By Eriq Gardner //
Biggest Surprise & 2011 Regression Alert: Jeremy Guthrie
Forgive us, we’re grading on a curve on this one. Truth is, no Baltimore Orioles pitcher surpassed expectations this past season. Forced under gunpoint to pick, we’ll grudgingly give the honor to Guthrie, who notched a season with an ERA under 4.00, thanks to both a sparkling walk rate of 2.15 BB/9 IP and some good luck (.263 batting average on balls in play, vs. league average of around .300). More broadly, Guthrie doesn’t strike out too many batters and his ability to keep the ball on the ground is nothing special. Don’t bid on him next year, except in very deep mixed leagues or AL-only formats.
Biggest Disappointment: Mike Gonzalez
Last December, the Orioles signed Gonzalez to a two-year contract worth $12 million, hoping to finally find a closer after years of searching for one. Almost from the moment that Gonzalez signed the deal, it was a big mistake. In spring training, he couldn’t even muster 90 MPH on the radar gun and spent about half the season in rehab, attempting to recover the ability to dominate batters with strikeouts. He finished the year with just a single save.
2011 Keeper Alert: Brian Matusz
Certainly, Matusz was also a disappointment this season. Entering 2010, many considered him to be the leading favorite for Rookie of the Year. With just 10 wins and a 4.30 ERA, he didn’t come close. Still, the left-hander has a pretty bright future, as evidenced by a strong close to the season. In 56 innings of work during the final two months, Matusz had an ERA around 2.00 and 43 strikeouts to just 14 walks.