The Baltimore Orioles are finally set to kick off the 2022 MLB campaign on Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays. The first of a three-game series will take place in Tampa before the Orioles host the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday.
Major League Baseball’s official start to the season will take place on Thursday, with 14 teams slated to be in action. Originally, it was meant to be 18 teams playing on Opening Day, but Yankees-Red Sox and Twins-Mariners were postponed due to inclement weather.
This comes after a labor dispute between the players union and the owners pushed back Opening Day. The new season was originally set to kick off on March 31.
While the Orioles haven’t had much to write home about in recent years, there’s still much at stake in regards to Maryland sports betting. Mobile sports betting is currently illegal in the state. However, residents can place bets in-person at several casinos around the state.
In an effort to help Marylanders be more informed ahead of placing any bets, PlayMaryland enlisted the help of The Athletic‘s Orioles beat writer, Dan Connolly. Below, we hit on a myriad of topics that will help one hopefully feel more comfortable heading into the season.
Is there any scenario in which one should place a bet on the Orioles to win the AL East?
We think Dan said it best:
Connolly: Nope. Not one, short of four separate tragedies. This division is too good and the Orioles are not close yet. Fourth place would be a huge surprise.
To put things into perspective, according to DraftKings, of the top 10 teams with the best odds to win the 2022 World Series, three of them reside in the American League East (Blue Jays, +850; Yankees, +950; Rays, +1700). The fifth team of the division — the Red Sox — boasts the 11th-best odds to win it all at +2200.
DraftKings gives the Orioles +15000 odds to win the AL East, tied for the longest odds of any team within its respective division. The Diamondbacks also have the same odds in the National League West.
What about the over/under for total wins in the regular season?
Last season, the Orioles tied for MLB’s worst record at 52-110 with — you guessed it — the Diamondbacks. DraftKings has set the over/under for Baltimore’s 2022 total wins total at 62.5 (-115 odds to hit the over, -105 odds to finish under).
So question is, will they hit that mark?
Connolly: I think that is about right, but I’d go under because the AL East has gotten even tougher and they still play 76 games against division opponents. Even if they are 10 games better in 2022, and that’s a serious jump, they’d still fall under.
I think this season is another 100-plus-loss campaign and 2023 is a year when they may shake 100 losses.
Chances Cedric Mullins tops last season?
Outfielder Cedric Mullins is coming off a career season for the Orioles. He became the first Baltimore player to register 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a single season. He also slashed .291/.360/.518 at the plate while racking up 175 hits.
Will he be ready to follow that up with an encore performance? What are the chances he can finish as the MLB’s stolen base leader? (Mullins is given +750 odds by DraftKings; Kansas City’s Adalberto Mondesi leads at +250.)
Connolly: I don’t think Mullins is going to repeat a 30-30 (30 home runs, 30 stolen bases) simply because they are so hard to do. It was the first in Orioles’ history. I would think 20-25 (home runs) and 30-35 (stolen bases) would mark another really good season for him.
So, because of that, I don’t see him leading the majors with a max of 35 steals. If healthy, he should stay in the conversation. But I don’t see that as a good wager.
If he stays healthy, however, there is no reason he can’t get close to the 175-hit total he had in 2021. He’ll be one year removed from switching to batting left-handed only, and that should make him a better hitter.
Which Oriole is likely to finish with the most home runs?
The home run has become king in today’s MLB. And despite finishing with the league’s worst record last season, the Orioles were middle-of-the-pack when it came to home runs hit.
At 195 total homers for 2021, Baltimore outslugged teams such as the Brewers, the White Sox and the Padres. Four Orioles paced the team with 20-plus home runs, with another narrowly behind with 18.
Ryan Mountcastle led the way for Baltimore last season with 33, but can he do it again in 2022?
Connolly: Mountcastle is by far the best bet here. He had a terrible start and still hit 33 last year. This kid’s power is for real. Yes, I know they moved the left-field wall back 26 feet at Camden Yards and Mountcastle is a right-handed hitter. But this kid is country strong. He may lose a couple there, but I think 25-plus is a near given for him.
I’d probably go with Anthony Santander (18 HRs in 2021) next, but you always have to be aware of the injury situation. I would think Trey Mancini will hit more than his 21 homers last year, but I don’t think he is spending the whole season in Camden Yards, either. So, that becomes a wild card.
How many wins will John Means rack up?
Wins and losses is no longer a very telling statistic when it comes to analyzing modern pitchers. No matter how good one might be on the mound, a pitcher can still end up with a tally in the loss column depending on how the rest of the team plays.
For the Orioles last season, starting pitcher John Means led the way with six wins in 26 games pitched. Matt Harvey tied that mark in 28 games started.
While the win-loss record may have lost its luster in recent years, should fans expect Means to improve upon the six wins in 2021?
Connolly: So hard to predict since it’s not really up to him. I think he’ll be good. And I think the bullpen will be better (it can’t be worse). But winning more than six games for this team won’t be easy. He should have had 10 wins last year and didn’t.
There are two things to watch here: Every year Means loses a few starts due to a muscle strain in his shoulder/back. He worked again this offseason on strengthening that area. But it is something that happens.
And, although I think he stays on the team, he could be traded in-season to a contender, which could alter his wins.
Whether you are participating in legal betting at various retail sportsbooks across Maryland or not this season, we hope you learned a bit more about the Orioles heading into the season.