2024 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers & Busts: Baltimore Orioles

The Baltimore Orioles players you should and shouldn't draft in 2024.

The Baltimore Orioles return to the playoffs in 2023 came with plenty of notable storylines.

Gunnar Henderson took home Rookie of the Year honors in the American League with a 4.6 fWAR campaign, while manager Brandon Hyde won Manager of the Year as part of a 101-win season.

Henderson was one of a number of standouts among Orioles players in terms of fantasy success, batting .255 with a .325 on-base percentage, 28 home runs, and 10 stolen bases. There was also Adley Rutschman, who established himself as one of fantasy baseball’s elite catching options (particularly in leagues where on-base percentage is part of the scoring) with 20 home runs, a .277 average, a .374 on-base percentage, and a walk rate (13.4%) that nearly caught up to his strikeout rate (14.7%).

Elsewhere, Anthony Santander connected on 27 home runs, Jorge Mateo stole 32 bases and Félix Bautista dominated as a closer for much of the year with a 1.48 ERA and a 3.27 FIP in 61 innings, striking out 46.4% of the batters he faced in the process, before finishing the year on the injured list.

Yennier Cano also helped plenty of fantasy managers looking for bullpen reinforcements. And while he didn’t close for much of the year, the 29-year-old still turned in a strong 2.11 ERA and a 2.84 FIP in 72.2 innings of work.

Case in point, the Orioles had plenty of impact fantasy players bereft of a team with north of 100 wins. They’ll have plenty of potential impact players once again where fantasy is concerned in 2024. Just look at Henderson and Rutschman.

As always with most all teams, there are players to target and players to avoid in terms of Orioles players in fantasy baseball. Players who could be sleepers at their current ADP, and perhaps players who might be a smidgen too overvalued. These are those players.




Kyle Bradish

2023 Stats (168.2 IP): 2.83 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 168 K, 12 W


With the league’s 12th-highest fWAR among qualified starters, not to mention a 2.83 ERA and a 3.27 FIP in 30 starts spanning 168.2 innings pitched last season, nothing about what Kyle Bradish did flew under the radar. He was, in short, very good.

And that extends to fantasy baseball as well, as the starter rattled off 12 pitcher wins to go along with reasonably solid strikeout, walk, and home run metrics. The Baltimore starter struck out 8.96 batters per nine innings while surrendering 2.35 walks and 0.75 home runs per nine frames.

So you get it, he’s good at throwing a baseball.

But, while this may change a bit heading into draft season in the spring, the hurler is currently being selected as the 41st pitcher off the board in drafts, per NFBC data. Of those 41 pitchers, 28 are starters.

This is probably also a good time to mention that Bradish also had the second-best Stuff+ in the league among qualified starting pitchers with a 126 number, behind only Corbin Burnes at 127. And while Bradish’s 105 Pitching+ didn’t finish quite as close to the top of the league leaderboard, it was still decidedly above average. The starter’s 105 metric was tied for the seventh-highest in the league with Kevin Gausman, Justin Verlander, and Freddy Peralta.

Bradish looks like a potential top-20 starting pitcher in 2024. And while he won’t log the gaudy strikeout numbers that someone like Spencer Strider or Gerrit Cole, Bradish does enough in the way of strikeouts to provide solid value there. Especially when you combine the strikeouts with the fact that the 27-year-old is excellent at limiting and erasing mistakes. His 6.6% walk rate ranked in the 77th percentile and his 49.1% ground ball rate was in the 80th percentile.

Combine all that with a steady stream of home starts at Camden Yards, which had the ninth-lowest park factor where home runs were concerned, per Statcast, and you have a recipe for plenty of fantasy success.

It also doesn’t hurt, at least from a pitcher win potential standpoint, that Baltimore looks set to return their top eight batters in terms of wRC+ (minimum 300 plate appearances) from a lineup that finished seventh in the league in runs scored in 2023.


Dean Kremer

2023 Stats (172.2 IP): 4.12 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 157 K, 13 W


Dean Kremer might not have the same type of ceiling that Bradish does, but his performances in the second half of the 2023 campaign offer plenty of reasons for optimism heading into next season.

The 27-year-old’s start to 2023 was hardly ideal. He was lit up for a 5.04 ERA and a 5.09 FIP in 91 innings spanning 17 starts. And while he added nine pitcher wins and 82 strikeouts during that stretch, opponents posting an 11.0% barrel rate and a 45.2% hard-hit rate against him was a bit difficult to overcome. So too was allowing 24 walks and 19 home runs.

