Looking beyond the Orioles' win-loss record - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Looking beyond the Orioles’ win-loss record

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

For many, there’s only one way to measure the success of a season: the win-loss record. A year ago, the Orioles were 25-35 in the shortened 60-game season, which can be extrapolated to a 67-95 record.

Let’s look beyond the record as spring training approaches.

Did the team improve?

Since we don’t know how the Orioles would have performed in a 162-game season, you would have to say there was improvement.

However, a 95-loss team isn’t one to celebrate. That would be a 20-game improvement over the 115 losses the club had in 2018 and a marginal one from the 108 losses in 2019.

The Orioles began the season 12-8 and stayed in contention for the next third of the season. With 19 games to go, they were 20-21, but they lost 14 of their final 19.

Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias has cautioned that the record isn’t necessarily linear. It would be surprising if the record improved substantially in 2021.

Is the team likely to finish last?

The Orioles didn’t finish last in 2020. They finished in fourth place, the first time they hadn’t been fifth in the American League East since 2016.

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The Boston Red Sox finished in fifth, a game behind the Orioles, but left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will be back after missing last season because of Covid-19 and myocarditis. Chris Sale, who underwent Tommy John surgery last March, will be closely monitored as he completes his recovery.

Boston’s newest starter is Garrett Richards, who was healthy last season after 2018 Tommy John surgery.

The other teams — the Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays — should be contenders.

Even though the Rays traded Blake Snell to the San Diego Padres, they still have some good starters. Tyler Glasnow, the recently re-signed Chris Archer, Michael Wacha, Ryan Yarbrough and several promising pitchers will be vying for the fifth spot in the rotation.

The Rays, who rely as much or more on their bullpen as their starters, might not win the East and return to the World Series, but they’re still formidable.

New York saw Masahiro Tanaka return to Japan, and the Yankees replaced him in the rotation with two pitchers who have a recent history of injuries, right-handers Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon.

They still have one of baseball’s best starters, Gerrit Cole, along with Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, Deivi Garcia and Domingo Germán, who was 18-4 in 2019 but missed last season after a suspension for domestic violence.

Toronto added to its core of young players — first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., second baseman Cavan Biggio, shortstop Bo Bichette and left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr with the biggest free-agent signing of the winter, right fielder George Springer.

Springer signed a six-year, $150 million deal with the Blue Jays.

They also have Randal Grichuk, who has terrorized the Orioles. In 40 games against the Orioles, Grichuk has 19 home runs, 44 RBIs, a .338 average and a 1.184 OPS.

Last season, Toronto finished seven games ahead of the Orioles for the final playoff spot despite playing all their games outside of Canada. This season, a return to Toronto at the start of the season seems problematic because of Covid-19, and they probably can’t play a second season in Buffalo because of scheduling conflicts with their Triple-A club.

It’s possible the Blue Jays could begin the season by playing their home games at their spring training home in Dunedin, Florida.

The Orioles don’t have the talent of the AL East’s top three teams, and if Sale and Rodriguez come back strongly, holding off the Red Sox is unlikely.

How should improvement be measured?

In 2019 when the Orioles lost 108 games, they could point to the successful seasons of left-hander John Means and right fielder Anthony Santander.

Last season, Means began poorly, but ended strongly, and Santander was the team’s most valuable player until he suffered an oblique injury and missed the last 23 games.

The Orioles had some other bright spots. Ryan Mountcastle played an acceptable left field and hit .333 with an .878 OPS in 35 games. Austin Hays played well in the outfield and showed some punch late in the season after breaking a rib early in the season.

Cedric Mullins, who had an awful 2019 season that saw him sent all the way to Double-A Bowie, rebounded sharply and played exceptionally well in center field.

Rookie left-hander Keegan Akin and right-hander Dean Kremer showed promise in their late-season starts.

The team is accumulating useful pieces, and there are signs of improvement.

When will the record reflect improvement?

The Orioles won’t blame the lack of a minor league season in 2020, but it hurt them more than many other teams.

Their top two prospects from the 2019 draft, catcher Adley Rutschman and shortstop Gunnar Henderson, only played at the Bowie alternate site after brief professional debuts two years ago.

