Baltimore Orioles: 87 Wins Will Work!


Sep 18, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter (26) looks on in the dugout during the fifth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After a 2014 season of 96 wins for the Baltimore Orioles, there was every reason to think that even a bit of a drop-off in production would still yield a team that could make the playoffs in 2015. And all along we were saying that probably 87 wins would be enough to make that happen.

So, just do it, right?

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The Orioles can do that … if they win their final 15 games, yes.

In another part of my life I have been involved in the past in the writing of historical biography, particularly of the Civil War era. There is the challenge when doing so of not becoming overly enamored with your subject and losing objectivity about their faults and shortcomings. And no sportswriter wants to be similarly non-objective.

Truthfully, this 2015 season is the first that I have picked the Orioles to win the American League East. But I did, though in a closer race with fewer wins and the Jays finishing second. I picked the O’s to have 92 wins in 2014; and we know that they totaled 96. However, I did have them losing to the Rays by three games; and of course, the Rays had tons of injuries and fell apart. The Orioles did a little worse than what I thought in 2013, and just a bit better than my prediction in 2012. I did however think that they would do very well in that breakout year, but did not expect they’d actually make the playoffs.

All to say that, right now, I’m feeling a bit stupid for selecting the Orioles to repeat in the A.L. East and have a strong season this year. My reasoning was that, even with the loss of two outfielders, the Orioles were returning the entire rotation that carried them to 96 wins, not even including a $12.5-million guy who had a bad year historically. The only relief loss was a player who was only available for the final one-third of the season. And three All-Stars – Chris Davis, Manny Machado and Matt Wieters – who combined to miss a total of 251 games were returning to the regular lineup. 

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But, looking back to an article on February 1st, I was talking about how two publications—Baseball Prospectus and FanGraphs—were each predicting the Orioles to finish last with on 78 wins. I hate to admit that they are going to be closer to the eventual truth than I was predicting at the time. But before we see them as baseball gurus, let me add that each were also selecting the Red Sox to win with the Yankees finishing fourth, just ahead of the O’s.

It is stuff like this that gives rise to the old adage, “This is why they play the games.”

All I can say to the Orioles right now is, “Please, just don’t finish last.”

Next: Six things to maintains Orioles interest to the end of season