The Orioles are a team and organization that I can admire. Maybe, admire from a distance. Last year Buck Showalter led this team of kids to a very successful season. I doubt that success translates to further success in 2013, but Showalter does have a few cards up his sleeves that make this team somewhat dangerous.
Mar 2, 2013; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter (26) watches from the dugout during the bottom of the fourth inning of a spring training game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
The Orioles are young, smart, and now have proven that they can hang in the AL East. Their pythag record last year did not match actual win/loss record. Their win total was far ahead of their pythag, which means, they should have made a few adjustments heading into 2013. Like BABIP, we should expect the Orioles return to the mean. Pythag is the win/loss record you should have according to your runs scored/runs against tally for the season. Since they didn’t add anyone major to their roster to improve their pythag, we can assume that Baltimore’s actual win total will dip a bit from last year.
It should be noted that Buck Showalter is a pretty good manager. I don’t think there is a manager in the game that can add more than 10 or so wins out of any team, but Showalter showed last year that he can find or create a new undervalued market in the game. Apparently he polled major league relievers and asked what might he, as a manager, do better. Overwhelmingly, the answer was, “don’t warm me up and not put me in the game.” Showalter took it a step further. He doesn’t unnecessarily warm up pitchers, but he also pays close attention to how many pitches they throw and how ofter they throw. Not only did the relievers of the Orioles appreciate the gesture, they thrived on the consistency that Showalter offered by having one of the better bullpens in the majors last year.
Though the Orioles didn’t make any major improvements to the team over the off-season, it is widely understood that Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy will be pitching for the team come July. And a major addition by subtraction was that of Mark Reynolds. Defense is still a major part of the equation that most major league organizations undervalue. And Mark Reynolds is one of the worst defenders of all time!
Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, and Manny Machado will lead a pretty potent offense and defense. If Bundy and Gausman can prove that they are ready, this team has a decent chance to be a major player come August. In the end, I just don’t think they have enough arms to compete with the Rays and Jays. It will definitely be a breath of fresh air to see these three atop the AL East and not those other two. Of course, its not really going to matter if the Orioles win 68 games or 88 games, because the Dodgers will still be better than them.