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Nobody’s Picking the Orioles, and That’s OK By Me

orioles angry birdHere’s where I could go through and link all of the various preseason prediction columns/articles I’ve read, but I’ll spare you all that clicking and make it simple: pretty much nobody thinks the Orioles have a chance to repeat their 2012 success. There might be a straggler or an outlier I haven’t seen, but for the most part every “knowledgable” sportswriter seems to think the O’s will spend 2013 more or less where they spent the 14 seasons before 2012.

The arguments are as well-worn as they are predictable.

“They didn’t do anything to improve in the offseason.”

“They can’t repeat their successes in close games.”

“The division’s too strong.”

“They played better last year than they really are.”

This is the time of year when making predictions is what baseball writers are paid to do so I can’t fault ’em for that. All the more reason to not bother calling out specific individuals. What I will say, though, is that the dominant narrative of “The O’s will fall back in 2013” says more about general lack of attention among those who ascribe to it (hey, they’re busy!) than it does about any real assessment of the team’s chances.

Let’s take the main points one-by-one.

Not enough offseason action. It’s true that Dan Duquette didn’t make any major moves. So? To presume that lack of action is failure is to presume that smartly standing pat isn’t a calculated move in itself. I can’t think of a single free agent I’m bummed we didn’t get. Can you? If so, why? Josh Hamilton is an overpaid head case and Zach Greinke is a pitcher, which by definition means that the back end of his contract will be a problem for the Dodgers. He’ll be 34 years old and making $24 million in 2018. Think about that.

Bottom line is that you should pretty much never award high-dollar, long-term deals to players past, say, 25 or 26. Look at the Yankees with Teixeira and Rodriguez. Examples abound.

Making a move isn’t the same thing as making a smart move.

They can’t repeat last season’s successes. It’s true that last year’s team had some crazy weird numbers. 29-9 in one run games, 16-2 in extra innings. 18-9 in August and 19-9 in September. Surely, those numbers are unlikely to repeat. And yet it’s also unlikely that a winning team bringing back its nucleus, including at least one potential superstar in his first full season (Manny Machado), will suddenly fall apart. Even 10 more losses than last year would leave them at 83-79. A collapse could happen, but it seems far from likely.

The division’s too strong. Yeah, the Blue Jays improved on paper. Winning the offseason doesn’t count. As for everyone else, I see the O’s as their equals at least. Not necessarily demonstrably better but by no means demonstrably worse.

They played better than they really are. This is really the crux of things, although not everyone comes out and says it. The idea is that last year was a fluke, and this year will be a correction.

Well, consider this: the correction doesn’t necessarily work on a year-to-year timeframe. What we are, in fact, potentially witnessing is the actual correction, which is that the O’s are on the upswing to correct for so many years of bad play. It’s hard to stay bad for as long as the O’s did, and they’ve been due to fix that for awhile. With a top-notch manager in place and a wealth of talent across the lineup, why would another year of +.500 ball be out of the question?

Answer: +.500 ball is not out of the question. Contending for the division and/or the playoffs is not out of the question.

Will it happen? Maybe not. But it’s not nearly as far-fetched as lazy observers from afar would like to suggest it is.

Spring training’s here, folks. Ain’t the beer cold?

3 comments to Nobody’s Picking the Orioles, and That’s OK By Me

  • dan the man

    My O’s 2013 slogan: We got this, y’all.


    Things I don’t buy:
    1. Nolan is injury prone. (Achilles, neck injuries were both freak occurrences.)
    2. Nate will fall back to earth because he only played well for 2 months. (So let’s just throw those years he was great?)
    3. Davis can’t play 1B. (At the end of the day, the numbers will probably say he’s just as good as Reynolds, and if he’s a hair worse, no big deal.)

  • “Not enough offseason action.” What was it Bill Veeck said? “Sometimes, the best trades are the ones you don’t make. A New York Daily News writer made a similar point about the Yankees: Their moves, basically consolidating what they already had (though messing up their catching situation), made their offseason NOT a failure.

    “They can’t repeat last season’s success.” As Yogi Berra might say, we won’t know until we know.

    “The division’s too strong.” I don’t think so. The Yankees will always be postseason contenders. But the Red Sox have collapsed and barely begun to rebuild. The Rays keep losing key players and can’t stay up forever. And the Jays’ improvement has raised them from terrible to mediocre: Getting 3 good starting pitchers gives them a total of 3, and they still don’t field or hit well enough.

    “They played better than they really are.” I agree, but that may not make a difference. To make the Playoffs, the O’s don’t HAVE to finish ahead of the Yankees, just ahead of all but one team that doesn’t win their division. The ’12 O’s won 93 games; if they drop 5 games in ’13, winning “only” 88, that’s as many as the Cardinals won last season, and it was enough to get the NL’s 2nd Wild Card spot. How do we know that won’t be enough to get the AL’s 2nd (or even 1st) Wild Card spot in 2013?

    Things are still looking up for Baltimore sports, with the O’s apparently on the rise, the Ravens having just won a title, and rumors abounding that a new arena might get built that could lure the NBA back after 40 years.

  • g

    The beer is always colder under the radar. Let’s Go O’s!!!!!