On Opening Day, March 29, 105 days ago, no one would have believed the Orioles would stand on July 12 with a record of 26-67 (.280). What would the odds have been? Without a doubt, very low. Then again, truth is unquestionably stranger than fiction, so we shouldn’t be too surprised.
NFL Hall of Famer Bill Parcells once said, “You are what your record says you are.” Applying that sound logic to the 2018 Orioles, this season record-wise is an unmitigated disaster. Everyone fan of the black and orange knows that. The year is on path to easily be their worst since arriving in Baltimore in 1954, and possibly the worst for a Major League Baseball team in modern history. Gulp.
Over the last few months, the tone on Camden Chat – and in the Baltimore Sun, MASN Sports, MLB.com and every other outlet that covers the team daily – has gone from hope that one more run with the Machado, Jones, Britton group would result in a fourth post-season appearance in seven years, to excitement surrounding an Opening Day walkoff win, to cautious optimism that the slow start could be turned around, to acceptance that the season was going to be bad, to where things stand today – unabashed amazement at the depth of ineptitude displayed nightly at the ballpark.
There was another blowout loss last night from the hands of the New York Yankees. Oy vey.
Currently, press coverage is heavy on Manny Machado – with a bit of speculation thrown in on Zach Britton and Adam Jones – but the elephant in the room is still there. Are the 2018 Orioles as bad as their record? The answer appears to be yes.
To provide additional perspective on the season, let’s look at what was once thought unfathomable or simply impossible for a team to accomplish. Some of the statistics and records that have gained press attention in recent weeks take your breath away.
Here, all in one place, are the most eye-popping – I can’t believe it’s true, but it is! – numbers of the 2018 Baltimore Orioles.
Instead of one big losing streak – such as the 0-21 run to start the 1988 season – the 2018 Birds have died from a million little cuts. They have had losing streaks of five (March 31 to April 4), six (April 13 to April 19), five again (April 21 to April 26), seven (May 1 to May 8), seven again (May 26 to June 2), nine (June 7 to June 16), seven for a third time (June 24 to June 30) and six again (July 3 to July 8).
One thing about this club, they know how to keep losing, while throwing in the occasional win to not get too much attention. They’ve also had three winless road trips (one each in April, May and July) and five home stands – yes, five series at OPACY – where they notched only one win. And don’t forget, this is all before we’ve reached the All-Star Break. There are still 64 scheduled games after the Mid-Summer Classic at Nationals Park in Washington, DC.
AL West woes
The futility is perhaps no more evident than against the American League West. The Orioles are 0-3 against Houston, 1-5 against Los Angeles, 0-3 vs. Oakland and 0-4 playing Seattle. They don’t have a losing record against Texas – it is 0-0 – because they haven’t played yet.
That adds up to a 1-15 record against the AL West and a run differential of minus 38 (51 runs scored, 89 against). The lone win of the 16 games didn’t come until Sunday, July 1, against the Angels. Prior to that breakthrough, they were 0-15 against the division. Wow.
Starting this weekend with a series against the Rangers at Camden Yards, the Orioles have 17 games remaining against the AL West. At least finishing the season series against that division with a winning record is still mathematically possible. The Birds just need to go 16-1 to make that happen and finish 17-16 overall.
Consistency is one word that applies to the 2018 Orioles, just not in the way the team would like. Monthly win totals have been steady – March, 1; April, 7; May, 9; June, 6; and July, 3. Never winning 10 games in a month? That’s consistent.
Four games, from May 9 to May 12, is the team’s longest winning streak. Never winning more than four games in a row? That’s consistent.
Being basically the worst in pitching, hitting and defense? That’s consistent.
They’ve also been shut out nine times and only spent one day in first place. That’s consistent too. But, not in the Oriole Way. Sigh.
Mother’s Day to Father’s Day
This is certainly the most colorful and wild thing that has happened in 2018. Mother’s Day was May 13. Father’s Day was June 17. The Birds won on Sunday, May 13, against Tampa Bay, 17-1. Then over a span of five weeks, 35 full days, they proceeded to lose 11 games in a row at home until winning again on Sunday, June 17, against Miami, 10-4.
A Major League Baseball team went over a month without a home win? That’s hard to believe.
Baltimore won their 26thgame last year on May 29, 2017. The 26thwin this year came on July 10, 2018. Quite a difference.
In 2018, they are 1-9 against Boston, 1-6 against Minnesota, 1-6 against Toronto and 1-5 vs. Washington. Eighteen times – 19% of their total games played – Baltimore has lost by five or more runs. That’s what happens when you stink at every facet of the game.
All of this has happened and still everyone in authority is employed at the warehouse and in the OPACY first base dugout. That’s strange. Patience can pay off in sports and maybe it will in this case as well. Time will tell.
From 2012 through 2016, over the five-year period, the Orioles were the winningest team in the American League. A lot of people forget that. Baltimore isn’t exactly a Cleveland Browns situation where they have had two winning seasons, and only one playoff appearance, in the last 19 years.
But, I never thought I’d see the day when a Buck Showalter-managed team was this bad. While 2018 will be horrible in the standings, it will be extremely pivotal for the future of the franchise because of the players acquired in trades and the TBD contractual future of Showalter and Dan Duquette. Those are story lines for another day.
Today, the focus is on these numbers and they’ll stick in Birds fans heads for years to come. There is no doubt about that. It’s (hopefully), once in a lifetime.