Baltimore Orioles have played most difficult schedule in MLB so far

Jun 6, 2017; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman (39) walks off the field after being removed from the game in the seventh inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 6, 2017; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman (39) walks off the field after being removed from the game in the seventh inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports /

The Baltimore Orioles baseball team has played the toughest schedule in MLB according to ESPN, TeamRankings, Baseball-Reference, and other MLB data site.

The month of May for the Baltimore Orioles can best be characterized as the tale of two halves.

May commenced with the Orioles not only atop the American League but also the AL East standings at 16-8. The wins continued to pile up in the first two weeks of May as the Orioles enjoyed six straight wins from May 4 through May 9, their longest winning streak of the 2017 season.

However, once the Orioles departed the award-winning Oriole Park at Camden Yards to endure a daunting seven-game road trip. The Orioles were first swept by the Kansas City Royals, losing each game by just a run. After winning just a game against the Detriot Tigers at Comerica Park, the Orioles returned home to grab two-of-three from the Toronto Blue Jays.

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Once the Minnesota Twins came to OPACY, the Orioles winning ways crumbled. May ended with the Orioles losing eight-of-nine games including a seven-game losing streak. As a result, the Orioles went from being 12 games over .500 (22-10) on May 9 to just two games above average on May 30 (26-24), good enough for third place in the AL East.

What’s the cause for the recent string of losses? Let’s take a dive into some strength of schedule data.

How tough is the Baltimore Orioles schedule?

According to 2017 MLB Relative Power Index (RPI) by ESPN, the Orioles have played the most difficult schedule so far this season with an opponent win percentage of .535. Other notable MLB teams that rank in the top five for strength of schedule (SOS) includes AL East division rivals Tampa Bay Rays (No. 2) and New York Yankees (No. 4).

ESPN’s data isn’t the only credible data source to show the same results for the Orioles. Calculations from other sites such as Baseball-Reference and TeamRankings also have the Orioles with the toughest strength of schedule as of June 6.’s MLB Strength of Schedule Rankings & Ratings computes the Orioles atop the SOS rankings with a 0.29 rating.  Like ESPN’s RPI ranking, the Rays sit right behind the Orioles with a rating of 0.22. To simply put it, the AL East seems to be the most dominant division in baseball. Lastly, TeamRankings’ postseason seeding projections have the Orioles with a 29.9 percent chance of clinching a playoff spot along with a mere 6.6 percent chance of an AL East division title.

Back to the difficulty of the O’s schedule,‘s SOS calculation spits out vastly different results than ESPN and TeamRankings. Despite different methods of calculations, Baseball-Reference puts the Orioles above the rest of MLB for strength of schedule once again.’s SOS calculations explained:

"The number of runs per game their opponents are better (or worse) than the average team.Average ML team for years with inter-league play and just their league for other years."

Therefore, Baseball-Reference’s formula gives the Orioles an SOS rating of 0.5 followed by the Rays (0.3) in second, Yankees (0.2) with the fourth toughest schedule and Red Sox (0.2) rounding up the top five toughest schedules in baseball. Furthermore, all five AL East teams place in the top 10, revealing the uphill battle the Orioles are faced with in 2017.

Current playoff chances for Orioles

First, we begin with the latest 2017 MLB predictions from Nate Silver’s The site’s continually updated predictions and lift the O’s chances of making the playoffs from 27 percent to 30 percent after Tuesday night’s extra-inning victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Despite being only 2.5 games back from first place in the AL East, FiveThirtyEight gives the O’s just a 10 percent chance.

Entering Wednesday’s play, projects the Orioles to finish the 2017 season right around the .500 mark with expected win total of 81.5 and estimates 80.5 losses for the Orioles.

One intriguing projection by FanGraphs is their rest of the season win percentage (rosW%). So, when looking at the rest of the season win percentage for all five of the AL East teams, FanGraphs predicts the Orioles to win just 48.6 percent of their remaining games. The rest of the AL East is projected to produce a winning record the rest of the season.

Lastly, FanGraphs 2017 AL East playoff odds calculates each team’s probability of postseason berth.

The chart below reveals the latest playoff odds, along with odds of an AL East title via FanGraphs:

Next: Orioles add veteran pitcher ahead of series finale vs. Pirates

The Orioles road ahead doesn’t get any easier as they embark on a 33-game journey in the next 34 days leading up to the MLB All-Star break. After Wednesday’s series finale against the Pirates, the Orioles travel approximately 40 miles south to play a makeup game against the Washington Nationals, a team that has enjoyed the easiest schedule in MLB.