Orioles' win total will be secondary to the rebuild again in 2020 - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Orioles’ win total will be secondary to the rebuild again in 2020

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

Last week, oddsmaker Bet Online issued its first over/under win totals for major league clubs. Not surprisingly, the Orioles, with 55 ½, were last.

A year ago, the Orioles also were last in Bet Online’s estimation with an over/under of 57 ½.

The Orioles ended the season 54-108, so if you bet the under, you won.

However, the Orioles didn’t have the worst record in baseball. The Detroit Tigers, who had an over/under of 68 1/2, were way under when they stumbled to a 47-114 record.

With the widespread legalization of gambling, there are more and more ways to lose money. Just days before the win totals came out, Bet Online made Buck Showalter the 2-to-1 favorite to manage the Houston Astros in 2020. Dusty Baker was assigned 10-to-1 odds.

Bet Online will have odds on nearly anything. They have dozens of prop bets for the Super Bowl. So, if you were wondering: Will Antonio Brown tweet during the game? You have a service that will take that bet.

If you wager the over on the Orioles, and you won’t get any gambling advice from me, you’re betting that the Orioles will go 56-106 or better.

Even though general manager Mike Elias has emphasized the importance of building from the ground up, Oriole fans continue to obsess over the win/loss record.

The team improved by seven games in 2019 from the franchise record 47-115 in 2018.


However, if the Orioles improve by the same amount in 2020, you’ll win the bet, but the team would still drop 101 games.

At that rate, the Orioles wouldn’t get to the .500 mark until 2023 when they’d finish 82-80.

But, as Elias likes to say, don’t expect a linear improvement.

While it’s unfashionable these days to make comparisons to the Houston Astros, they were the last major league team to lose 100 games in three consecutive seasons. That’s something Oriole fans would prefer to avoid

The Astros lost 106 games in 2011, the year before Elias arrived from St. Louis, 107 in 2012 and 111 in 2013.

In 2014, Houston improved to 70-92 before they began their run with a 86-76 record and a playoff spot in 2015.

In their history, the Orioles have lost 100 or more games four times — in their first season, 1954, when they were 54-100; 1988, when they started 0-21 and finished 54-107; and the last two seasons.

Some of our readers have predicted that the Orioles could win 65 games this season. I don’t want to be a pessimist, but that would mean the team lost 97 games, which is still a terrible record.

After the team traded infielder Jonathan Villar and starting pitcher Dylan Bundy for five pitching prospects, some said the team would lose 120 or 130 games, which won’t happen. Some changed their way of thinking when shortstop José Iglesias was signed.

This season, as Elias points out, is still about adding talent.

When you look at some of the young pitchers coming to spring training next month, it’s clear that there is more talent, and more refined talent than there was in the organization a year ago.

That doesn’t mean it will translate to a better win/loss record, but in 2019 the team improved slightly when younger players such as Anthony Santander, Hunter Harvey and Austin Hays were added to the mix later in the season.

In the first half of last season, the Orioles were 27-62 for a .303 winning percentage. After the All-Star break, they were 27-46 for a .370 percentage.

If you extrapolate their second-half pace for a full season, that would translate into a 60-102 record.

While there are still a number of placeholders, especially in the pitching staff, it seems that the Orioles will be better prepared for 162 games than they were a year ago.

In 2019, the Orioles used 18 different starting pitchers. Some, like Richard Bleier, aren’t starters but it isn’t certain if manager Brandon Hyde will use an opener followed by someone to take the Orioles deeper into the game.

In one of the most surprising games of the season, Bleier opened on September 20 against the Seattle Mariners and after allowing a two-run home run in two innings, in came Aaron Brooks, who pitched the final seven innings, giving up just one run on a hit.

Brooks is gone, off to South Korea, but Hyde could use that strategy.

Hyde will have to sift through 34 pitchers during spring training. Zac Lowther, Alex Wells and Bruce Zimmermann, all young left-handers who won’t make the club, could possibly appear later in the 2020 season.

