The Baltimore Orioles and their revamped roster have offered signs of life over the last several games as a lost season moves toward a conclusion.
Sure, the Baltimore Orioles have struggled in August, going 8-19 and getting swept in four-game series against the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.
But, there have also been some positive signs.
The Orioles have won three straight, their first series sweep all season long. The team has also scored 7, 12 and 10 runs in those three games.
In August, the team is batting .260/.313/.417, significantly better than their season average of .239/.300/.397. The team also has 19 stolen bases in August, by far the most in a month this year. And, they have only been caught four times.
The Orioles have had the most runs, hits and tied for the most home runs in August, showing the offense has been better. Some of this good news is team-related. Some also deals with individual players.
Trey Mancini had a first half to forget, hitting .216/.292/.383 with 91 strikeouts. In the second half so far, Mancini is hitting .301/.333/.534. In just over one-third of the amount of games from the first half, Mancini is close to equaling his RBI total from the first half, and his doubles and home runs should both be equal to or greater.
Mancini has seven home runs in August and 19 RBIs, along with 16 runs and 32 hits. All are season highs.
After the first half, it was fair to wonder whether Mancini would be a full-time starter. Now, it is clear that he will be, and although his defensive position is a question mark, his place on the team isn’t. Jonathan Villar has also been an important piece, as we have discussed here and here.
His speed is something that cannot be taught, and it has made a difference for the team and has opened up the base paths.
Cedric Mullins is another who has made an impact in August, with a .305/.379/.492 slash line and some power as well. Mullins’ speed has also helped the Orioles defensively, despite what the metrics may say in a small sample size.
Positive signs have also been exhibited by Baltimore’s punching bag, Chris Davis. Look, the 2018 season is always going to be an unmitigated disaster for Davis. But, he is hitting .231/.273/.363 in the month. Yes, those numbers are still bad for a power hitter. However, he has his most hits this month and his most RBIs. Of course, conversely, he also has struck out 41 times in August, more than any other month.
The successes are not limited to just the offense. While the bullpen is a lot of experimenting and trying guys out in spots, their are some bright spots from the starters.
Alex Cobb has had a strong second half, and ideally a full off-season and Spring Training will help him carry that into the 2019 season.
David Hess has been better down the stretch, with a 4.54 ERA in 28 innings covering five starts in August, with a WHIP of near 1.14. That is significantly better than June, when he made five starts over 23.2 innings and had an 8.37 ERA.
Yes, there is still a myriad of issues. The bullpen’s inconsistency has hurt, and the defense has struggled at times, although better recently. Dylan Bundy is a massive concern, as he struggles his way to the end of 2018.
As the team moves forward, many of the players on the roster now could be in another uniform next year, whether in the minors or with another team.
The Orioles current outfielders on the 25-man roster are John Andreoli, Craig Gentry, Adam Jones, Trey Mancini and Cedric Mullins. Jones and Gentry likely won’t be Orioles in 2019. The Orioles have seen some things they like in Andreoli in his few games in Baltimore. Mancini and Mullins will both be in Baltimore.
Despite the dark depth of the Orioles’ fall from grace in 2018, there is still a lot of intrigue as September plays out, and the team moves on to the 2019 season.
It will start with who is called up as the rosters expand, and how they perform under the bright lights.
On the field, will the Orioles finish with the worst record, guaranteeing themselves the first overall pick?
In addition, there is the expiring contracts of Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette. A lot of intrigue, indeed.