5 Orioles predictions for the 2023 season

January 2nd, 2023

This story was excerpted from Jake Rill's Orioles Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The end of the year is always a time to reflect. But it’s also a time to look ahead. And after a fun Orioles season in 2022, fans in Baltimore surely can’t wait to see what comes next in ‘23.

Here are five Orioles predictions for the upcoming year, and let’s come back next offseason to see which came true. (Well, unless none of them do. Then we can just forget these existed ...)

1. Grayson Rodriguez will make the Opening Day rotation -- and lead O’s starters in ERA

The first part of this prediction is much safer than the second. The 23-year-old Rodriguez (Baltimore’s No. 2 prospect and the No. 4 prospect in baseball per MLB Pipeline) was likely to reach the Majors in 2022 before a right lat strain sidelined him for three months. General manager Mike Elias said earlier this offseason that Rodriguez is “on the inside of the competition” for a rotation spot.
There’s nothing left for Rodriguez to prove in the Minors. As long as he stays healthy in Spring Training, he should be among the starters to break camp with the team. His stuff -- a four-pitch mix headlined by a high-octane fastball -- will immediately play in the big leagues.

2. Félix Bautista will earn his first All-Star nod as closer

The overpowering 6-foot-5 right-hander already has everything needed to become one of baseball’s next great closers: electric stuff, an entrance at Camden Yards with plenty of theatrics (featuring Omar’s whistle from “The Wire”) and an intimidating nickname (“The Mountain”).

After Jorge López was traded on Aug. 2, Bautista converted 12 of his 13 save opportunities and allowed more than one run only once in 20 appearances (15 of which were scoreless). The 27-year-old will continue to thrive in the ninth inning in ‘23.

3. The O’s will add a big bat at the Trade Deadline

If all goes mostly well in the first half, the Orioles might go all in as buyers at the Trade Deadline for the first time in the Elias era. That’s when they could acquire a power hitter to boost their lineup (assuming it’s still a need at that point).

Baltimore tied for 15th in MLB with 171 home runs this past season. A left-handed slugger (who wouldn’t be as affected by the deeper wall in left field) could be the piece who takes the O’s offense -- and their pursuit of the postseason -- to the next level.

4. Adley Rutschman will finish in the top five in American League MVP Award voting

Rutschman didn’t make his big league debut until May 21 and still ended up 12th in AL MVP voting this past season, receiving a fifth-place vote, an eighth-place vote, a ninth-place vote and three 10th-place votes. That’s how big of an impact the 24-year-old catcher made upon his arrival in Baltimore.

With his first opportunity to spend a full year in the Majors in 2023, Rutschman should continue to power the O’s with his bat, glove, pitch-calling ability, leadership and more. His impressive all-around game will make him a top-five player in the AL.

5. The Orioles will capture an AL Wild Card berth

Due to the combination of fewer games against AL East opponents, the continued progression of core players and the probable arrivals of more top prospects, Baltimore will return to the postseason in 2023. It’s the logical next step for the O’s, whose youngsters learned a valuable skill in ‘22 -- how to win.

The Orioles will finish 88-74 and go on the road for the AL Wild Card Series.