Other top prospects — outfielder Yusniel Diaz and pitchers Michael Baumann, DL Hall, Zac Lowther, Grayson Rodriguez and Alexander Wells — didn’t pitch competitively.

If some of these prospects debut successfully later this season or early next, there will be measurable improvement in 2022.

Call for questions: I’ll be answering your Orioles questions next week. Please leave them in the comments section below or email them to: [email protected]

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

61 Comments

61 Comments

  1. CalsPals

    February 5, 2021 at 7:48 am

    Dante Bichette is Bo’s dad…go O’s…

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 5, 2021 at 8:17 am

      Sharp eyes, thank you Ray.

  2. Rob IsraOsFan

    February 5, 2021 at 8:02 am

    As much as I hate watching NL games with the pitchers striking out almost every time they come to bat, after reading this piece and getting all depressed that the AL East will always be an uphill battle, we have to start a movement to get MLB to switch the O’s with the Nationals and into the NL East!

  3. Orial

    February 5, 2021 at 8:38 am

    I think the organization has gotten to the point where on-field progress is not even the main measuring stick anymore. The AL East will always be loaded with good teams trying to become great teams. The Covid related closed gates at OPACY disguised what was and will become the real measuring stick–fan interest/apathy. Reading Orioles chat sites is one thing but checking in with the common fan is another. Continued last place finishes may help stockpile your farm system but with both Oakland and Tampa looking to be build new stadiums or ask for refuge in Nashville, Las Vegas,or Montreal the O’s could become the bottom feeders in attendance. That’s worrisome. Yes the organization as presently constructed has made some painfully slow but promising strides but there will come a time when the financial bottom line will not put up with it anymore. Nice to have a plan but the clock is ticking. Btw–how’s that Stadium lease working out?

    • Birdman

      February 5, 2021 at 10:17 am

      You have focused on the big, overarching question about the Orioles going forward – the financial stability of the franchise.

      Elias inherited a dysfunctional franchise after the 2018 season: second worst winning pct.(.290) in the previous 65 years of MLB; the dead weight of the Davis and Cobb contracts; and non-participation in the Latin American market which accounts for nearly 1/3 of MLB players. Given these headwinds, and a very sparse budget to work with, Elias has done a good job – not perfect, but a good job.

      We should know within the next couple of years whether Elias’ program of building a talent “pipeline” has worked on the field, but even assuming he succeeds, the financial future of the franchise appears, at best, to be cloudy. At this point, we can only speculate, and hope.

  4. CalsPals

    February 5, 2021 at 8:47 am

    No problem, Blake St bomber (I think)…lol…go O’s…

  5. Boog Robinson Robinson

    February 5, 2021 at 8:49 am

    Waaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh. All is lost!

    Why do we even bother to play the games?

    Quite the depressing read today Rich. Not criticizing … just saying …

    • CalsPals

      February 5, 2021 at 9:21 am

      Agree, but not sure it’s ok to do, may get ridiculed, the thing I really like is (for the most part) we’re free to offer our opinions, only a select few go nuts about what is said, ultimately if you’re an O’s fan, this is the place to be…funny how some people come & go, some are bold on their first few posts, it’s all ok here…(as long as they agree with us, lol)…go O’s…

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        February 5, 2021 at 10:43 am

        Can I call you Ray?

        Did I miss something last night?

    • dlgruber1

      February 5, 2021 at 10:58 am

      BRR I’m afraid I’m gonna add to your depressing reads today. This is the old, very bitter Colts fan talking now but I see too many similarities between the Colts of 78-83 and the current O’s.

      The big difference is it wasn’t until about ‘81 that attendance started dropping off as previous to that every game was a sellout with 60,213 in attendance at Memorial Stadium. By ‘81 the Colts were 2-14 (think 47-115) then in the strike shortened ‘82 season (think MLB next year) they failed to win a single game. Although they improved to 7-9 in ‘83 the damage was done and the low point was a November 13th game at home against Pittsburgh where there were more Steelers fans in attendance than Colts fans (think, Yankees, Red Sox).

      The owner (refuse to mention his name) was clearly tearing down the franchise so he could move the team, which he did after the ‘83 season. The biggest difference, and it IS a huge difference, is that Memorial Stadium was no Camden Yards. Hopefully, the O’s stay put.

