For the most part, the Orioles did what you expected this past season. The lineup hit a ton of home runs. The starting rotation wasn't good, but it did enough to enable the Orioles to make the playoffs. And the bullpen was excellent. But every season has its share of surprises, and these were the five biggest ones for the 2016 season.
The Orioles didn't bring Trumbo aboard to steal a bunch of bases or transform into a useful defensive outfielder. He was added because of his ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark. And he did that -- 47 times, to be exact. That was four more times than the next closest player (Nelson Cruz, of course). Trumbo continued the run of O's players leading the majors in home runs. The last time that didn't happen was in 2012, when Miguel Cabrera finished with 44 taters.
The Orioles essentially picked Trumbo up in a salary dump, and he rewarded them by matching his best offensive season in 2012 (123 wRC+ this year, and a 124 wRC+ in 2012). Not bad. He also excelled primarily versus right-handed pitching, which was particularly odd, but definitely welcome.
Hyun Soo Kim
We've been over this, but a quick recap: Buck Showalter didn't want Kim on the major league roster to start the year. The Orioles explored getting rid of him before the season even started. He was booed on opening day. Kim barely played in March and April. But whenever Kim played, he hit, forcing his way onto the lineup card. His .382 on-base percentage was the best among O's regulars by nearly 40 points. His 119 wRC+ was second best on the team behind Manny Machado and Trumbo.
His wins above replacement numbers (0.9 on FanGraphs and 0.6 on Baseball-Reference) don't look great, mostly held down by his ugly advanced defensive metrics in left field. I wouldn't try to tell you that Kim is a good outfielder, but I don't think he's 13 runs below average (according to Defensive Runs Saved data). Even still, Kim is under contract for one more year at around $4 million, and that deal is easily one of the best Dan Duquette has ever made.
Did you see Brach's season coming? I didn't. There were signs that Brach was going to be good; his 2015 was certainly more than many fans anticipated. And yet, he took another step forward this season. After posting a 2.72 ERA and 3.47 FIP in 2015, Brach improved with a 2.05 ERA and 2.92 FIP this year. He saw a slight uptick in strikeouts while also cutting his walks by about 1.5 per nine innings.
Did Brach wear down in the second half? Maybe. A .211 BABIP in the first half of the season, followed by a .346, might do a better job of explaining some of his second-half struggles, especially since his strikeout and walk numbers were about the same. Still, Brach stepped up in a major way while Darren O'Day missed a chunk of the year battling injuries, and he even made the all-star team. It's hard to ask for much more than that from someone who was acquired for then-minor leaguer Devin Jones.
Any rational O's fan only wanted to see one thing from Bundy in 2016: him escape the season without injury. But not only did Bundy do that, but he started 14 games in the second half and finished the year with almost 110 innings pitched. Before the year, Showalter said the O's wanted to get between 60-75 innings out of Bundy. Mission accomplished, and then some.
As a starter, Bundy posted a 4.52 ERA and sometimes struggled to get through the fifth inning. Nothing about that is surprising, though, and those are actually encouraging numbers for someone many weren't sure would ever throw a meaningful pitch in the majors again. You can't be too sure how long Bundy is ever going to stay healthy, but for now he's fine, and it's at least moderately exciting that he's exploring adding the cutter back to his pitch arsenal.
There are a few other players you could easily include here, but I went with Joseph, who was maybe the O's worst player even when factoring in his limited playing time. Joseph finished the year with a fWAR of -0.9, edging out Joey Rickard (-0.7) for worst on the team. He didn't hit at all, ending the year with a wRC+ of 6 and without a driving in a run in 141 plate appearances.
I don't think anyone expected Joseph to be any kind of force with the bat, and anything around his earlier numbers from 2014 or 2015 would certainly have been accepted. Now, with the strong possibility of Matt Wieters leaving via free agency, Joseph, even with his framing skills and strong arm, is no longer the sure thing to receive a majority of the work behind the plate. The O's could bite the bullet and bring Wieters back on a multi-year deal, or they could look outside the organization for another catcher (Jon has been talking about the possible fit of Jason Castro for much of the season). But the sunny outlook for Joseph is mostly gone.
Honorable mentions: Joey Rickard, Donnie Hart, Trey Mancini, Michael Bourn