanations...

- Even without the additions of big name (but old and ineffective) veterans this offseason, the projections only have the team winning 5 fewer games. (Vladimir Guerrero and Derrek Lee didn't even sniff their 2011 projections...)

- Oliver loves Chris Davis. It projected a .803 OPS for 2012. ZiPS hates Chris Davis. It projects a .739 OPS. It was the biggest discrepency on the team. I split the difference. Anything approching the Oliver projection for Davis would be really nice for the offense.

- I have probably overestimated the total team defense. I may have overestimated the impact of plus defenders and not taken enough away from some suspect defenders. Outside of Matt Wieters and JJ Hardy, there are no defensive standouts on the team (not even Adam Jones or Nick Markakis, Gold Gloves notwithstanding). Most of the team ranges from solid to awful. That said, I think Wieters' combination of stellar defense and a solid to great bat will make him the most valuable member of the team.

- You can see the impact that losing an above average starter that can throw 200 innings can have on a rotation. All those innings are going to have to be cobbled together around Jason Hammel, the only member of the starting staff that has thrown more than 170 innings in an MLB season.

- The NPB imports of Wei Chen and Tsuyoshi Wada do not have Steamer projections. Wada's is a ZiPS projection and Chen is just a wild guess. With Wada's injury and the general difficulty of projecting NPB pitchers, these innings and ERA projections are probably the best possible scenarios.

- Speaking of best possible scenarios, remember when we were all excited about the young Oriole arms? Now, according to projecitons, getting 130 innings of 4.69 ERA from Jake Arrieta seems to be the best performance we can expect from this group. (And given he is coming back from elbow surgery, that may be in question too.) With Zach Britton's shoulder soreness, Brian Matusz's big step back in 2011 and Chris Tillman's general ineffectiveness, it's hard to count on any of them to do big things in 2012.

- Mark Reynolds should, once again, be the best offensive player on the team. Take that how you will.

All of this breaks down to about 74 wins and, unlike the last couple of years, I don't see much chance of the Orioles exceeding that win total. In fact, I think this may be the best case scenario. OK, we could have a few position players take big steps forward (Jones, Wieters, Davis and Reimold) and a couple of the young pitchers could develop into reliable starters (Matusz, Britton and Arrieta) and the NPB imports could be better than advertised and the Orioles field a decent lineup and a solid pitching staff. But if you have been watching the O's over the past few seasons, you know how unlikely all these players hitting their ceilings in the same season seems.

Given that my predicitons in previous years have been a bit too optimistic, I think Baltimore will struggle to reach 70 wins in 2012. If they fail, it will be the 6th straight season that they have failed to reach the 70 win mark. I'll try to look for silver linings to this dark cloud in the coming weeks.
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