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Brandon Hyde was the overwhelming winner as American League Manager of the Year. His 27 first-place votes were the most since 2008 and an endorsement of his work in the regular season.
However, the Orioles’ 101 wins were overshadowed by their loss in three games in the Division Series to the Texas Rangers, and Hyde acknowledged the pain was lasting.
“I think it was a bad few days,” Hyde said at last week’s Winter Meetings. “We weren’t playing our best baseball in the couple of weeks going into the postseason. We had that long layoff. We lost that close game in the first, and then we were out of the game early in the next two, and we got beat by the World Series champion team that was playing extremely well.
“They went into Tampa before us and beat them handily [in] two games and played really well in our series and continued to play well in the next couple of weeks. For our guys to experience that atmosphere, that’s going to be great going forward. I don’t look at it as a whole lot of positives, honestly. It just doesn’t sit well with how it ended.”
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Orioles’ regular season is that they beat four teams that had tormented them in the past — Boston, New York, Tampa Bay and Toronto.
“That’s one thing about our division is that there are four other teams always that have World Series expectations,” Hyde said. “And that’s what you’re competing with year-in, year-out. Now, there’s five teams.
“It feels good to be a part of the group and now coming off winning the division, teams are going to come in, they’re going to get better this offseason. We’ve got to play good baseball next year.”
Experience counts: Hyde will often say that he was a better manager because he had better players, but before he took the Orioles’ job five years ago, he had never managed in the major leagues before. Now, he’s starting his sixth year as Orioles manager.
“Like a player, I think experiences help,” he said. “I think paying attention nightly, and just trying to get better every single year, really every day, analyzing myself and decisions I’ve made, talking it over with people.”
Early in the 2024 season, Hyde will pass Hank Bauer, who managed 726 games, and become the fourth-longest tenured Orioles manager behind Earl Weaver, Buck Showalter and Paul Richards.
“I think you just continue to improve, improve always,” he said. “I’m sure I’ve grown a lot in six years, hopefully continue to grow.”
Westburg’s versatility: Jordan Westburg came up to the Orioles on June 26th and played 68 games. He played twice as much at second than at third.
Overall, Westburg hit .260 with a .715 OPS with three home runs and 23 RBIs.
What stands out is that he hit .311 with an .847 OPS against left-handed starters and just .220 with a .615 OPS against right-handed starters.
Hyde isn’t sure whether he’ll play regularly at second or continue to shuttle between second and third as he did last year.
“That’s one thing that we have is so much versatility with so many of our guys that I think we’ll wait to see how this offseason plays out, what our roster looks like in spring training,” Hyde said. “It’s nice to have so many moveable pieces and talented guys … He can play third base. He can play second base. He can play short if you need it.
“We have quite a few guys like that. I think it’s going to be a mix-and-match. If the season started tomorrow, I think he’d be moving back and forth between two positions. We’ll see where we are in April.”
Elias on when players are ready: At the Winter Meetings, executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said that it’s difficult to know when players are ready to make the jump from the minor leagues to the Orioles.
“Once they get through our minor league system, we know them so well,” he said. “You start to hear different things about their wiring. It’s something that we’ve emphasized quite heavily with our high picks. It seems like we’re doing pretty well with it thus far.
“It’s the hardest factor to measure, but it might be the most important factor for people in either reaching their ceilings or being disappointments. It’s kind of what’s going on between the ears. We do the best that we can with it. We’ve been really lucky with this group. It seems like they’re all so mature and I think it’s a big part of the identity of the team, so we’re going to do the best that we can to keep populating the team with people like that.”
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