The intriguing Baltimore Orioles lineup


Or how bad can your team really be when your seven, eight and nine hitters all have a chance to reach 25 homers.

This is the Orioles lineup as I currently perceive it:

2B Brian Roberts
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
DH Wilson Betemit
1B Mark Reynolds
3B Chris Davis
LF Nolan Reimold

Of course, there are some big question marks there, starting at the very top. Roberts overcoming his concussion problems is the real key to Baltimore’s offense this season. If he’s not ready to go, then not only does that put Robert Andino in the lineup, but it also likely means Endy Chavez would start over Reimold against righties, since that’s the only way the team would have a “true leadoff hitter.”

But let’s say Roberts is healthy. Markakis too. That’s an awfully intriguing lineup, isn’t it? Eight players there have a legitimate shot of getting to 20 homers. Markakis is one of the least likely, yet he could finish with 15 and still be one of the team’s best players.

Here’s my current projection for each player in that lineup:

Roberts: .269/.343/.389, 7 HR, 43 RBI in 453 AB
Hardy: .260/.315/.450, 25 HR, 75 RBI in 542 AB
Markakis: .301/.373/.461, 18 HR, 83 RBI in 612 AB
Jones: .287/.335/.473, 24 HR, 91 RBI in 571 AB
Wieters: .286/.360/.495, 25 HR, 80 RBI in 497 AB
Betemit: .269/.335/.456, 19 HR, 67 RBI in 447 AB
Reynolds: .240/.333/.490, 35 HR, 88 RBI in 526 AB
Davis: .247/.302/.434, 22 HR, 65 RBI in 511 AB
Reimold: .251/.333/.428, 18 HR, 54 RBI in 446 AB

Nothing there is too unrealistic, is it? Wieters’ projection is on the optimistic side, but then, I’m optimistic. Davis will need to keep his OBP respectible in order to get 500 at-bats, but given the alternatives, the Orioles might as well let him play full-time to see what he can do. Besides, Reynolds belongs at first base.

Of course, the Orioles aren’t at all likely to end up with eight 20-homer guys. No team in major league history has ever had more than seven (the 2009 Yankees and 2010 Rangers are two of the five teams to sport that many). But if things break right, it could be a surprisingly potent group one through nine.

Mike Fiers may not be ready for start of regular season due to back issue

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Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that Tigers starter Mike Fiers is dealing with a back issue and may not be ready for the start of the season. Manager Ron Gardenhire characterized the injury as a “stiff back” and added, “Maybe a little bit of a bulging disk or something like that.”

Fiers, 32, signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Tigers in December. He has had a forgettable spring, yielding 12 runs on 10 hits and eight walks with seven strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.

Fiers had a rotation spot locked up along with Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann, and Francisco Liriano. Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris were battling it out for the No. 5 spot. If Fiers opens the regular season on the 10-day disabled list, both could have spots in the rotation.