After winning the final two games of the first half in Minnesota, the Orioles have hit the break at 42-46 and 7.5-games behind the Boston Red Sox for first place in the AL East. After starting out the season with an MLB-best 22-10 record, things have not gone exactly as planned and the Orioles have taken their fair share of bumps and bruises along the way.
However, the Orioles are just four games out of the playoff picture…and there are still 74 games left to play. Even if you doubt that the Orioles can sustain a legitimate playoff push, you have to admit that there is more than plenty of time to turn things around. Nothing is impossible with this squad, and they’d love to prove the naysayers wrong. Again.
But before we spark the debate on the fate of the 2017 Orioles, let’s take a look back and grade the Orioles first as a unit, and then individually, before they get the ball rolling again versus the Cubbies on Friday.
One of baseball’s most feared offenses in 2016, the “Birdland Power Company” hasn’t been able to keep the power on at all times this season and finished the first half ranked 11th in the AL in scoring (4.45 runs per game). While their 123 home runs rank sixth in the AL and a decent .254 batting average is tied for eighth, the positives stop there.
For as many times that their free-swinging, all-or-nothing approach has hit the jackpot, there have been just as many busts. As a result, they rank 14th in the AL in OBP (.308) and walks (220), 11th in OPS (.734), and fourth in K’s (779).
Also, despite having plenty of athleticism and speed on the team, their 18 stolen bases rank dead last in the AL.
After ranking as the AL’s fourth-best defensive team in 2016, the third-best in 2014, and the very best in 2013 and 2015, the Orioles finished the first half of 2017 ranked seventh with a .984 fielding percentage and are on pace to finish outside of the top five for the first time since 2012.
Like the defense, the Orioles relievers haven’t hit their normal excellence this season. After ranking as the third-best bullpen in the AL in 2012, 2014 and 2015 and the very best in 2016, the O’s bullpen finished the first half of 2017 ranked eighth with a 4.11 ERA. Throwing a league-high 326 innings so far coupled with the absence of star closer Zach Britton hasn’t helped things. It still doesn’t take away the fact that they own the third-worst BAA (.264), the fourth-worst OBP (.335) and the fifth-worst WHIP (1.39) in the American League while allowing the second-most home runs (47).
Well folks, we saved the worst for last. Outside of Dylan Bundy‘s early-season heroics and an occasional flash from Kevin Gausman and Ubaldo Jimenez, the starting pitching has been absolutely dreadful during the current campaign.
The Orioles starting rotation ranks 13th in the American League in wins (25) and third in losses (36). That only begins to scratch the surface. They rank dead last in the AL in WHIP (1.61), OBP (.364), BAA (.290), innings pitched (456 2/3) and ERA (5.75) along with recording the second-fewest amount of quality starts (32).
Long story short, it’s been a horror show.