17. Baltimore Orioles (71-72, minus-41, LT: 18)
With a farm system that sometimes struggles to churn out talent and a budget that’s healthy but still below the top-spending teams in the league, the Orioles often need to pull off shrewd, under-the-radar moves to keep up in the perpetually loaded AL East.
Count the signing of Welington Castillo as one of those moves. Despite a paper-thin market for free-agent catchers, the O’s somehow reeled in Castillo for just one year and $6 million guaranteed (plus a $7 million player option for 2018). For that paltry sum, Baltimore’s scored a .293/.330/.505 line from Castillo, with their starting backstop having already tied his career high with 19 home runs. By park-adjusted offense, only Willson Contreras, Gary Sanchez, Alex Avila, Buster Posey, and Robinson Chirinos(!) have been better (minimum: 250 plate appearances).
If anything, you could look at this Orioles season, see Castillo rake for next to nothing; Tim Beckham lay waste to the American League after being nabbed at the deadline for nothing; Jonathan Schoop break out and become of the most devastating hitters in the league; the bullpen do a lot of the same excellent work in the late innings that they’ve been doing for years; see the team below .500 ... and realize just how truly awful the Orioles are at building a starting rotation.