In fact, among qualified starters, Kremer owned the fifth-highest home runs per nine innings rate in the Majors with a 1.88 number.

Fast forward to July 5, the date of Kremer’s 18th start, and he was much improved, pitching to a 3.09 ERA and a 3.87 FIP in his final 15 outings (81.2 innings). The second-year starter also added 75 strikeouts compared to 31 walks and eight home runs allowed during that stretch.

And while there wasn’t a discernable change, or rather a significant tweak in pitch usage around that time specifically, improved results from the hurler’s cutter may have been the catalyst for the turnaround.

The former Dodgers prospect actually started throwing his cutter more as his primary offering besides his four-seamer a bit earlier in late May per Statcast data, but it really took off in July. Heading into the month, opponents logged xwOBA metrics of .534 (in April), .368 (May), and .369 (June) against Kremer’s cutter. Those numbers dropped to .301, .288, and .321 in July, August, and September respectively.

With the improved results from the cutter came a sharp downturn in quality contact from opposing batters, as well as more grounders more often. Hitters managed just a 6.4% barrel rate and a 34.0% hard-hit rate against the right-hander.

What’s more, his overall ground ball rate, which was 34.3% from Opening Day through July 4, jumped to a 45.5% number from July 5 onwards. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the ground ball rate against Kremer’s cutter spiked as well. Prior to July it never finished a month with a ground ball rate north of 42%. From July through the end of the year, it finished with respective ground ball rates by month of 53.8% (July), 56.3% (August), and 55.0% (September).

If Kremer can continue his momentum from 2023, with his improved cutter at the forefront of things, he’s certainly someone to target in the back half of drafts with the upside to significantly outperform that type of draft position. He’s especially an ideal target for fantasy managers looking to wait on pitching until later rounds.


Yennier Cano

2023 Stats (72.2 IP): 2.11 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 65 K, 1 W, 8 SV


Cano might not seem like a sleeper at first. Especially not after struggling down the stretch in 2023. The reliever, oftentimes stepping in to close after Félix Bautista was placed on the injured list on August 25, logged a 4.63 ERA and a 3.77 FIP in 11.2 innings, striking out eight batters while surrendering 10 hits, six earned runs, three walks, and a home run from August 26 through the end of the regular season.

As the FIP indicates in a reasonably small sample size, it wasn’t a tremendously poor stretch. But nor was it evocative of the 61-inning stretch prior to that in which the reliever logged a 1.62 ERA and a 2.66 while walking just 10 total batters and surrendering only three home runs.

There’s also the fact that the Orioles signed Craig Kimbrel during the Winter Meetings. According to a tweet from MLB.com’s Jake Rill on December 6, Kimbrel will reportedly serve as Baltimore’s closer.

So none of that, both on its own or when viewed collectively, is all that great for Cano’s early-season save chances.

But, and this is the key bit, he’s sharing a bullpen with Kimbrel.

Kimbrel hasn’t struggled, at least when looking at his overall season numbers, too much in the last pair of seasons. With the Dodgers in 2022 and the Phillies in 2023, the veteran pitched to respective FIPs of 3.23 and 3.81.

But besides those metrics, both the Dodgers and Phillies opted for other closers for stretches. Daniel Hudson and Brusdar Graterol combined for nine saves for Los Angeles in 2022, while three other relievers logged two saves apiece. Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, José Alvarado siphoned off 10 saves of his own while four other relievers had at least two saves each.

In fairness, Kimbrel led each team comfortably where the final save totals were concerned, with 22 in his lone season with the Dodgers and 23 in his only campaign with the Phillies, but the fact that he didn’t dominate the save chances more in both scenarios could, in theory, open the door for Cano to close games once again.

Even if it’s as an ancillary save option, Cano will once again be well worth rostering in all fantasy formats. If he suddenly finds himself with even part of a closing timeshare in Baltimore, he could be a league winner.




Ryan O’Hearn

2023 Stats: (368 PA): .289 AVG, 48 runs scored, 14 HR, 60 RBI, 5 SB


Ryan O’Hearn enjoyed a breakout season at the plate for the Orioles in 2023. Not only did he hit .289 while matching his career-best tally for home runs (14), but he also logged a 118 wRC+  in the process, while chipping in with five stolen bases.

Some of O’Hearn’s breakout was warranted and very much legit. He logged barrels at a considerably higher rate (10.1% to be exact) after not reaching double digits in the statistical category in any of the four prior seasons. The slugger also finished in the 94th percentile with a 51.5% hard-hit rate. That’s all good. So too, is a .464 xSLG, which for context finished in the 76th percentile league-wide.

