Blue Jays vs. Orioles: Who has the upper hand in a position-by-position breakdown?

Graeme Wallace
Baltimore Orioles v Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles v Toronto Blue Jays / Kevin Hoffman/GettyImages
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First Base

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s numbers went down in almost every category after his monstrous 2021 campaign. He still produced a 132 OPS+ with 32 home runs, a career-high 35 doubles, and 97 RBI. Valddy’s defense was also significantly improved and he was recognized with his first Gold Glove award. Something in between, say a .900 OPS with 40 homers and more hardware, seems well within reach this season. 

Similarly, Ryan Mountcastle experienced a power dip last year, going from 33 bombs in 2021 to just 22 last season. He’s not known as a great defensive player and has only achieved a 2.2 WAR over the past two seasons. Mountcastle terrorized the Jays pitching staff to the tune of a 1.064 OPS with seven homers in 68 ABs in 2021 and then a 1.003 OPS with five more knocks in 2022.

Advantage: Blue Jays

Second Base

It’s looking like it’s gonna be a Santiago Espinal/Whit Merrifield combo platter for the Jays in 2023. It’s a strategy that could be ideal. Santi was hot coming out of the gate last year with a .298/.451/.801 slash line with five big flies and 18 doubles over his first 62 games. Meanwhile, Whit caught fire during the stretch run with a 20-51 (.417) clip with four homers and 11 RBI over the last 13 games.

Expect to see a lot of Gunnar Henderson, the O’s other prized prospect that debuted last season, in the middle of the diamond. He may get some reps at shortstop, and third base too, but either way, Henderson should get plenty of opportunities after flashing some pop in a 34-game cameo last year. Adam Frazier adds another element to this rivalry, as he was a key player in the Mariners' wild-card victory in October.

Advantage: Orioles

Shortstop

Jorge Mateo broke out in 2022, leading the AL in steals while showcasing some nifty glovework and power potential, with 45 extra-base hits.

Bo Bichette seemed to be stuck in the mud for much of last season but broke out in a big way by hitting .345 with 30 XBH over the final 58 games. He’s knocking on the door to a top-10 AL MVP season but needs to cut down on his errors.


Advantage: Blue Jays

Third Base

The results of the latest Gold Glove award for this position add intrigue to the upcoming season series. Three-time winner Matt Chapman did not win as some expected. Instead, Ramón Urías took home the trophy and he deserved it.

Urías had a higher dWAR (1.9 to 0.6). more defensive runs saved (14 to 2), and outs above average (7 to 1) in the first full-time role of his career. He was a slightly above-average hitter (.720 OPS, 16 HR) but was held to just a .549 OPs in 12 games versus the Jays' pitching. Chapman put up good power numbers and had his best year since 2019 but he will look to improve his average (.229) and regain the award he’s so synonymous with.

Advantage: Blue Jays

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