2024 Baltimore Orioles O/U: How Orioles Hit Over

In 2023, the new-look Baltimore Orioles made attending baseball games at Camden Yards fun again. They asserted themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the present and the future, winning 101 games and the American League East (AL) division title before falling short against the eventual world champion Texas Rangers in the playoffs. Now that these players know how to win, the Orioles will leave the nest and win more than the 89/90 wins that oddsmakers set in their preseason win expectations.

Orioles Rebuild: Draft and Develop

From 2018 to 2022, the Orioles endured an immense rebuild under former Houston Astros assistant general manager Mike Elias, who adapted the Astros’ blueprint to restore this historic franchise to prominence. Baltimore’s front office rapidly made the team’s farm- and player-development system one of the best in Major League Baseball (MLB).

All those losses and long seasons led to pristine drafting spots, which the Orioles used to select multiple elite talents, none bigger than catcher Adley Rutschman and shortstop Jackson Holliday, the first overall picks in 2019 and 2022. Rutschman enters his third season as one of the best catchers in the league, while Holliday will debut at some point this year after flying through the minor leagues last year at the age of 19.

In addition, the club drafted 2023 AL Rookie of the Year Gunnar Henderson (shortstop/third baseman) in the second round in 2019, starting first baseman Ryan Mountcastle and centerfielder Cedric Mullins in 2015, and likely starting second baseman Jordan Westburg in 2020. Baltimore also re-invested in the international/Latin American player market, acquiring and developing many players from foreign countries.

The Orioles helped hard-throwing Dominican Félix Bautista harness his control and rise from a 2016 minor-league signee who had flamed out of the Miami Marlins organization to one of the best and most intimidating closers in MLB over the past couple of years.

Reasons to Take the Over

1) Offensive Potential

While it may be hard for the Orioles to win more than 100 games again, they do have a clear path to over 90 wins as their entire core from last year returns, and the club has made some significant acquisitions this offseason to plug holes and improve the team’s potential.

The New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays look poised to be the main competition, with the Yankees’ dynamic duo of Juan Soto and Aaron Judge and the Toronto Blue Jays returning almost the same squad from last year’s playoff group. Yet, returning manager Brandon Hyde’s squad is battle-tested and eager to make a deeper run in the MLB playoffs. Their offense had no problem scoring enough runs to win games last year until their bats went cold in the AL Divisional Series.

In 2024, the Orioles will continue to pressure opposing pitchers and defenders as they have the talent and depth to have another good offensive campaign. Plus, they have an ace in the hole as Holliday, the number one prospect in baseball, stands to give them a massive boost and has a chance to become the second-straight Rookie of the Year from this franchise.

2) Impact Pitching Additions

The team’s bullpen will look different at the back as the club signed veteran free agent Craig Kimbrel to take the injured Bautista’s closer role. Knowing how shaky Kimbrel was for the Philadelphia Phillies in last year’s postseason, Orioles’ fans may be apprehensive when he takes the mound, especially in high-pressure situations. While he is not as good as he once was, the fact remains that Kimbrel is one of the most decorated closers in recent memory and should help solidify the late innings for this team alongside 2023 All-Star setup man Yennier Cano.

The Kimbrel acquisition served as the appetizer, biding time until the main course. Former National League Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes is an Oriole for his final year of club control. The club bit the bullet, trading two highly-regarded young players (DL Hall and Joey Ortiz) from their deep prospect stash for the Milwaukee Brewers’ longtime ace pitcher.

Burnes against Yankee ace Gerrit Cole will be must-watch encounters, and he provides the club with the mound star power it needs to take the next step. His acquisition looms large because the club’s best starter last year, Kyle Bradish, recently sprained his ulnar collateral ligament. If and when Bradish returns, he, Burnes, and sophomore breakout candidate Grayson Rodriguez will form a top-three good enough to keep this team in most games.

All the pieces are in place for the Orioles to hit the over and have a second-straight excellent season. The roster has similar faces, multiple players may break out or improve from past performances, and the outside additions fit like gloves. Now is the time for this squad to keep their foot on the gas and not rest their laurels, especially with the recent announcement of an ownership sale that further energized the excited Orioles’ fanbase.

Main Image: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

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