With Nelson Cruz Now In The Lineup, It’s Time To Compare This Year’s O’s Lineup With The 1996 Version

Entertainment, Sports and Bets — February 24, 2014 at 1:53 pm by

Unless you live under the JFX, you may have heard that the Orioles made one of the best free agent moves in baseball this weekend, signing OF/DH Nelson Cruz to a 1 year, $8 million deal.  This move is so Dan Duquette, getting good value on talent, and it’s hard to believe that I ever doubted the guy now that the Birds went out and signed two big named free agents in the course of a week.  The Ubaldo Jimenez deal looks like a good one, and the Birds actually gave a free agent pitcher a four-year deal. (Gasp)  But this Cruz deal looks like a brilliant move for the ever money conscience Birds.  Cruz has legit power, and will fit nicely into this lineup as protection for Adam Jones or Chris Davis, depending on how Buck wants to play it.  For the majority of last season, Davis batted in the five-spot, but now with Cruz in orange and black, I see Davis up at the clean-up hole and Cruz batting fifth.  The 3-4-5 of Jones- Davis-Cruz, looks awfully good as the hub of a new Camden Yards murderers row.  In fact, the addition of Cruz could turn this Orioles’ lineup into one of the best in franchise history, barring injuries and assuming that most of the players in the lineup perform up to snuff.  The power potential is tremendous, there are easily six players who could hit 20 home runs in 2014.  That would rival the record-setting lineup of the 1996 Orioles, who blasted a team record 257 home runs.  (That was a Major league record at that time.)  So just for fun and good times, lets compare the 1996 Orioles lineup with this 2014 version.

1996 Orioles

Note:  Eddie Murray was traded for in July, and Todd Zeile arrived in late August from Philadelphia.  When Murray arrived this team really hit its stride, going 39-28 after his arrival.   When Zeile arrived, Surhoff moved to left field, and Ripken moved from 3rd in the order to 6th (that was for 30 games). But here’s a rough sketch of what the Birds looked like the majority of the season.  (Mike Devereaux appeared in over 100 games as 4th outfielder/ DH)  (If you count Murray’s home runs in Cleveland and put  Todd Zeile in the lineup and account for his home runs in Philly, all 9 of Baltimore’s players on the final day of the season had hit more than 20 home runs.)

1.  Brady Anderson:  .297   50 HR – 110 RBI

2. Roberto Alomar:  .328  22 HR – 94 RBI

3. Cal Ripken:  .278  26 HR – 102 RBI

4. Rafael Palmeiro:  .289  39 HR – 142 RBI

5.  Bobby Bonilla:  .287  28 HR – 116 RBI

6.  BJ Surhoff:  .292  21 HR –  81 RBI

7.  Eddie Murray: .257 10 HR – 34 RBI (with Orioles)

8.  Chris Hoiles:  .258  25 HR – 73 RBI

9. Jeffrey Hammonds/Mike Devereaux: 17 HR – 61 RBI


2014 Orioles:

The stats here are based 2013  numbers.  This lineup reflects a healthy Manny on Opening Day.  With a healthy Markakis, a progressing Machado and an everyday Flaherty, eight guys could hit 15 or more home runs this season.  (Cruz played in only 109 games last year due to PED suspension.)

1. Nick Markakis: .271  10 HR – 59 RBI

2. Manny Machado:  .283  14 HR – 71 RBI

3. Adam Jones:  .285  33 HR – 108 RBI

4. Chris Davis:  .286  53 HR – 138 RBI

5. Nelson Cruz:  .266  27 HR –  76 RBI

6.  J.J. Hardy:  .263  25HR  -76 RBI

7.  Matt Wieters:  .235 22HR- 79RBI

8.  David Lough: .286  5 HR- 33 RBI

9.  Ryan Flaherty: .224 10HR – 27RBI


The 1996 lineup was pretty damn outrageous, wasn’t it?  There wasn’t a weak stick in the order, especially after Todd Zeile arrived for the last 29 games of the year. He added 5 HRs and 19 RBIs as a Bird.  This year, the potential to come close to the home run and run production of the 1996 team is there.  Will they break the club record of 949 runs that the ’96 squad set?  No way, but this new lineup has plenty of pop, and if Manny Machado comes back healthy and progresses as planned, this club easily has 6 guys who could hit 20 or more home runs.  Add a strong year from Markakis and a big maybe from Ryan Flaherty and 8 dudes blasting out 15 bombs or more is a real possibility.

The Cruz signing creates a great power potential and provides tremendous top-to-bottom depth.  It was an $8 million no-brainer.  With him in the lineup the 3-4-5 power alley of Jones, Davis and Cruz could all individually go over the 30 HR/100RBI plateau, and those are elite numbers.  And who knows, if the season plays out perfectly, the 2014 Orioles as a whole could come close to matching their 1996 counterparts in terms of power and run production.  I know all of Baltimore hopes that’s exactly what happens.




One Comment

  1. What a dumb comparison

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