The Orioles are heading into the 2023 season with expectations of heading to the postseason, something that’s not been the case in the last four years.
For the O’s, a mix of young and veteran talent will comprise the ball club this year. With that, we can predict which players will look to flip a switch this season and make their names in the big leagues.
Today, we’re going to predict which five O’s position players will have the highest wins above replacement (WAR) in 2023. WAR is a statistic used to measure a player’s value in all facets of the game by deciphering how many more wins he’s worth than a replacement-level player at his same position.
With that being known, let’s go straight into our list.
5. Anthony Santander: 2022 WAR (2.1) – 2023 Projected WAR (2.6)
Santander hit a career-high 33 home runs last season. He slashed .240/.318/.455, recording 89 RBIs, leading to an offensive WAR of 2.7.
His defense holds him back from having a higher overall WAR, but if he plays more games as the designated hitter, his WAR should increase in 2023.
Also, with the banning of the shift, Tony could have an even better season, especially when he bats from the left side.
4. Ryan Mountcastle: 2022 WAR (1.3) – 2023 Projected WAR (2.9)
Mountcastle has a ton of upside that leads most to believe 2023 will be his breakout year.
Even though he hit 55 home runs in the past two years, he was struck with a lot of bad luck in his 2022 campaign. He batted just .250 when his expected batting average was .277, which happens to be in the top nine percent of the league.
Mountcastle is also in the top percentiles for expected slugging, barrels, exit velocity and, on the defensive side, outs above average. With his great ability to hit the ball hard and steadily improving his defense at first base, Mounty will have a near elite year in 2023.
3. Gunnar Henderson: 2022 WAR (0.9/34 Games) – 2023 Projected WAR (3.7)
Henderson is MLB Pipeline’s top ranked prospect for 2023, and he is going to live up to the hype this season. He has the versatility to play any position in the infield and has an electric bat.
Henderson appeared in 112 minor league games before he got called up to the big leagues, where he played in 34 games. He tallied 30 hits, 12 for extra bases, in 116 at-bats.
The brief taste of experience in the majors will hopefully prove to be beneficial for Henderson in 2023. A full season of the “Gun Show” will be worth watching.
2. Cedric Mullins: 2022 WAR (3.8) – 2023 Projected WAR (4.5)
Mullins creates chaos on the base paths, which is key in winning many games. He was second in the American League in stolen bases with 34, only behind teammate Jorge Mateo, who had 35.
Even though he had a bit of a down year following his All-Star season in 2021, he still slashed .258/.318/.403 in 2022.
On the other side of the ball, he is an outstanding center fielder. He is in the 96th percentile for outs above average in MLB and has a well above average jump in the outfield.
Mullins has the ability to get to fly balls that most outfielders simply can not. He is an extremely valuable player who is bound to have a bounce-back season.
1. Adley Rutschman: 2022 WAR (5.2) – 2023 Projected WAR (7.0)
A WAR of seven might be a bit of a high-ball estimate for Rutschman entering only his sophomore season in the majors, but it is absolutely attainable.
He is already the third highest-ranked catcher, according to MLB Network’s “Shredder,” though some could argue that he is second or even the best catcher in baseball right now.
Rutschman turned the Orioles’ pitching staff around when he showed up. He is an elite catcher in preventing runs from his ability to frame balls into strikes and throwing runners out trying to steal.
On the offensive side of things, Rutschman has a tremendous knowledge of the strike zone, as he walks a ton and doesn’t chase balls out of the zone very often. He also has great power, tallying 49 extra base hits in 398 at-bats last season.
Which O’s position players do you see having the highest WAR in 2023? Let us know in the comments below! And make sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on Facebook and Twitter, and use the hashtag #baltimorebattery when sharing our content!
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