Orioles' draft position becomes clearer with wins over Tigers; Alberto plays catalyst; no sweeps - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Paul Folkemer

Orioles’ draft position becomes clearer with wins over Tigers; Alberto plays catalyst; no sweeps

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

In the battle of Major League Baseball’s cellar dwellers, the Orioles have emerged the better of the two so far.

The Orioles secured an 8-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday afternoon, their second win of the four-game set that concludes Monday.

The series has further cemented the Tigers’ place as the worst team in baseball, dropping them to 44-104. They’re 4 1/2 games behind the 49-100 Orioles, who have the second-worst record. Baltimore has 13 games remaining; Detroit, 14.

The Tigers entered the series in pole position for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft. Only a sweep of the Orioles would have shaken up that race. Instead, the gap has widened. The Orioles have all but locked into the No. 2 pick, with only the 52-97 Miami Marlins within shouting distance.

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There are some Oriole fans who would’ve rather seen the club lose in Detroit this weekend and make a bid for the top overall pick. The sentiment is understandable. As I wrote last year, No. 1 draft picks have accumulated over 350 Wins Above Replacement more than No. 2 picks in their major league careers.

But that doesn’t mean losing games is something any team should aspire to. The Orioles, under first-year manager Brandon Hyde, don’t take the field expecting anything less than to beat their opponent. And although the difference between, say, 50 and 54 wins might not seem significant, these games still mean something to the players on the Orioles’ roster who are competing for jobs next year. Any contributions they can make to help the club win games could boost their status in the organization.

Yes, the Orioles are in a rebuilding mode. General manager Mike Elias has acknowledged that the club’s win-loss record isn’t the front office’s primary focus in 2019. Still, there’s a difference between accepting that the team will lose and actively rooting for them to do so. Even in the waning days of a 100-loss season, no Oriole wants to hear that players should be in “tanking” mode, or that losing should be encouraged or celebrated.

The Orioles enjoy winning and don’t think about how it might affect their 2020 draft status. And, the second overall pick isn’t too shabby, as Elias knows. As the amateur scouting director in Houston, Elias used the No. 2 pick in 2015 on LSU infielder Alex Bregman, now a budding superstar and Most Valuable Player candidate for the Astros.

Alberto contributes despite mini-slump

Hanser Alberto’s chase for the AL batting title has fallen to the wayside. After his batting average reached .321 on September 8, he went 3-for-17 over his next four games, dropping his average five points. With two hits in five at-bats Sunday, Alberto pushed back up to .317, but he’s well behind the Chicago’s Tim Anderson (.332) for the league lead.

Even if the hits haven’t fallen with the same frequency, Alberto found ways to spark the lineup Sunday. In the top of the second inning, Alberto hustled out of the box to beat the relay to first on what appeared to be a routine double play. He came around to score when the next two hitters both singled.

The following inning, with a runner at third and two down, Alberto caught the Tigers’ defense napping by placing a perfect bunt down the third-base line. The successful squeeze plated the tying run and set up Rio Ruiz’s go-ahead two-run homer, giving the Orioles a lead they held for the rest of the game.

Alberto has been one of the Orioles’ biggest breakout stars in 2019 — sometimes for doing the little things.

No sweeps for Orioles

The Orioles will wrap up their four-game set in Detroit on Monday afternoon with a chance for a series win. Their loss on Saturday, however, assured that they won’t leave town with a sweep. They remain the only team in baseball that hasn’t swept a series in 2019.

According to MLBSweeps.com, just four teams since 1961 have gone an entire season without a sweep: the 1983 Seattle Mariners, the 2004 Arizona Diamondbacks and Kansas City Royals, and the 2018 Miami Marlins. All four were terrible teams; the Mariners had a 60-102 record, the Diamondbacks 51-111, the Royals 58-104 and the Marlins 63-98.

The Orioles are four series away from becoming the fifth club on that list. Their remaining series are all three-gamers: one apiece against the Toronto Blue Jays and Mariners at home, and visits to Toronto and Boston to close out the season. The home set against the Blue Jays might be the Orioles’ best chance to get a sweep; they’re 7-6 against Toronto this season and a combined 6-14 against Boston and Seattle.

No Orioles club has ever gone a full season without a sweep, though the 1988 and 2001 squads each had only one. Last year’s 115-loss Orioles, the worst team in franchise history, managed two sweeps, a two-gamer on the road against the New York Mets and a three-gamer against the Blue Jays in Baltimore.

The most sweeps in club history belonged to the 109-win 1969 Orioles, who had 18. The Orioles had 17 sweeps in 1970, 1980 and 1997.

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Fareastern89

    September 16, 2019 at 7:14 am

    Right now, there doesn’t seem to be a consensus number one draft pick for next year, so the draft order might be more a matter of how much bonus pool money the O’s have to spread around. But what happens, Paul, if the O’s and Miami end up with the same won-loss record? What’s the tiebreaker in that situation? (Sorry for the arcane question, but this is what the past two seasons have done to me.)

    • Paul Folkemer

      September 16, 2019 at 7:54 am

      The tiebreaker is the team that had the worse record in the previous season (2018). That would be the Orioles.