And there lies the reason for optimism. If the Orioles think they’re ready, they could get a shot. Elias has emphasized that they don’t want to bring players up only to have to return them to the minor leagues.

They’ll have to learn in the major leagues, but they won’t be rushed.

As hard as it might seem, Oriole fans should try to put the record into the background. It can’t be ignored, but 2020 is for watching younger players grow.

The guess here, and not the bet here, is a year from now, the Orioles’ over/under for wins will be substantially higher than it is now and fans can start fixating on the record again.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    January 30, 2020 at 7:57 am

    Rich, for me, it’s not about “fixating on the record”, it’s about fixating on management blatantly ignoring the record. Allow me to point out, that the bulk of this young talent we’re about to see develop this year, was obtained before the team went into tank mode, proving you don’t have to stink to biblical proportions to get players.

    What Elias has done to this team is a traveshamockery. What’s next .. metal trash cans in the runway?

    • Baltimore Castaway

      January 30, 2020 at 9:34 am

      Boog..respectfully; why blame Elias for the mess this team is in? He walked into an organization that was in utter disarray–from top to bottom.

      It is the most intelligent way to rebuild a franchise like the Orioles.

      If anything it should have been started long before Elias arrived..and yes, rebuilds like this men that the ML Team is awful for a period of time, like they were in Showalter’s last season as the Manager.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        January 30, 2020 at 11:35 am

        Respectfully back at you BC .. but Showalter’s last losing season was not the result of a rebuild. It was simply a team that had come close and failed to reach the top before falling apart due to age, player loss .. whatever .. natural reasons. I can live with that.

        I’ll grant you that Elias took over an organization in complete disarray from top to bottom. From what I read, he is trying to build a solid foundation to move forward. Building from the ground up does seem be the intelligent way to go about things. I give him credit and respect for that.

        But I don’t think that tanking for draft picks can be characterized as the most ‘intelligent’ way to go about a rebuild. Maybe it’s the fastest .. maybe the easiest and it’s certainly the cheapest course of action, but it’s not the only or even close to being the smartest way. Ethically speaking .. it’s an embarrassment .. or at least it should be. It’s sort of like beating a trash can to gain an advantage. Call me a dinosaur, but that’s how I feel about it.

        I wish Mike Elias the best. I really do. I hope he’ll be the winning-est GM this city has ever seen when all is said and done. But frankly, IMO, his methodology so far has been lacking in dignity.

        • Eastern Sho Joe

          January 30, 2020 at 8:00 pm

          Mr Boog, I don’t understand why you believe that Showalter’s last season wasn’t part of a rebuild. They dumped Machado, Britton, O’Day, Gausman and others.

          Incidentally, one could argue that the O’s were tanking in 2018, why else would Showalter put Davis batting leadoff?

          We all see things differently, but the O’s finished last in 2017 & 18, and didn’t have any plan to get better. We now have a growing presence in Latin America, increased player development staff and a definitive strategy.

          I don’t know about anyone else, but I think we’re a lot better off now than we were in 2017 and 2018.

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            January 31, 2020 at 7:12 am

            I don’t believe you can call Buck’s last year a rebuild when those players were traded AFTER the season was a lost cause, and just prior to the trade deadline. They were desperately trying to get one last playoff run out of a team on it’s last legs and it didn’t work out that way. If they had intended it to be a rebuild year, they would have traded Machado and the others before the season began while their stock was higher.

            As far as Davis batting leadoff … I’m of the opinion that was simply a desperate attempt to get “anything” out of the big lump of goo Davis had morphed into.The owners simply weren’t going to let Davis go, and Buck was probably at wit’s end with what to do with the guy.

            BTW … I wholeheartedly agree with you that we’re better off than 2017 & 2018, but that isn’t to say that I have to like or accept Elias putting a lesser team on the field than he could have last year. IMO, there was no reason to hold back Hays, Santander & Chance. They should have been on the team from jump. And the Villar trade? We couldn’t afford $8 million to retain our best offensive player? C’mon man!

