Looking back over the last decade, and how the Orioles can improve in the 20s
What a long, strange trip the last 10 years have been for the Baltimore Orioles. They started badly, and they ended even worse; but in between, we saw a brief turnaround in Baltimore’s fortunes that many hoped would be a permanent renaissance. You won’t find the Fox bet sportsbook PA offering good odds on the Orioles making a strong comeback in 2020 either. However, the Birds are looking at the long game, and it’s entirely possible that the team in 2025 or 2030 will be unrecognizable from the sorry state we see right now.
The noughties had been a dire decade for the once-proud Orioles, their golden years in the 1970s a lifetime past. April 12th, 2010 saw the lowest ever paid attendance in Camden Yards history, when just 9,129 fans turned out to see the Orioles go up against the Tampa Bay Rays.
It was time for a change, and Dave Trembley was replaced as manager by Buck Showalter (after third-base coach Juan Samuel stood in for a few weeks over the summer). Things started to improve straight away, and the Orioles finished out the season with a 66-96 record – by no means impressive, but marginally better than 64-98 in 2009, and seeming to buck what had been a five-year downward trend.
2011 saw the Orioles sign Vladimir Guerrero as designated hitter, and they finished the season 69-93. A highlight was the 4-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox on September 28th, one of the most dramatic games in MLB history thanks to the amazing performances of Nolan Reimold and Robert Andino.
Things really started to change for the better in 2012 with the Orioles’ first winning season since 1997. The Birds finished the regular season with a 93-69 record, second place in the American League East, won a playoff berth and went on to the American League Division Series. They lost in five games, but things were definitely looking up.
In 2013, Chris Davis set a new MLB record, with 16 RBIs during his first four games. He was also only the fourth player in league history to hit home runs in all of those first four games, including a grand slam in the fourth one. He finished the season with 53 home runs, the most in the Orioles’ history. The Orioles played 119 games without an error and finished the season with a very decent 85-77 record.
Everything was set up for 2014, when a regular-season record of 96-66 saw them go through to the Division Series. They won for the first time since 1997, going on to the American League Championship Series, where they were defeated by the Kansas City Royals.
2015 should have been the Orioles’ year, but instead it found them treading water, stalling with an 81-81 record at the end of the season. Davis won the MLB home run championship with 47 home runs, the third consecutive year in which the title was won by an Oriole, but the team was eliminated from the division race early on.
In 2016, an 89-73 record saw the Orioles advance to the playoffs on the last day of the season, where they lost to the Toronto Blue Jays in the Wild Card game. Unfortunately, 2017 saw them back on a losing streak with a 75-87 record, their worst since 2011. After finishing 2018 47-115, the worst season record in the history of the franchise, they decided to let both Showalter and GM Dan Duquette go.
With new manager Brandon Hyde at the helm, 2019 was all about rebuilding. On paper, it may not have been much of an improvement on the previous season, with a 54-108 record, but the difference was that in 2019, the Orioles’ focus wasn’t on winning. The season was all about breaking in a new, untested roster of young players and setting down solid foundations for the future.
It was painful to watch, however. The Orioles lost over 100 games in two consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history, and they were the first team ever to allow 300 home runs in one season. They watched as regional rivals the Washington Nationals won the World Series, and the final irony was that they didn’t even end up with first draft pick in 2020. That went to the Detroit Tigers, who had the dubious honor of an even worse season than the Orioles, ending with a 47-114 record.
It may get worse before it gets better. However, Hanser Alberto and Rio Ruiz have shored up the Orioles’ defense, while Anthony Santander, John Means and Hunter Harvey look to be key players for several seasons to come. With plenty of new, untried talent coming on board, the Orioles have hopefully turned a corner. The best is yet to come.