      • Phil770

        February 5, 2021 at 1:26 pm

        Another big difference is MASN. The O’s have financial problems (cash flow) and the owner’s other source of income is essentially gone – law firms depend on partners generating revenue. PA’s condition suggests that revenue other than BB is substantially down, to non-existent. If the team is highly leveraged, which I suspect it is, than making loan payments are also a problem. If the Angelos family must sell before PA passes, then there may not be enough proceeds to pay taxes and the loans. MLB must approve all new owners and MLB must approve all relocations. It is just highly unlikely that the O’s would be sold AND moved anywhere. It would be a bad business deal for MLB.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        February 5, 2021 at 7:05 pm

        You’ve harshed my buzz DLG

    • CalsPals

      February 5, 2021 at 1:06 pm

      Sure, nothing big, just some newer posters…go O’s…

    • CalsPals

      February 5, 2021 at 3:19 pm

      Familiar with it, just haven’t had anyone reference it in forever, clever…go O’s…

  6. mmcmillan1123

    February 5, 2021 at 11:17 am

    The O’s were like an old lawn full of bare spots and weeds. Mike Elias is the gardener who is hired to fix it. He gets rid of the weeds first. Then he rakes the yard, seeds it, fertilizes it, waters it and waits for it to grow. Yes watching the O’s grow will sometimes seem like watching grass grow. You look out the window each day and nothing seems to be happening so you get mad at the gardener. He tells you to be patient and then one day you look out the window and you have a beautiful front lawn.

    • dlgruber1

      February 5, 2021 at 11:36 am

      He gets rid of the weeds first? There’s a weed on first base that’s overtaking the entire (Camden) yard!

    • jimcarter

      February 5, 2021 at 12:36 pm

      I guess LeBlanc and Wilkerson are examples of weeds that refuse to go away.

    • CalsPals

      February 5, 2021 at 1:08 pm

      Fertilizing, yep, he’s been doing plenty of that….go O’s…

    • Phil770

      February 5, 2021 at 1:30 pm

      You forgot the manure.

    • CalsPals

      February 5, 2021 at 1:50 pm

      That’s exactly what I meant, country boy knows what that smells like…go O’s…

    • OriolesNumber1Fan

      February 7, 2021 at 12:13 pm

      Good point mmcmillan. Add in all the cry babies crying on this site should really help water the lawn and make it grow faster as well!!! Lol

    • CalsPals

      February 7, 2021 at 12:41 pm

      Along with the BS that was just added, more fertilizer…LMAO…go O’s…

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        February 7, 2021 at 12:53 pm

        Only BS on this site is all the cry babies! Keep crying!!! Accomplishes nothing which you’re good at!!!

  7. Hallbe62

    February 5, 2021 at 11:47 am

    Managing “expectations”. I get it Rich.
    But 3 more years of this and the O’s better be Playoff viable.

    • jimcarter

      February 5, 2021 at 12:37 pm

      See the White Sox as an example of a rebuild that didn’t take an eternity.

    • BarstoolSleeper

      February 5, 2021 at 12:43 pm

      Before last years’ abbreviated schedule, the White Sox haven’t been a playoff team since 2008.

      • jimcarter

        February 5, 2021 at 10:02 pm

        And the Cubs are another Chicago team. That statement, as well as yours, have nothing to do with the length of the rebuild undertaken by the Sox.

    • CalsPals

      February 5, 2021 at 1:10 pm

      Won the WS in 2005, old as I am, that seems like yesterday…go O’s…

  8. Bhoffman1

    February 5, 2021 at 3:49 pm

    Never thought I’d see the day when Tampa Bay spends more on free agent players then the O’s. 8 mil to Archer, 3 mil to Wacha and talk of signing Marcel Ozuna. I like slot of our young outfielders and pitchers if we only could have signed a third baseman and a decent starting pitcher and spent some money we might still have wound up in the cellar but it could have been a much more exciting ride this season

    • dlgruber1

      February 5, 2021 at 5:04 pm

      Yet they get rid of Snell. That’s a bit of a head scratcher. But to your point, yeh, it’s tough watching a Rays team that just played in the WS go out and spend good money to get some quality pitchers. I wonder if Rays fans are clamoring for the #1 prospect in MLB to be with the club now or are being patient like O’s fans (sarcasm intended).

