Baltimore Orioles: Season Ending Reflections and Perspective


Oct 15, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Zach Britton throws a pitch against the Kansas City Royals during the 8th inning in game four of the 2014 ALCS playoff baseball game at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

All of my colleagues in the Baltimore Orioles sports writing business have been seeking to pen their thoughts and put the O’s season into some perspective. It is sad and disappointing to see them get swept in the ALCS after having had such a fine season.

Most writers have some combination of expressing the sadness, while also balancing it out with perspectives that include looking at the entire body of work of this 2014 squad that won 99 baseball games. Not many fans around the country and MLB saw their team do this.

It is a fair perspective as well to reflect upon the losses of the three Gold Gove All-Stars in Manny Machado, Matt Wieters, and Chris Davis. Often this is presented with a scenario and question such as: Imagine if at the beginning of the season you were told that the Orioles would be missing these three players for a combined total of 251 games, and imagine if you were offered the opportunity to have the O’s win 96 games and the ALDS … would you have taken it? The answer would be “YES!”

We don’t just want to be Baltimore Orioles baseball fans that say, “So what have you done for me lately?”  Not when a fair answer to that is “After 14 years without October baseball, the O’s made the playoffs two out of three years and won as many games over that stretch as any other team.”

Back at the end of August I wrote an article about what it would take for the Orioles or any other team to win it all. It seemed to hit a nerve at the time, as it was picked up and reprinted in other media outlets.

Without repeating it all, the basic content was to say that the Orioles needed to come into the postseason with a strong, winning finish, and that the Orioles also needed to have a strong corps of their players performing above their career averages, or even definitively above such.

The Orioles did indeed accomplish the first of these goals sufficiently well enough to be similar to the previous four World Series champions. Here is a chart of the Orioles’ final 20 and final 30 games of the season as compared to the last four winners …

TEAMFinal 20 GamesFinal 30 Games
2014 Orioles13-720-10
2013 Red Sox12-820-10
2012 Giants14-620-10
2011 Cardinals15-521-9
2010 Giants12-820-10

If the Kansas City Royals are somehow able to win it all, they will break this mold completely. They were 10-10 and 15-15 respectively. However, just before this time and as noted in my article, at the end of August they were the hottest team in baseball. And they did win six of their final eight games to qualify for the playoffs.

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Regarding the other major factor of players performing above their historic averages, in the Kansas City series this was certainly not true for the Orioles. In fact, most of the Orioles players performed below their averages – much to the credit of the Royals’ pitching.

And at the same time, Kansas City had a number of players putting up numbers beyond their averages and playing at an extraordinary level, particularly on defense.

Over the year, the Baltimore Orioles sustained a high percentage won-loss record for such a long time – over most of the final two-thirds of the season. That is a long time to maintain such an edge with starting pitching and timely hitting. And when running into a team that was playing just a bit better … well … the tank was empty and there was no one remaining to carry the team.

But the Baltimore Orioles are established now as among the better teams in the game. Just after the midway point of the season, one of the primary national baseball writers dubbed the Orioles as a “pretender” for the playoffs and not a “contender.” He wrote:

"I have been predicting that this team would fall off for weeks now, and it definitely looks like they are starting to cave under the pressure of that division. I think that two teams from the AL East will make the playoffs, but the O’s are not one of them."

And he gets paid to write about baseball!