By Eriq Gardner //
Biggest Surprise: Luke Scott
Scott has a long track record of being underestimated. As a player who never got full playing time until the advanced age of 27, he’s been given short shrift again and again. But last season, Scott showed impressive power for the fourth consecutive season. One of the streakiest batters alive, Scott tore it up this season to the tune of 27 HR, a feat that’s particularly noteworthy given that homers were down MLB, and that Scott played in just 131 games.
Biggest Disappointment: Nick Markakis
The Orioles had O-so-many disappointments in 2010. Matt Wieters hasn’t yet fulfilled the expectations that he might be Mark Teixeira with a catcher’s mitt. Adam Jones looked to be a budding superstar at the start of 2009, but has since taken a few steps back with his inability to take a walk. Brian Roberts was injured much of the season. And whatever happened to Nolan Reimold? Still, the closely contested award for biggest disappointment on the team has to go to Markakis, who hit just 12 HR in 2010, with just 60 RBI.
2011 Keeper Alert: Matt Wieters
As we just discussed, Wieters hasn’t yet fulfilled his promise. But he hasn’t played two full seasons in the big leagues yet either. A catcher with 35 HR potential just doesn’t come along very often. So we’ll give Wieters a pass, hoping that the 24-year-old may be on the verge of a breakout year.
2011 Regression Alert: Nick Markakis
A couple more words on Markakis as we look to next season. On the bright side, Markakis suffered from a woeful 6.1% HR-to-FB ratio, perhaps an indication that we could see a return to 20-plus homers next season. His BABIP was .331 last season, which indicates luck, but a deeper look reveals his strikeout rate went down and his walk rate went up. In other words, his sub-.300 average languished largely as a result of not getting the ball out of the park with higher frequency, as his flyballs found more gloves.