    • CalsPals

      February 5, 2021 at 5:52 pm

      I’m guessing somewhat that O’s fans wouldn’t be yelling as much for Rutschman if they’d just lost the WS, I’m also guessing Mikey would’ve been smart enough to start Rutschman ASAP IF they’d just lost the WS…go O’s…

    • CalsPals

      February 5, 2021 at 6:01 pm

      How about the team that won the WS signing the best FA pitcher available, takes $ to make $, they were already prohibitive leaders to win WS again at 9-2, now there odds are 7-2, that’s what winning organizations do, would be willing to guess they don’t have any waiver wire pick ups on their 40 man roster…go O’s…

      • Georgia Oriole

        February 5, 2021 at 10:40 pm

        When you spend $225M a year on payroll, that better buy you a WS. Even the Skankees aren’t spending that much. Let’s be honest, only like 5 teams can afford to spend that much. Baseball just needs a salary cap, but the players union will never let it happen.

    • CalsPals

      February 6, 2021 at 7:13 am

      TOTALLY agree, a salary cap will level the playing field considerably…go O’s…

    • CalsPals

      February 6, 2021 at 12:46 pm

      But I never see that getting agreed on, the players are too greedy…go O’s…

  9. ctevans

    February 5, 2021 at 3:52 pm

    Rich when do YOU see the O’s contending? I don’t trust Elias. Personally I don’t ever see us winning the division again as long as we won’t sign high end free agents

  10. WorldlyView

    February 5, 2021 at 5:36 pm

    Measuring a team’s success over an MLB season starts with a blank canvas. Next, many “artists” draw whatever his or her perception of “success” is. The process ends when observers give their subjective and diverse reactions to the images on the canvas. This process is readily visible most days in the comments section of this website.

  11. CalsPals

    February 5, 2021 at 6:02 pm

    Jonathan Schoop signs with the Tigers…go O’s…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      February 5, 2021 at 7:10 pm

      Any mention of $$?

    • CalsPals

      February 5, 2021 at 7:38 pm

      4.5 million….go O’s…

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        February 5, 2021 at 7:50 pm

        About 3.5 million more that the O’s would pony up I suppose.

    • dlgruber1

      February 5, 2021 at 11:39 pm

      He hasn’t been close to the same player since he was traded. Miss him at 2B tho.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        February 6, 2021 at 9:24 am

        I’m sure the comfy confines of OPACY has a lot to do with that.

        He did have a nice Covid season last year.

  12. Rob IsraOsFan

    February 6, 2021 at 2:04 am

    Now that Santander lost his arbitration case, Mikey has an extra $375K in his piggy bank. I predict he will use that to sign 33 year old free agent starting pitcher Tommy Milone to a minor league contract. We all remember Tommy…our 2020 Opening Day starting pitcher who played for the O’s a whopping 6 weeks before being traded to the Braves, LOL!

    • dlgruber1

      February 6, 2021 at 3:18 am

      I’d have lived to be a fly on the walk at that arbitration hearing:
      Elias-“He only played 37 games.”
      Santander-“I was voted O’s MVP.”
      Elias-“He only played 37 games.”
      Santander-“ I was a Gold Glove finalist.”
      Elias-“He only played 37 games.”
      Santander-“I still led the team in HRs and RBIs.”
      Elias-“C’mon man, we just let go of our entire broadcast team except for Palmer. We let go of our pitching coach. We even brought back Wade LeBlanc for Gods sake.”
      Arbitrator-“I find in favor of the Orioles.”
      Santander and Elias-“What????”

      • Rob IsraOsFan

        February 6, 2021 at 7:10 am

        dlg, awesome reply as always!! :-). And to think, all Santander had to say was “I am even willing to play third base this season if necessary” and the arbitrator would have voted in his favor. Anthony obviously came unprepared to the meeting.

      • Georgia Oriole

        February 6, 2021 at 9:31 am

        LOL

  13. WorldlyView

    February 6, 2021 at 2:32 am

    Speaking of signings, the Dodgers reportedly will be paying Trevor Bauer $40 million this year. This is about twice as much as the entire current Oriole roster minus C.D. For those who claim that enormous payrolls can’t buy championships, I say don’t bet against the Dodgers.