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    September 16, 2019 at 7:46 am

    All analytics aside … tanking is for losers. I understand the thought process of our fans that support losing for better draft position, I just can’t understand where their heart is on a game by game basis. How can you sit and watch our boys and hope they lose at the same time? My guess is that these fans aren’t watching at all. Can you call yourself a die hard fan if this is the case?

    • CalsPals

      September 16, 2019 at 8:20 am

      Totally agree, you always play to win…go O’s…

    • NormOs

      September 16, 2019 at 12:09 pm

      BRR, I agree with everything you wrote. It hurts, but I watch every game hoping for a win.

    • Ekim

      September 16, 2019 at 12:53 pm

      Add me to that list.

    • Camden Brooks

      September 16, 2019 at 7:18 pm

      Agreed. I will add that I don’t believe the organization has ever set this team up to tank this year. Rebuilding from within is going to result in some bad baseball, but it isn’t tanking.

    • OriolesNumber1Fan

      September 16, 2019 at 8:22 pm

      Wrong again Boogster. I got the mlb package specifically to watch the Orioles. I can get out of my own selfage wants for hoping for the Orioles to win every game and instead hope they get the number 1 pick for the better of the team. And as for not a clear number 1 pick as others have stated they are the ones that don’t keep up on talent from the college and h.s. rankings. The number 1 pick will probably go to the Tigers now and they will select Emerson Hancock rhp from Georgia Bulldogs. Quite possibly be the next Justin Verlander. Throws 98 – 99 mph with movement and a great off speed sinker. Top of the rotation starter per scouting reports. Was drafted before going to college but he followed his commitment to go to college. Could have been next Orioles ace. Remember that name. But you would rather see that they win their remaining games to what get to 60 wins? What does that accomplish? Nothing!!!

  3. Orial

    September 16, 2019 at 8:35 am

    On the subject of Alberto. He gets criticised for swinging too much,only hitting singles,and never walking. An OBP of .340 is decent not great. Wondering if he were to become more selective and look for BBs would his OBP still be .340 but with a BA of .275. My point is–his singles are his walks. Interesting player who I wouldn’t tweak with too much. Number 1 pick,number 2 pick–doesn’t matter too much.

    • willmiranda

      September 16, 2019 at 10:08 am

      Agree with you, Orial. There’s too much “A walk is as good as a hit” thinking. It’s not. For one thing every hit is not just a single. For another, even singles give the possibility of baserunners moving up more than one base; a walk only moves them one base and only if they are forced. How many RBI’s result from walks? Third, a safely batted ball in play can result in errors, physical and mental, by the defense. It would be better to say that a walk is better than an out and preferable to being hit by a pitch.

      • Jbigle1

        September 16, 2019 at 7:51 pm

        A safely batted ball can also turn into a double play….or even a triple play….It’s all good to not be on the walks team but that argument doesn’t do much for me. Not everyone on your team needs to be an OBP machine but you can take a look at any of the top teams in baseball and you’ll find more than a couple
        Guys on the OBP leaderboard. Those who get on base more score more.

    • Camden Brooks

      September 16, 2019 at 7:22 pm

      Also why Mountcastle’s walk rate doesn’t bother me. He needs to cut down on the K’s though.

  4. cb

    September 16, 2019 at 9:03 am

    I can not bring myself to pull for an Orioles loss. There is one exception though, let’s say it is near the end of season and an Oriole loss would cost the yankees a post season spot. I think I could do it then.

  5. ClayDal

    September 16, 2019 at 11:11 am

    The idea that the Orioles would be tanking makes little sense. For one thing, only 2 players on the current roster have a guaranteed contract for next year. Doing a cursory look at the current roster, you can find about 20 players that could be considered “on the bubble “ Doubt that Paul Fry, Dwight Smith Jr, or Aaron Brooks, just to name 3 players at random, care about next years draft. Hyde and Elias are first year unproven managers and GM’s. For all the talk about Astroball, they don’t have forever to turn things around. Not saying they need to win right away, but if by 2021 , if things aren’t at least going in a positive direction, they could be replaced. And unlike the NFL and NBA , one player doesn’t make as much difference to a teams success. The Angels with Mike Trout have never won a playoff game

  6. PA Bird Lover

    September 16, 2019 at 11:44 am

    By even mentioning “tanking” tugs a black cloud over the integrity of baseball.

    • Dudski

      September 16, 2019 at 7:44 pm

      Well said. Throughout the history of the game even the worst teams normally win 40% of their games. When you dip below that you aren’t fielding anything more than AAAA baseball. And there is a price. Attendance is negatively affected, you don’t have players who know how to win helping the younger guys along, and you’ve communicated to future free agents that you can’t come to that city to win. The race to the bottom is just that, a race to the bottom.

      • Jbigle1

        September 16, 2019 at 7:55 pm

        I’m certainly not a ranking advocate but despite what you may believe your personal feeling is on the matter. Whether the orioles won 64 or 46 games it would have little to do with attendance. A team who has playoff Aspirations will obviously draw more but the attendance difference between a really bad Orioles team and a bad orioles team is only marginal.

        With the lack of talent we had on this roster I don’t think there was a path to getting this team to more than 64 wins. Ownership certainly wouldn’t have recouped anywhere close to the added player salary cost to even make that happen. And I also don’t think that would help us in the long run.

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