    • CalsPals

      January 30, 2020 at 12:45 pm

      Perfect Boog…go O’s…

  2. Bman

    January 30, 2020 at 8:30 am

    I prefer one more terrible season and the Os land Kumar Rocker next year. Dump all the placeholders by August or in the off-season. With that said, I think they will be better than expected.

  3. Fareastern89

    January 30, 2020 at 8:36 am

    Rich, I’d go with the under — not because the O’s might be worse than last year (although that starting rotation is still a mess), but because a lot of other AL teams have improved even more. But it will be more enjoyable to watch, with younger players making their debuts along the way

  4. Orial

    January 30, 2020 at 8:41 am

    People tend to look at the major League roster and say “Elias this,Elias that”. That’s fine but the real objective is organizational–from baseball camps in the Caribbean,International scouting and drafting,to the talent level at A to AAA. Until that’s running on all cylinders focusing fully on the big club is a little pointless. Get competitive,smart(that team last year was NOT smart)but focus on building an elite organization.

  5. Roley59

    January 30, 2020 at 9:13 am

    As long as there is improvement from the last two years i will be okay with it Rich.

  6. NormOs

    January 30, 2020 at 9:30 am

    With Bundy and Villiers gone, the O’s have lost 50% of the major leaguers on the team. There can hardly be improvement over last year. Rich, 37 and 125 seems justified for a minor league team playing in the ALEast. I assume the team is still in the “Tear Down” mode until we can move Mancini and Givens then we’ll have a complete team of “placeholders”.”The REBUILD is almost ready to start” Maybe 21/22 or whenever, depending on how long Elias can keep BSing everyone.

  7. Bancells Moustache

    January 30, 2020 at 9:47 am

    Fans “obsess over the won/loss record”? Rich, that is literally the sole measuring stick of a professional sports franchise. There is no Keith Law Memorial Most Interesting Prospects trophy.

    I do pause when the Astros comparison comes up, because I think it is inaccurate. If Elias is as smart as everyone says he is, he is modeling this franchise on his previous employer; the St. Louis Cardinals. Storied franchise in a small, struggling city competing with the big money team up North by producing a seemingly endless parade of homegrown contributors. The Cards, not the Astros, are who the Orioles should aspire to be.

    • CalsPals

      January 30, 2020 at 12:44 pm

      Totally agree…go O’s…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      January 30, 2020 at 5:22 pm

      Wow Banmo … Keith Law …Nice.

      I wonder how many of our other readers had to google that name today?

  8. willmiranda

    January 30, 2020 at 10:19 am

    Agree, Ban, on obsession with winning being a good one in sports. Have to disagree with others who say that the O’s are adding talent. As this winter’s trade action shows, they’re still dumping talent. What they’re adding is potential, which is suspected talent amplified by imagination, which makes the talent suspect. If they were adding talent, which is realized potential, they would be adding wins, and we wouldn’t be having this discussion. I hope we’ll have a column soon about obsessing on the Astros, who proved you could lose a lot of games, but if you learn to cheat, you’ll improve your win/loss record, and all the obsessors will love you.

  9. boss61

    January 30, 2020 at 11:54 am

    Rich, I saw your tweet before the whole article and initially I’d have taken the “under” even though my heart wants it to be otherwise. Now having read your fine analysis, I’m right on 60-102; last year’s 2nd half performance. So put me down for $1 on “over.” At that magnitude of a bet, I think I can afford to be wrong.

  10. Mickraut

    January 30, 2020 at 3:38 pm

    The St. Louis analogy is spot-on.

    • CalsPals

      January 30, 2020 at 3:48 pm

      One thing different, # of big corporations that make STL home…go O’s…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      January 30, 2020 at 5:27 pm

      BanMo is almost always spot on. However in this case, I’m not so sure. I don’t remember St. Louis ever tanking.

      • Rich Dubroff

        January 30, 2020 at 6:58 pm

        The last time the Cardinals lost 100 games was 1908, and they’ve never had the top draft pick.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          January 31, 2020 at 2:47 pm

          So you’re saying it can be done?

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