Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Orioles Outlook

It is the time if year when hope springs eternal. Spring training has ended and the Orioles have broken camp and are heading north in preparation for Opening Day.

Thursday is Opening Day and I am planning on being there to see the team in person. I have my tickets in hand for the big event and am excited that baseball is returning. 

That written, the Orioles are facing three greatly improved teams in the American League East. The Red Sox, the Blue Jays, and Yankees have each improved their positions during the off season. The Orioles will face each of them 19 times during the season. That is 57 games of a 162 game season, or almost 1/3 of their games will be against improved division rivals. 

On top of that, the Orioles face the World Series champion Houston Astros six times. 

To start the season, the Orioles face the four teams just mentioned during 13 of their first 17 games, including two four game away series against the Red Sox and the Yankees. And did I mention they open the season at home against the Twins, who may be the heir apparent to win the AL Central?

It could be a very disappointing and ugly start to the season. The Orioles could start something as bad as 4-13 for their first 17 games. I prefer to think that based upon what I saw during Spring Training they will be competitive and they will start the season 7-10. Where does it go from there?

I believe the O's are going to lose a lot of high run scoring games. Offense abounds in the AL East. The O's may have a solid rotation eventually, but they are starting the season with only three capable starters and a couple of hopefuls. The Orioles have holes in the reliever corps and are starting the season without the closer, Zach Britton. The lineup will be suspect against left-handed pitching and defensively right field and third base could be a disaster.

Did I mention Manny Machado? The circus surrounding him will likely end mid-season with a trade that will leave a gaping hole in the Orioles offense and defense.

For the 80 games against AL East teams and the Astros, it is likely the O's will collectively go 34-46 for a .425. That leaves 82 games against the rest of the league and it is likely the O's will split those games going 41-41. 

Sadly, then, my projection is that the O's will limp through the season and finish 75-87, which, sadly, is where they finished last year. I do believe that the Tampa Bay Rays will have a worse record in the AL East and so the Orioles will finish 4th.

I will be very happy for the Orioles to prove me wrong and make the playoffs.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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