Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Impressive Orioles

As many of you knew, I was out of town for the beginning of this month travelling in China.  I had a great time, but I also missed some phenomenal Oriole baseball and my favorite thing in the baseball world - position players pitching.

Best. Thing. Ever.
Along those lines, I was reading Buster Olney's blog from today and saw a unique anecdote - the Orioles have made 22 roster changes since that game.  On May 6th the Orioles played the Boston Red Sox in a 17 inning contest where Chris Davis emerged with the victory throwing 2 phenomenal innings in relief.  Since then, the Orioles 25 man roster has been a revolving door with players moving up and down, hitting the DL and generally moving about the organization.

Olney also points out that the Texas Rangers have yet to make a roster move this season, riding a healthy roster to a AL-leading 23 wins.

The most impressive thing to me about the Orioles season thus far, is that they've gotten so far despite having to overcome countless hurdles.  Just in case you weren't keeping track, let's talk about a few of the hurdles they've jumped over:

The Orioles are 8th worst in BB%, 8th worst in K%, and currently have 7 guys on the DL.  Tsuyoshi Wada had Tommy John Surgery 4 days again and is out for the season, Taylor Teagarden was moved to the 60-Day DL 5 days ago and Brian Roberts may or may not be back in the next calendar year, oh and we lead the AL in errors.

Honestly, the most impressive thing to me is that the Orioles have won 22 games in spite of all these difficulties.  Zach Britton, considered one of the O's best pitchers coming into the season has yet to throw a pitch for the big league team.  Brian Roberts, our highly paid star second baseman hasn't played significant time since the Bush administration but the revolving door of utility guys (Betemit, Andino, Tolleson, Flaherty) who have replaced him have been a spark plug for the team.  The Orioles atrocious defense has lead to 23 unearned runs scoring, and yet the team hasn't been hurt by its pitching.

The team is 11-9 at OPACY, and 11-5 on the road this season.  They are 12-7 against the AL East and an impressive 6-1 against the AL Central.  The only division the team has struggled against is the West with the powerhouses in Anaheim and Texas resulting in the O's 4-6 record against the West division.  They are 5-3 in 1-run games, and 4-2 in games that go to extra innings.

Are the Orioles this good?  Well no.  At this pace they'd win 99 games and likely make the playoffs fairly easily (given the extra wild card and what not).  However, the fact that they're winning despite all these difficulties is impressive and bods well for the future.

I was more bullish on the O's and guys like Wei-Yin Chen this offseason, putting the over/under at 74 wins for the team.  I think they'll make that number, and have a decent chance at breaking .500 for the first time in - way too long.  So far it looks like they have a legitimate shot to fulfill that promise I saw early on.  I'm excited because if they can fix some of these flaws, then they have a very good chance to continue this success throughout the season as guys get healthy and start to come back form the DL.

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