2023 Rival Preview: The Orioles had a surprisingly quiet winter after their breakout season

Over the next few weeks, we’ll look at each American League team and discuss their 2022 season, their offseason moves, and their 2023 outlook. Let’s start with the Baltimore Orioles…

2022 season recap…
The Orioles exceeded everyone’s expectations during the 2022 season. Despite being a shoo-in to finish last in the AL East, the Orioles entered September only 1.5 games back of a Wild Card spot. They would ultimately miss the playoffs, but a 4th place division finish and an 83-79 record made the Orioles seem a year or two ahead of their rebuild. They were also no longer the Blue Jays’ punching bag, clearly handing that role over to the Red Sox.
2022 featured the much-anticipated debut of C Adley Rutschman. Rutschman was baseball’s top prospect at the time of his call-up and would finish second in Rookie of the Year voting. Rutschman owned a .254 batting average, 13 homers, and 42 RBIs through 113 games, and it looks like he’ll be the Orioles’ backstop of the future.

Who else is looking forward to a full year of Adley Rutschman?pic.twitter.com/bbV6zxYPVl
— MLB Caught Stealing (@MLB_CS) January 24, 2023

Many knew about Baltimore’s sluggers: 1B Ryan Mountcastle, RF Anthony Santander, and CF Cedric Mullins are all established major league players who have developed well during their first few years in the league. Mullins was an All-Star in 2021, and although his production regressed a little in 2022, he still finished 3rd in the MLB in stolen bases, profiling as an ideal leadoff man for the Orioles.
Blue Jays fans are more than aware of Mountcastle’s presen …

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Author: Evan Stack / Blue Jays Nation

Ranking Every Blue Jays Pitcher for 2023

A few weeks ago, I released a list ranking each of the thirteen position players projected to start the season on the Blue Jays’ active roster. This time, it’ll be pitchers.

This one’s gonna a be a little more difficult, however. For those of you who either didn’t read or didn’t notice, the position players were ranked based on how much WAR I thought they’d produce. In this case, relievers are disadvantaged in a ranking based on WAR, because they’re not going to pitch even close to the same number of innings.
I’ve had to think about how to do this. Adjusting per IP doesn’t really make sense because WAR doesn’t measure value for relievers as well as I’d like it to. Unfortunately, I think the best way to do it is to rank based on ERA. Volume contributes heavily to value, but I want to rank relievers and starters on the same scale, so this is how I’ll do it.

Keep in mind, just like last time, I’m going to assume that each player stays fully healthy. Even though it’ll never happen, injuries are too hard to predict, especially for pitchers. With that being said, let’s jump in once again, with number 13.
13. Trevor Richards, RHP, Relief
Richards really struggled at the start of 2022, but he got his homer problem under control and finished strong. The issue is that he’s basically always been the same guy when it comes to having a long ball problem. His sudden drop in HR/9 rate at the end of last year doesn’t have a large enough sample to assume that it’s really who he is. Until h …

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Author: Tate Kispech / Blue Jays Nation

Winter League wrap-up: Could Rainer Núñez win the LIDOM MVP? Bowden Francis continues to dominate, and more!

At the end of November, we looked at how each Jays prospect was doing in their respective winter leagues. Today, we’ll do the same.

I don’t think it’s a hot take to say that a Blue Jay prospect could be a Most Valuable Player candidate in the Dominican Winter League (LIDOM). Let’s start there.
Rainer Núñez MVP-calibre campaign:
When Estrellas de Oriente drafted Rainer Núñez in the fourth round of the 2022 LIDOM draft, one has to imagine what they were expecting from the young first baseman.
I wouldn’t assume they expected an MVP calibre season for the rookie, but that’s what they’ve gotten so far.
Núñez, who recently turned 22 years old, is slashing .270/.314/.487 in 118 plate appearances with Estrellas. While that’s impressive in its own right, he currently leads the league with seven homers, again, as a 21/22-year-old.

Le dio pa’ la calle el MVP de esta semana 💥 ¡HOMERUN de Rainer Núñez que empata las acciones para las @EOBASEBALLCLUB! 🐘🔥#LIDOM #CopaBanreservas ⚾️🏆 pic.twitter.com/MXZbP0qcVs
— LIDOM (@LIDOMRD) December 7, 2022

His seven home runs are tied for the most since the 2019 season. Furthermore, the last time someone his age led the league in homers was back in the 2012-13 season. That season saw Marcell Ozuna (also a rookie) hit nine homers as a 22-year-old, which is a LIDOM record for rookies.
A comparable MVP season came from Peter O’Brien in the 2019-2020 season. He slashed .243/.386/.479 with nine homers in 210 plate appearances. While O’Brien was older, he did also have a higher on-base percentage. 
Núñez could very well be in contention for the MVP award this season, and with less than two weeks remaining in the regular season, it’ll come down to the wire. The Dominican Winter League is free to watch on MLB . tv, so definitely tune in! Estrellas are currently fourth in the LIDOM standings, so they’d be in the playoffs if it were to start today!
Vinny Capra:
Next up, we’ll look at Vinny Capra, who also plays for Estrellas.

Vinny …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

As free agency dwindles, try-outs come to the forefront: some good PTO fits for the Leafs

There’s a certain point each August where the well of news and excitement in the NHL offseason almost completely dries up. We are at that point. The well begins to refill as prospect camps and full team training camps approach, but we’re not quite there yet. We’re in this weird, quiet dead of the summer for hockey. Some resort to watching baseball or spending time outside with loved ones, but me, I choose to look at what remaining free agents could be good choices to bring to Leafs training camp on a Professional Try-Out (PTO) agreement.
It’s quite common for the Leafs to bring in PTO players. Last year, they brought notable forward Joshua Ho-Sang in on an AHL contract and a PTO for the NHL training camp, however he ended up remaining just with the Marlies without an NHL deal. They also brought in another small playmaking forward in Nikita Gusev, both of whom did sign with the Leafs or anywhere else. With their skill levels, if some chemistry or a really good fit developed in training camp, then a contract could easily have materialized for either of them. Over the last 3 years, over 40% of players who signed PTOs went on to …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation