Orioles position reviews: All week, The Baltimore Banner’s sports staff will review how each position group performed in the 2023 season.

The Orioles infield had more competition than any other spot, with rookies like Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg and veterans like Ramón Urías and Adam Frazier all vying for at-bats.

At first base, Ryan Mountcastle and Ryan O’Hearn formed a surprise platoon pairing as O’Hearn delivered a breakout season. Each has a strong bat, and they oftentimes both found their way into the lineup and were sometimes starting in the field at different positions. Mountcastle is a Gold Glove finalist.

Around the infield to second, Frazier was signed on a one-year deal to be the primary guy there. He started 106 games, with Westburg and his steady hand taking over more and more as the season went on.

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For shortstop, the Orioles began the season with Jorge Mateo as the starter, and he stayed in the lineup during a stand-out April and into the summer. But, as his performance at the plate dipped, Henderson became the go-to there.

And over to third, where Henderson and Westburg also ate up time. As did Urías, but he didn’t showcase the same Gold Glove defense as he did in years prior.

Baltimore Orioles first baseman Ryan O’Hearn (32) celebrates with second baseman Adam Frazier (12) after scoring a run during a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

2023 stat lines:

Ryan O’Hearn (LHH): 112 games played (59 starts at 1B, 18 starts in OF, 12 starts at DH), 100 hits, 14 HR, 60 RBI with a .289 batting average and .801 OPS.

Ryan Mountcastle (RHH): 115 games played (86 starts 1B and 22 at DH), 114 hits, 18 HR, 68 RBI with a .270 batting average and .779 OPS.

Adam Frazier (LHH): 141 games played (106 starts at 2B), 99 hits, 13 HR, .240 batting average and a .696 OPS.

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Jordan Westburg (RHH): 68 games played (35 starts at 2B and 18 starts at 3B), 54 hits, 3 HR, .260 batting average and a .715 OPS.

Gunnar Henderson (LHH): 150 games played (68 starts at 3B, 64 starts at SS and 11 starts at DH), 143 hits, 28 HR, .255 batting average and .814 OPS.

Jorge Mateo (RHH): 116 games played (95 starts at SS), 69 hits, 7 HR, .217 batting average and .607 OPS.

Ramón Urías (RHH): 116 games played (73 starts at 3B and 15 starts at 2B), 95 hits, 4 HR, .264 batting average and .703 OPS.

Other options:

Joey Ortiz saw very limited action in the big leagues this year, playing in just 15 games spread out from April to June. He can play second, shortstop and third. He fared OK, getting seven hits in 33 at-bats, but didn’t do enough in either direction to leave an impression.

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In Norfolk, he hit .321 with 9 HR and 58 RBI, good for an .885 OPS.

2024 outlook:

Henderson, Westburg, O’Hearn and Mountcastle are all expected to be back next season.

Frazier, a free agent, will likely not be re-signed. Mateo or Urías, both in arbitration, may also be on the chopping block or the trade market. Mateo did have a strong postseason — going 4-for-4 in his one start — and is a valuable pinch-runner, but the Orioles have other players with speed now.

Ortiz could also be a piece that’s moved — on any other team he could probably be an everyday player.

The Orioles have even more players waiting in Triple-A, specifically top prospect Jackson Holliday, who can play second and shortstop. The starting infield in 2024 very well could be: O’Hearn or Mountcastle at first, Holliday at second, Henderson at shortstop and Westburg at third, with Mateo and Urías or some of their prospects on the bench.

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Jackson Holliday takes the field for Norfolk. (Photo by Sydney Smith, courtesy of the Norfolk Tides.)
Jackson Holliday takes the field for Norfolk. (Photo by Sydney Smith, courtesy of the Norfolk Tides.)

Prospects to watch:

Holliday, Holliday and Holliday. The top prospect in baseball, still just a teenager, will be in major league spring training again with a chance to make the team. The question for him is when next season he’ll be in Baltimore, not if. He jumped from Low-A to Triple-A with ease this year, hitting .323 with 12 home runs.

Behind him, though, is a slew of talented infielders. Coby Mayo (1B/3B) and Connor Norby (2B/OF) both ended the year in Triple-A and are expected to debut next season.

danielle.allentuck@thebaltimorebanner.com

Additional position reviews:

Danielle Allentuck covers the Orioles for The Baltimore Banner. She previously reported on the Rockies for the Denver Gazette and general sports assignments for The New York Times as part of its fellowship program. A Maryland native, Danielle grew up in Montgomery County and graduated from Ithaca College. 

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