As a contributor to Camden Chat amidst an off-season of doom and gloom predictions surrounding the Orioles, I did everything possible to remain positive.
General manager Dan Duquette said the O’s weren’t “re-building” they were “re-loading.” Free agent signings happened, trading expiring contracts was delayed and veterans were brought back for one more run at the American League East crown. Young, fresh-faced players appeared ready to impact the big club. Bounceback seasons from formerly reliable stars were bound to happen in 2018.
And on and on and on. It all seemed logical. And if not probable, positive results certainly were more than possible.
Well, fast forward 21 days. I wouldn’t throw in the towel just yet on April 19 – three weeks to the day from an exciting Opening Day walk off win at Camden Yards – but there are certainly reasons to think that the Orioles’ season could go down the drain fast.
Lost behind memories of their 4-19 record following a win on September 5, 2017, to end last season, is the fact that after the game on that Tuesday post-Labor Day, the Birds were 71-68 and in the Wild Card race. We should hope to be so lucky in 2018.
Remembering that the MLB season is 162 games long means there is hope. And we should also remember the fact that the Orioles have only played 11.1% of the games on their schedule, there are still 11 full days left in the month of April and in more than five full months, baseball will still be playing regular season games.
Keeping all these caveats in mind, below are some numbers indicating why it’s time for O’s fans to start preparing for the worst.
After 18 games, it’s the Orioles’ record. 5-13, good for a .278 winning percentage. Channeling my inner Charles Barkley, that is absolutely terrible.
Digging deeper, Baltimore is 4-9 against 2017 playoff teams (Minnesota, Houston, New York, Boston) and 1-4 against 2017 non-playoff teams (Toronto, Detroit). Basically, they’ve been bad against everyone.
The only AL teams with fewer wins are the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox. Both the Royals and Chisox are in the middle of re-builds, not stocked with veterans, making all of this even more troubling.
Already 10.5 games back of the division lead after only three weeks of play? Mercy. Five losses in a row – including two to the Detroit Tigers, who are even in more of a re-build mode than Kansas City and Chicago, and a smoking hot start by the Red Sox (15-2) – doesn’t help, but that is a lot of games behind in a very short amount of time.
58 is the number of runs the O’s have scored in 18 games. That’s an average of 3.1 runs per game. 96 is the number of runs the O’s have given up in 18 games. That’s an average of 5.3 runs per game. Getting outscored by an average of 2.2 runs a game is a big problem. Kansas City (3-13) at -39 and the Cincinnati Reds (3-15) at -46 are the only teams worse in run differential than Baltimore’s -38. Ugh.
The Orioles’ team average is .215 and they rank 14th in AL hitting. 15 players have gone to the plate over the first 18 games. Two are batting above .307, six between .227 and .292, and seven are between .000 and .186.
That’s the number of strikeouts from the Orioles, which leads the AL. So far, 28.7% of Birds at bats end with strikeouts. By contrast, the Boston Red Sox have 115 K’s, good for 16.9% of their outs. Quite a telling spread.
2-9 / 4.75
Their team ERA is 4.75, good for 13th out of 15. Despite some quality starts, Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, Andrew Cashner and Alex Cobb have two wins and six losses. Chris Tillman is 0-3 with an ERA of 11.91 in 11.1 innings pitched over three starts. That’s an overall record of 2-9 from their top four starters. Ten of the 16 pitchers that have appeared in games have ERAs at 4.70 or higher, including nine of them over 5.39. The beat goes on.
The winning percentage my colleague Mark Brown points out the O’s must play to during the rest of 2018 to reach 89 wins, which would put them in the Wild Card hunt. Is that possible? It certainly isn’t the way they’ve been playing. But…
MLB is the one sport where there is always another game around the corner. It is the grind of grinds. Trying to stay positive, after today’s 1:10 tilt in Detroit, the Orioles return to Camden Yards for 10 games in a row. There is still time for a good home stand to end April on an up note and provide hope for the season.
Following Wednesday’s frustrating loss in Detroit, manager Buck Showalter said, “You’ve got to stay the tide. When things are going real well, you can’t seem to do anything wrong. Those days are ahead. Those things can happen, but you can’t just wait for them to happen. This is a tough level of play, and you’ve got to be clicking on a lot of different areas in order to put together a good string of wins.”
Those days can’t get here fast enough. Hopefully they start this afternoon in Motown.