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Quarter-season progress report: BAL and SD

He's really, really good ... just not this good


Orioles (16-23)

Overachieving - I've been on the Adam Jones bandwagon for a long time now, but .366/.421/.656 is a bit much even for us true believers. He's going to be a stud for a long time, but he's probably not going to be Willie Mays.

Underachieving - Signed to keep the position warm until Matt Wieters' arrival, Gregg Zaun has hit .194 and the pitching staff has a 5.60 ERA throwing to him behind the plate. Melvin Mora has failed to build upon last season's big second half, hitting .253/.309/.333 with more injuries. Jeremy Guthrie has a 5.21 ERA atop the AL's worst rotation. And Felix Pie is now disappointing a second fanbase.

Achieving - Nick Markakis's OPS by year: .799, .848, .897, .938. He's added a little something more to his game each season, and this time around it's been a reduction in strikeouts and subsequent rise in batting average. He already had the power-and-patience part down, so Markakis is now essentially a flawless all-around hitter at the age of 25.

Question marks - It'll be interesting to see if the Orioles look to shop guys like Mora, Aubrey Huff, Luke Scott, and George Sherrill, and just as interesting to see if there's a decent market for any of them. Huff has quietly been one of the AL's best hitters since the beginning of last season and a saves-obsessed team may overvalue Sherrill. There are some pieces in place to further the rebuilding effort.

On the horizon - Perhaps you've heard of this minor-league catcher, a kid named Wieters? Baseball's top prospect showed that he's human by getting off to a poor start at Triple-A, but has since been on a tear that has him up to .282/.370/.479 through 33 games. He'll be in Baltimore to stay next month, which should be a decent-sized upgrade over the aforementioned Zaun.

Outlook - Even avoiding a second straight last-place finish might be optimistic this season, but the Orioles are clearly on the rise with Wieters set to join Markakis, Jones, Nolan Reimold, and Brian Roberts as offensive building blocks. Pitching is another story, but there are also some power arms coming up through the minors and Baltimore's first winning season since way back in 1997 is definitely near.

Padres (17-22)

Overachieving - Nick Hundley has been excellent in his first season as the Padres' full-time catcher, hitting .268/.360/.454 in 26 games. His power and plate discipline are for real, but Hundley is highly unlikely to maintain a batting average even as modest as .268. He hit .247 at Double-A and .232 at Triple-A.

Underachieving - Where to begin? Just about everyone in the lineup has been awful, Petco Park or not. Chase Headley, Kevin Kouzmanoff, and Jody Gerut each have a sub-.700 OPS and sub-.400 slugging percentage, but Brian Giles still sticks out with his brutal .168/.256/.245 line. The good news is that he's still drawing walks and controlling the strike zone, and a .177 batting average on balls in play is unsustainably terrible. The bad news is that he's 38 years old.

Achieving - Adrian Gonzalez is leading the league in homers while playing in the most extreme pitcher's ballpark in baseball. He's unlikely to finish the season with an OPS above 1.000, but Gonzalez hit .304/.367/.560 away from Petco Park during the previous three seasons and so far at least has miraculously been better at home this year. Heath Bell has converted all 10 save chances stepping in for Trevor Hoffman, but we expected that.

Question marks - Jake Peavy is just 3-5 with a 3.82 ERA, but trade speculation is sure to increase with the Padres already trailing by double-digit games in the NL West. Can general manager Kevin Towers get a king's ransom for Peavy if his ERA is bordering on 4.00? And will Peavy accept the trade even if he does?

On the horizon - Massive first-base prospect Kyle Blanks has begun playing left field in the minors because of Gonzalez's presence in San Diego. Blanks' recent slump at Triple-A perhaps pushes back his call-up timetable, but once he arrives Giles will seemingly be out of a job unless the Padres want to clear a lineup spot by dealing Kouzmanoff and moving Headley back to third base.

Outlook - Expectations were exceptionally low for the Padres coming into the season, so at 17-22 they've actually been sort of a pleasant surprise. They have no chance to contend in the NL West and even making a run at .500 is probably wishful thinking, but the second half may still prove interesting if Towers starts selling off veterans.