The 81-game mark is approaching; how telling is first-half performance? -
Steve Cockey

The 81-game mark is approaching; how telling is first-half performance?

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

The All-Star break has always marked the informal halfway point of the Major League Baseball season. But the actual halfway point? Well that would come after the 81-game mark of the 162-game season, of course. And once Sunday’s series finale against the Mariners is complete, the Orioles will have reached it.

Regardless of what happens, the O’s have already clinched their best performance over the first 81 games of any season during the Buck Showalter era (2011 was his first full season as manager). What may surprise you is how their actual-first-half performances have (or haven’t) lined up with their eventual record. Here’s how it breaks down:

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Besides this year, the season with the best record through 81 games (2013) did not result in a playoff appearance (the O’s won 85 games and finished 6.5 games out of the second wild card spot). The final 81 games per year, meanwhile, have been much more revealing: 2012 and 2014 yielded the best performances by far over this stretch, and both seasons resulted in playoff berths.

So what does it all mean? Nothing really. There are two halves to every season and a team has to play well in both to sniff the postseason, obviously. But what is encouraging is that the Orioles – who have already made the playoffs in two of the last four years – have a better head start in 2016 than in any other season during this stretch. And by at least two games, with two more to play.

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