The worst season in the history of the Baltimore Orioles is over, and now an eventful offseason is about to begin. Manager Buck Showalter is expected to be replaced, perhaps as early as Monday, and there’s no word on whether Dan Duquette, the team’s longtime executive vice president of baseball operations, is staying.
Showalter, who is 24th on the all-time managers’ win list, not only skippered a team that was the worst in franchise history but one of the worst in baseball history.
The Orioles finished 47-115 and were consistently bad, losing 19 or 20 games in April, May, June, August and September. They never had a winning streak of more than four games but had 11 losing streaks of five or more.
By the end of April, the Orioles had lost 20 of 28 and were already 12 ½ games out of the American League East lead. Things got worse when the team lost seven straight in a West Coast trip against the Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics.
And, when the team returned to Baltimore, Dylan Bundy allowed four home runs to Kansas City’s first seven batters, something that had never been done in baseball history.
“It’s disappointing, obviously, because you’re coming in the year and you thought you were going to be a great competitive team on paper,” Trey Mancini said.
“It certainly seemed to be that way, and we never really could bounce back from that April. It was tough for us. We didn’t play to the best of our ability and things, I think, especially after the West Coast road trip to Anaheim and Oakland, that was pretty tough for us, too. It might have taken the wind out of our sails, too.
“I think at that point, everybody kind of knew what was going to happen at the trade deadline. We did what we had to do there.”
When the Orioles traded Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the All-Star break, they had a record of 28-69 for a winning percentage of .289. After they dealt Machado, they were 19-46, and their winning percentage was nearly the same: .292.
The team used a record 56 players, including 15 who made their major league debut.
“You’re going to have a lot of new guys, a lot of young guys making their major league debuts,” Mancini said. “You kind of know that you’re not going to win as many games when that’s the case. I think it was important for a lot of us to start playing together and get to know each other and hopefully take all the lessons and use that to better ourselves next year. We have a good group here, and it just takes a while to kind of mesh.”
The Orioles won a game in each of their final six series, avoiding a long losing streak to end the season. Each win was in the final game of those six series.
Mancini, who finished third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting in 2017, slumped early in the season but perked up to finish with a .242 average, 24 home runs, tying him with Machado for the team lead, and 58 RBIs. He said that good came out of the season.
“Absolutely, I think I take actually a lot of positives from it,” Mancini said.
“Just going through something like this, you kind of use it for the future as a motivation tool, knowing how to get yourself out of a rut, or a big slump, if you’re going through it. You learn a lot about yourself in struggles, and I think everybody here can take a lot of lessons from this year and better themselves for the future.”
Fewer people watched the Orioles in person. The team drew 1,564,192, a drop of about 464,000 from 2017, and the smallest full-season attendance since 1978.
Showalter doesn’t blame the fans for not supporting a losing team.
“Attendance is down. That’s our fault—not theirs,” he said.
“People have a lot of decisions in their lives to make about what they’re doing,” Showalter said. “It’s up to us to give them something they want to embrace.”
Whoever manages the team next year will have nowhere to go but up. However, even a 15-win gain, normally a cause of celebration, would mean another 100-loss season.
“It’s about winning the game. That’s one of the things I really feel like we need to get back to, the expectations of winning,” Showalter said. “That’s part of it. You’ve got to have expectations of winning, regardless of if you’re whatever they call it nowadays — building. I don’t believe in rebuild, the word rebuild. The first thing you have to accomplish, and one of the things I tried to do when we I got here, is to raise the expectations of winning.”