O’s Good Season Ends Poorly

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The Baltimore Orioles were defeated by the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Wild Card game during the first round of the postseason in 2016. The Orioles are looking to build on a season that had many problems, from starting pitching woes to cold streaks at the plate.

The Orioles were the best power hitting team in MLB this year, hitting 253 home runs, 66 more than the average team. What fans may not realize is the ineffectiveness of the long ball when a team cannot put runners on base. The Orioles hit 152 one-run, or solo, home runs this year. That’s 60% of the home runs that the Orioles hit. The Orioles had 6 players hit 20 or more home runs. Mark Trumbo hit 47, Chris Davis hit 38, Manny Machado hit 37, Adam Jones hit 29, Jonathan Schoop hit 25, and Pedro Alvarez hit 22. Trumbo led the league in that category. While the Orioles had enough power in their lineup to be nicknamed the “Birdland Power Co.”, the amount of solo home runs weren’t enough to propel them to wins. They only hit 75 two-run home runs, a 30% cut of their total. The well known Earl Weaver quote about the three-run homer didn’t apply to the Orioles this season, as they only hit 8% of their home runs with two runners on base. While a home run can shift the momentum in a game, it cannot always make up for poor starting pitching.

The Orioles have an inconsistent group of starting pitchers that never seem to be able to get it together when they need to. While the Orioles did place just under the league average of runs allowed/game (4.41, average was 4.48), if they want to make any deep runs into the postseason they will need to place in the top 10 in these pitching categories. They ranked just above the league average in ERA (earned runs average) with a 4.22 ERA compared to the league average of 4.18. They allowed the same amount of home runs and hits per game as the league average (8.8 and 1.2, respectively), but as I mentioned before, the Orioles need to be above average to bring a World Series title back to Baltimore.

The bullpen, on the other hand, was simply outstanding this season. Zach Britton proved that he is the best closer in the game with 54 saves, which led the league. Darren O’Day had an off year, but he was still able to contribute to the bullpen. Dylan Bundy began the season in the bullpen, and pitched well while he was there. Michael Givens is maturing and becoming a great option for middle inning work. Brad Brach had an All Star season, as he was able to dominate batters during the middle months of the season before falling back to his usual performance. The bullpen continues to be one of the best in the majors, but none of that matters if the Orioles give up runs in the first couple of innings.

In conclusion, the Orioles need better starting pitching. They need to be above average so that the team can stay afloat during cold streaks at the plate. If the Orioles get a few more players that can consistently get on base, those solo home runs could turn into three-run home runs. The Orioles have a few players to resign, as Matt Wieters, Mark Trumbo and a few more contracts are over after this year. This offseason could be a big one for the Orioles, if they sign an ace caliber pitcher to hold down the rotation and to mentor young pitchers like Bundy and Gausman.

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