    • CalsPals

      February 6, 2021 at 7:19 am

      See above…go O’s…

    • dlgruber1

      February 6, 2021 at 2:39 pm

      You know, you might be right but, last seasons WS has an asterisk to me and always will. Take that away and the Dodgers haven’t won a WS since 1988. They are a great team obviously but until they win a “real” WS I think they’re one of the most underachieving teams in the past 30 years. They remind me if those great Braves teams that won 13 straight division titles but only a single WS. The Rays were a terrible managers decision from taking them to game 7 last year and their payroll is among the lowest in MLB. Would I rather, as a fan, be in the Dodgers position? Of course. I’m just saying the great thing about baseball is you don’t buy championships.

  14. CalsPals

    February 6, 2021 at 2:53 pm

    Got all excited, just saw Khris Davis was traded, bummer, it was the wrong Davis…go O’s…

    • dlgruber1

      February 6, 2021 at 3:04 pm

      Wouldn’t you think the O’s Davis is the one that should spell it with a K?

    • CalsPals

      February 6, 2021 at 3:13 pm

      Awesomely hysterical…go O’s…

  15. 8RipkenMurray33

    February 6, 2021 at 10:03 pm

    Depressing Read…..not criticizing, it’s a fact. Been a fan since the middle 60’s and would love to see the team competitive before I check out to the Birdland on the sky. WINS AND LOSSES ALWAYS MATTER……if not, why play the game

    • CalsPals

      February 7, 2021 at 4:54 am

      Yes it is, many of us have been saying that for quite a while, some people disagree, stealing a line from Herm Edwards, you play the game to win, bottom line, irritates the crap outta me when players are smiling & happy go lucky after a loss, that’s part of the problem, have no problem getting beat when someone is better, hate losing, it’s habit forming…again, old man on soapbox…go O’s…

  16. willmiranda

    February 7, 2021 at 3:22 pm

    If I may offer a set of stages I think a rebuild goes through. First, stop being atrocious; in baseball get out of the 100-loss category. Second, get to be a winning team, .500 or better. Third, be a contender, that is, in the playoffs. Fourth, be a champion. I think the normal sequence is to plateau, that is, achieve consistency, at each level. In today’s game, championship dynasties are almost impossible, but being regularly in contention is not; and being a consistent winner is achievable. What we seem to be discussing about the Orioles is how long they have to be atrocious before they become average at .500. It really is all about the W’s; that’s why we keep score. And if you want to boast about the farm system, let’s look up the records rather than speculate about the value of “prospects.” I think at least some of the minor league teams have shown improvement, so let’s talk about that.

    • Rob IsraOsFan

      February 8, 2021 at 12:58 am

      Will, I agree with almost everything, but in my book atrocious is if a team can’t win 70 games (namely 93 L’s and only 69 W’s). And that’s exactly who the O’s were in 2011 in the previous rebuild. In 2012 they skipped the entire 2nd stage and remained in the 3rd one for a consistent 5 years before the game plan started to unravel near the end of 2017.

      Signing Crash long term totally backfired, plus a few other unfortunate deals (which did and did not take place) also contributed to the downward spiral. Had we benefited from a bit more luck, our boys remain contenders and the past 3 atrocious years never happen.

      I am still bullish for next season (slightly over .500). I think the starting pitchers will exceed expectations and a few players will have breakout seasons offensively.

      But don’t get me wrong…I am still depressed we are in the AL East!

  17. Rob IsraOsFan

    February 8, 2021 at 1:28 am

    PS. Watching Brady win his 7th ring just a few hours ago makes me realize how much luck plays a role in sports. No one in their right mind would have ever predicted Brady to have the career he had/is having (199th overall pick in the 2000 NFL draft).

    We need more players in the dugout like Brady…guys who have that type of crazy work ethic and winner mentality, and who get pissed off when the team underachieves. Leaders who hold each player on the team accountable for their performance.

    • CalsPals

      February 8, 2021 at 7:35 am

      Agree, said something to that effect somewhere in this mess, too many guys smiling after losses, talking with former teammates during games, talking to opposing players during games, I’m not saying be an idiot, but there is a time & place for all that…wonder how Matheiu is feeling today?…go O’s…

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