10 February 2006

All-Baseball.column - Orioles in Oh-Six?

A recent ESPN.com feature discussed the possibilities of "surprise" teams for 2006. Jerry Crasnick, ESPN contributor and author of License to Deal, discusses the Brewers and Twins as teams that could, in his estimation, do much better than expected and possibly make the playoffs. Personally, I don't think the Twins are a particularly brave pick for that role, as they had won their division for three straight years before 2005 and underperformed considerably last year. They still won 83 games despite the fact that firstbaseman Justin Morneau flopped in his second full season, catcher (and Rookie of the Year candidate) Joe Mauer missed 30 games, and the rest of the infield provided almost no offense at all. The Twins were so desperate that they actually tried Bret Boone for a while in mid-summer, to no avail. Based on regression to the mean alone, the Twins should bounce back and improve their offense considerably, which has nowhere to go but up after scoring the fewest runs in the AL last year.

My pick? The Baltimore Orioles.

Baltimore hasn't had a winning season since 1997, the last time a team other than the Yankees won the AL East. I'm still picking the Yankees to continue that streak, but I think that the Orioles could surprise people and win the Wild Card, or at least contend for it. How? Glad you asked...

Read the rest at All-Baseball.com...

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