It’s been just over a month since the Orioles’ season ended, and in just over three months, pitchers and catchers will report to Sarasota for 2024 spring training. The first Grapefruit League game is on February 24th against Boston.
The 2023 season was full of surprises and interesting developments. Let’s look back on some:
They won 101 games
While I thought the Orioles would be good enough to qualify for the postseason, I never envisioned them winning the American League East and winning 101 games.
It was the sixth time in franchise history the Orioles won at least 100 games, the first time since 1980, and the most since 1979 when they were 102-57.
Only one of the six teams that won 100 games, the 1970 Orioles, with 108 wins, won the World Series.
The 1966 Orioles, their first World Series title, won 97, and the 1983 team, their most recent championship, were 98-64.
From 1969-1971, the Orioles won 109, 108 and 101 games, the only time the franchise has had successive 100-plus win seasons.
It will be quite an accomplishment if the Orioles win 100 or more in 2024.
They took advantage of a weak year in the AL East
Even though three AL East teams — the Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays — qualified for the playoffs, the longtime powers of the division, the Yankees and Red Sox, had down years.
New York was 82-80, down 17 games from 2022, and their win total was the lowest in a full season since they were 76-86 in 1992, Buck Showalter’s first season as a major league manager.
Boston was 78-84 for the second straight season. It was the first time since 2014 that the Yankees and Red Sox both failed to make the postseason.
It was also the first time since 2014 that the Orioles won season series over each of the other four AL East teams.
Attendance was up
One of the byproducts of the Orioles’ better record was their attendance. They drew 1,936,798, up nearly 42 percent from last year.
Attendance should rise again in 2024 since many fans bought season-ticket plans to secure postseason tickets.
While the Orioles were only 21st in the major leagues in attendance, they beat out the Washington Nationals for the first time since 2007.
Orioles attendance and Major League Baseball’s was its highest since 2017.
A new generation of fans discovered the Orioles, and executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias pointed that out this week when he was named the MLB’s Executive of the Year.
“It’s been just really gratifying seeing Baltimore, the city of Baltimore and Maryland, back as a baseball capital, like it should be, seeing Camden Yards come alive,” he said in an MLB Network interview.
Elias grew up in Northern Virginia and came to Oriole Park as a youngster because there wasn’t major league baseball in Washington at the time.
“I hope that the city of Baltimore remembers this group for kind of reminding the world, ‘This is Baltimore, and we do baseball here.’”
The new rules benefited the Orioles
Games were quicker around the game because of the pitch clock. Even though the Orioles and Red Sox played a three hour, 40-minute nine-inning game in September, one of just nine that lasted more than 3 ½ hours, the average nine-inning game time fell 24 minutes to two hours, 39 minutes, the lowest since 1985.
Thirteen Oriole games were played in two hours, 20 minutes or less, and on May 1st, the Orioles and Kansas City Royals played a nine-inning game in an hour, 59 minutes.
The rule limiting pickoff attempts and the larger bases helped contribute to 114 stolen bases, the team’s most since 2007, and banning the infield shift allowed the young Orioles infielders to display their athleticism.
Note: The Orioles signed left-handed pitcher Tucker Davidson to a one-year contract. He was claimed off waivers from Kansas City last month.
Call for questions: I’ll be answering Orioles questions next week. Please email yours to: [email protected].