What’s not so good, is that he did all of it with a rather high .340 BABIP that’s well above his career norms. O’Hearn has fished with a BABIP above the .300 mark just once in parts of the past five years, and that’s when it was .313 in a 145-plate appearance sample size during the 2022 campaign.

The BABIP doesn’t tell the entire story, but it’s worth keeping in mind when considering O’Hearn’s sudden spike in production relative to the rest of his career.

What’s more, there’s also the fact that the league may have adjusted to O’Hearn as the season went on. In May, June, and July he posted respective OPS numbers of .937, .867, and .893. After that, he logged OPS metrics of .710 and .724 in August and the combination of September and October. The veteran’s wRC+ numbers followed a similar pattern, going from 154 (May), 139 (June), and 142 (July) in the early season to 94 (August) and 95 (September and October) later in the season.

Dip in performance or not, what’s also not so good, at least from a fantasy standpoint, is that the former Royal saw 339 of his plate appearances against right-handed pitching, essentially serving as a platoon option for the Orioles.

Platoon options are plenty useful in deeper leagues or in leagues with expanded rosters like Ottoneu, but for many fantasy leagues, they don’t hold the same fantasy value despite the effectiveness against either right-handed or left-handed hurlers. The comparative difference in plate appearances over the course of a full season will do that for you.

What’s more, the Orioles look set (at least speculatively speaking) to incorporate Heston Kjerstad and Colton Cowser into the mix more. With Austin Hays, Anthony Santander, and Cedric Mullins still on hand and Jorge Mateo a candidate to potentially see more time in the outfield thanks to an influx of young infielders, Baltimore is staring at a crowded outfield portion of the depth chart, and that’s without any potential offseasons additions between now and Spring Training.

There’s first base as well as a possibility, but the Orioles also have Ryan Mountcastle, Santander, and Ramón Urías on hand there.

None of this is to say that O’Hearn won’t be a useful fantasy option in some formats, or even as a potential streaming option at first base as he was in the 2023 campaign, but as with another Orioles player on this list (slight spoilers ahead), it’s fair to worry about consistent playing time for the slugger heading into the 2024 season.


Jordan Westburg

2023 Stats: (228 PA): .260 AVG, 26 runs scored, 3 HR, 23 RBI, 4 SB


Long one of Baltimore’s more promising infield prospects, Westburg simply crushed Triple-A pitching in 2023 en route to making his Major League debut with the club. In 301 plate appearances with Baltimore’s Triple-A affiliate, the 24-year-old hit .295 with a .372 on-base percentage, 18 home runs, and six stolen bases in just 301 plate appearances, posting a .272 ISO in the process.

He saw reasonably similar game action in the Majors, with one more game played (67 at Triple-A, 68 in the Majors) and 73 fewer plate appearances.

And while the results, which also included a .311 on-base percentage, weren’t exactly bad per se, Westburg made much more of an impact with his glove than at the plate.

The infielder logged a 1.1 fWAR and a 3.0 Def for the Orioles. He wasn’t a significant net negative at the plate, logging a 97 wRC+ overall. However, consistent quality contact was largely missing from Westburg’s statistical docket last season.

Of course, it’s unfair to expect prospects to immediately come up and mash baseballs on a regular basis, but Westburg managed only a 6.5% barrel rate and a .315 xwOBA in the Majors. He did manage a 44.5% hard-hit rate which is good, but any excitement around that particular stat is dampened by a 14.3% infield fly ball rate that would’ve tied for the 17th-highest mark among qualified hitters.

There’s also the question of exactly how much Westburg plays next year. Of course, he’s likely to have some kind of role in Baltimore in his second Major League season, but the impending arrivals of fellow infielders Jackson Holiday and Connor Norby as they graduate from prospect status could put a strain on Westburg’s constant stream of plate appearances, especially with Henderson also on hand.

There’s certainly some deeper league fantasy upside here, especially in what should be another contending Orioles club, but most fantasy managers are probably better off looking elsewhere for infield options.



Ben Rosener

Ben Rosener is baseball and fantasy baseball writer whose work has previously appeared on the digital pages of Motor City Bengals, Bleacher Report, USA Today, FanSided.com and World Soccer Talk among others. He also writes about fantasy baseball for RotoBaller and the Detroit Tigers for his own Patreon page, Getting You Through the Tigers Rebuild (@Tigers_Rebuild on Twitter). He only refers to himself in the third person for bios.

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