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Thursday Bird Droppings: The Orioles preseason playoff chance is at last above 0%

The ZiPS projection gives the Orioles an 80-82 record, with a 28.7% chance of making the postseason

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Toronto Blue Jays v Baltimore Orioles
The ZiPS projection system is a big fan of Dean Kremer for 2023.
Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Hello, friends.

There are now 49 days remaining until Orioles Opening Day. That’s seven weeks from today! This uniform number was in use by DL Hall in the 2022 season, although he’s changing to 24 for this year. Past luminaries to wear the number include Hayden Penn, memorable to me as the first Oriole to be younger than me, and Jason Berken. Pitchers and catchers report to Sarasota in one week, with WBC-participating guys showing up a few days before that.

With the rapid approach of spring training season comes another season: Standings projection season. A decade ago, this was a regular ritual wherein Orioles fans could all chuckle at the silly simulations and their inability to recognize a quality O’s team. More recently, it’s been a depressing exercise with the Orioles typically projected to have one of the worst records in baseball while still knowing they’re going to do even worse than the projections say.

Enter the ZiPS projected records by FanGraphs’s Dan Szymborski, the Baltimore-raised analyst. FG unveiled its standings for the American League yesterday. The Orioles come in at a projected 80-82 record, 16 more than the 64 wins they were projected for last season. As we know, the O’s beat that projection by 19 wins, more than any other team did last year. The simulation has noticed the significant improvement in the franchise’s fortunes, even if it’s not convinced the most likely scenario is to carry that even farther in 2023.

It is a big contrast compared to what was set out by ZiPS prior to last season, where the Orioles were the only American League team believed to have a 0.0% chance of making the playoffs, and a one-in-three chance of having the worst record in all of MLB. It didn’t work out that way! ZiPS puts the 2023 Orioles at 28.7% to make the playoffs heading towards the season.

That feels like it’s in the right neighborhood to me. The Orioles are going to probably need some things to go right this year to improve on what happened last year, especially with the starting rotation. That’s reflected in the ZiPS projections for specific players, which are not terribly excited about any starting pitcher other than Dean Kremer and a little bit Grayson Rodriguez. Newly-acquired Cole Irvin is projected at a 4.78 as he slides out of Oakland and into Baltimore. It doesn’t believe very much in anything close to a repeat performance from any reliever other than Félix Bautista, either.

ZiPS is, on the other hand, pretty high on the Orioles position player group, with 5+ WAR projections for Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson, 4.1 for Cedric Mullins, and 3.0 for Anthony Santander. Additionally, all of Ramón Urías, Ryan Mountcastle, and Adam Frazier are projected for between 2.5 and 3 WAR. Add in Jorge Mateo’s 2.4 and Austin Hays’s 2.3 and that’s a nice set of projections.

Probably not all of those players will live up to those, so the Orioles will have to find some value to replace whoever gets hurt or falls off the pace. That’s going to be the challenge: Have the hitters and relievers mostly keep up with last year while the starting rotation improves. If all three of these things don’t happen, exceeding the 83 wins will be a tall order. It is, at least, a plausible path to contention, which is more than they have had going into any of the last five seasons.

Around the blogO’sphere

Hays aims to stay healthy and keep hitting throughout the entire season (School of Roch)
Austin Hays got the “stay healthy” part down well enough last year, playing in 145 games, but with a post-All Star break OPS of .626, he sure didn’t keep hitting all year. Whether there is much that he can do about this is something we will see over the course of this season.

Hall, Rodriguez hope for strong Orioles rookie seasons (Baltimore Baseball)
You can also count me among the group hoping for strong Orioles rookie seasons from DL Hall and Grayson Rodriguez.

Five thoughts on Keith Law’s Orioles top prospects list (The Athletic)
Dan Connolly reacts to his colleague’s recent top Orioles prospect list. The increased presence of international signees in the top 20 is a good trend.

Position preview: With few new names, Orioles bullpen hopes to continue 2022 success (The Baltimore Sun)
By the end of last year, the Orioles seemed to have a large portion of a bullpen stabilized. Can they do it again? And if individuals don’t, will the Orioles move on from them swiftly? Does depth exist to replace anyone?

Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries

One current Oriole has a birthday today: Happy 28th to Baltimore’s own Bruce Zimmermann. Several former Orioles also were born on this day. They are: 2005 four-gamer Napoleon Calzado, 2011 designated hitter and now Baseball Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, 1999 pitcher Doug Linton, 1955-56 pitcher Erv Palica, and 1954 outfielder Vic Wertz.

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: revolutionary pamphleteer Thomas Paine (1737), 9th president William Henry Harrison (1773), actress Carmen Miranda (1909), Nobel Prize-winning author J. M. Coetzee (1940), The Wire creator David Simon (1960), actor Tom Hiddleston (1981), and actor Michael B. Jordan (1987).

On this day in history...

In 1775, the colony of Massachusetts was declared in rebellion by the British Parliament. Active conflict in what became our War of Independence broke out a couple of months later.

In 1825, due to no candidate receiving a majority of electoral votes, the House of Representatives chose John Quincy Adams as the sixth president of the United States. Adams, the son of second president John Adams, had 84 electoral votes to future president Andrew Jackson’s 99 after the prior November’s election, with two other candidates keeping Jackson from an electoral majority.

In 1964, The Beatles made an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time. This set a record with 73 million people tuning in to the show in America, an impressive percentage of the approximately 190 million Americans at the time.

In 1986, Halley’s Comet made its most recent appearance in the inner part of the solar system. It’s next scheduled return is in 2061.


And that’s the way it is in Birdland on February 9. Have a safe Thursday.