The Orioles, as you have probably noticed by now, are not a very good baseball team. They commit new crimes against decent baseball almost on a daily basis. Poor hitting, clown-worthy defense, and often overmatched pitching have combined to doom them in 84 losses to date. More losses will be coming over the 43 games they have left to play.
Amazingly, the Orioles are not running away with the title for worst team in baseball this year. There is another that could be even worse in the Kansas City Royals, who also entered the season with pretensions that they were contenders and like the O’s have flamed out rather spectacularly.
The Royals entered Monday’s play having scored fewer runs than the Orioles by a margin of 39, and Kansas City has a 5.35 ERA as a team, significantly worse than the also-awful 5.03 that the Orioles have. The Royals managed to win on Monday and with that win are 1.5 games clear of the Orioles for the worst record in MLB. It seems that these two teams are in a dogfight for the bottom of the league. There has been a bit of back and forth over the last month.
Kansas City’s failure is in some ways even more impressive, since they play in the American League’s current weakest division, the Central, with only the division leading Indians above .500. Even playing so many games against the Twins, Tigers, and White Sox, rather than the Yankees and Red Sox, they are horrid.
As an Orioles fan who has had to watch the brand of baseball that they have fielded this year, the fact that some other team might out-suck them and snatch the #1 pick in the draft from their hands next season occasionally makes me indignant.
It’s not that I want the Orioles to lose any given game. I tune in every night telling myself stupidly, “Maybe tonight is the night the Orioles will throw a no-hitter.” I want the best for them at all times. I just know that this year especially, it’s not very likely to happen.
So if they’re going to stink this much, and if I have to watch them stink this much, then by golly, they might as well just be the worst of the worst, right? I don’t want the O’s to lose on purpose. They’ve done so well losing while trying to win, they can just stick with that.
After all, the O’s are already quite likely to be the worst Orioles team in history, surpassing every one of the 1998-2011 dark years by far and even heading for a worse record than the 1988 squad that began its season by going 0-21. In the aftermath of all of the July trades, the collection of talent that remains is not very likely to be able to do a whole lot to change this.
The Orioles could go .500 for the rest of the season and still lose 105 games, for crying out loud. That would beat the 1988 Orioles, but only barely. And I think we all know better than to expect this team, which has yet to reach double digit wins in any calendar month this year, to be able to play .500 baseball for the next six or seven weeks.
Not that the #1 pick in any year’s draft is guaranteed to be the savior of a franchise. Even if a team picks a very good player, that alone doesn’t propel them to respectability and contention within three years. Sometimes everyone agrees that a #1 pick is going to be good and he busts. Other times, a team might psyche itself into a selection outside of conventional wisdom and not be rewarded for that.
Then there are the years where Carlos Correa is sitting there at the top of the draft. The Astros were better off with him than the Twins were with Byron Buxton at #2 in 2012. A year earlier, the Mariners, picking at #2, would have surely rather had #1 pick Gerrit Cole than their own pick, Danny Hultzen. Rewind one more and the Pirates ought to have preferred the chance to pick Bryce Harper over Jameson Taillon - though if you go by career WAR, both should have taken Manny Machado, who went to the Orioles at #3.
The best case scenario for the Orioles between now and the end of the year is that they can start to play in such a way that we might be able to convince ourselves that next year will be a little better.
That might happen if Cedric Mullins hits respectably and runs down balls in center field that Adam Jones no longer could. It might happen if Dylan Bundy stops giving up so many home runs, if Trey Mancini can get out of left field and start hitting better, or if one or more of the struggling relievers like Mychal Givens and Tanner Scott start pitching better. These guys will be around next year, and if they play better, the team will be better than this. Not good, of course, but probably (hopefully) not 100+ loss-level bad.
If the season ends and the Orioles have 53 wins and the Royals have 49 wins and several of the above things happen, that doesn’t sound bad. It just doesn’t seem very likely right now.
The O’s refusal to really grapple with their Chris Davis problem is a big reason, though not the only one. They have no MLB-caliber starting pitching depth in the high minors and are left relying on Yefry Ramirez and David Hess. Defense on the left side of the infield is almost nonexistent, exemplified perfectly by the photo above where Tim Beckham and Renato Nunez ran into one another trying to catch a routine pop-up.
If we have to watch doofuses blunder around the infield running into one another and Davis racking up sombrero after sombrero while failing at the basics of baserunning on those rare occasions he makes it on base, then dang it, don’t we all deserve that failure to reach a level that helps the franchise have the best chance to achieve some later, greater good and not have the freaking Royals zoom in and luck their way into “beating” the O’s again?
I’ll be rooting for the Orioles to win every night for the rest of the year, but as long as they’re going to lose this much, they might as well just go ahead and be the worst.
What do you think? Vote in the poll and let us know how you look at it in the comments below.
Do you want the Orioles to end up with the #1 pick in next June’s draft?
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