As I non-biased Orioles fan (most of the time), I knew how bad the Orioles were in the previous 5 seasons until this year. And it wasn’t just mediocre baseball. It was flat out, disgusting baseball! In the previous 5 seasons before this year (from 2017-2021), the Orioles had finished last in the MLB once, 2nd twice and finished in the bottom 10 in all 5 of those years. Yet, this disgraceful, awful baseball team for 5 seasons has now won 8 games in a row, putting themselves 2 games back of the Wild Card! This is a jump no one expected…besides me! I predicted that this team, with Adley Rutschman, Trey Mancini, Cedric Mullins and Ryan Mountcastle would take large steps in the right direction. This is why the Baltimore Orioles have had such success this season, even though no one predicted it or has thought about it!
First of all, the Orioles don’t get the recognition they deserve. The reason for this is because they’re in the toughest division in all of baseball. The Yankees have been amazing, and the Red Sox, Blue Jays and Rays all control a wild card position at this current moment. So, the Orioles being 2 games back from the Wild Card, puts them last in the AL East. But the crazy part is, if you look at the National League wild card race, the team that is 2 games back from the wild card is the San Francisco Giants, who have just a slightly better winning percentage than Baltimore with only two teams in their division with a better record compared to Baltimore’s 4. So the fact that the Orioles are having this much success, in the best division in baseball is unbelievable.
But, how are they getting this success when last season they were a 52 win team, which ranked them 2nd worst in the MLB? Well, of course you have to put up a lot of runs. However, the Orioles top hitters like Trey Mancini, Austin Hays and Cedric Mullins are batting .284, .264 and .258 respectively. Even the top prospect in all of baseball, Adley Rutschman, is batting just .221! But, the key to their success has been their pitching. I know, it sounds crazy since this was the team that ranked dead last in ERA last season.
But they have had some really good pitchers this year. Starting off with the starters, the best has been Dean Kremer, who has put on a master class this season. Kremer has 2.15 ERA in 7 games with a 75% winning percentage! That’s amazing! While he wasn’t going to make the All Star team since he only played 7 games, was he deserving of it? Let’s compare him to a great pitcher, even if a little overpaid, Gerrit Cole. Cole made the All Star team for the 5th time in his career this season. He did this with a 3.26 ERA and an 80% winning percentage. He also has been better getting the ball in the zone for strikes more frequently. Even though it’s by a very tiny amount, Kremer has also been better than Cole in Bases on Balls/Walks. While Cole has played 10 more games than Kremer, are we really saying he’s been better than him this season?
Even look at Tyler Wells, who we can rank evenly. Wells has also has played 17 games but with a 3.28 ERA, which is basically the same as Cole’s. However, he ranks basically the same in home runs allowed per inning as well (no pun intended). So, while people will hold Wells back for his 63.6% winning percentage compared to Cole’s 80%, the Yankees are also a much better offensive team than the Orioles, meaning Cole’s wins don’t show as much value as Wells’.
But, it hasn’t been the starting pitchers that has made Baltimore’s pitching so amazing. It has been their bullpen. First of all, Jorge Lopez just made his 1st all star appearance, with a 1.74 ERA in 41.1 innings pitched. It was great to see Lopez get that All Star nod considering the ups and downs he has had in his career. He started 25 of the 33 games he played last season and had a 6.07 ERA. With some great managing and coaching, Lopez has found himself in the right spot as a reliever and a closer in the MLB and has made his deserving 1st All Star selection.
It hasn’t just been Lopez either. It’s been the entire bullpen! They have 4 pitchers in the top 20 in ERA for relievers in the AL. Those pitchers include Lopez (7th), Felix Bautista (8th), Keegan Akin (16th) and Joey Krehbiel (19th) with ERA’s at 1.74, 1.77, 2.31 and 2.35 respectively. That also doesn’t include Dillon Tate, who just missed this cut at a 2.61 ERA. Another pitcher that goes under the radar for Baltimore is Cionel Perez, with his 0.96 ERA, even though he’s only pitched just 28 innings. You get the point, Baltimore’s bullpen has bene amazing!
While Rutschman is only batting .221, he has made such a big impact on this team and the success they have had. To begin the season, Baltimore had a -32 run differential in their first 40 games, which were all without Rutschman. Since Rutschman has came on board on May 21st, Baltimore has a run differential of positive 18. Coincidence? I don’t think so! The Orioles also are 7 games above .500 since Rutschman joined the team. That would rank put them 1 game back from the top wild card spot!
Something crazy to talk about is the Orioles improvement. Just a little over half way through the season and the Orioles are 9 wins away from tying the record they had last season. The way that they have been playing, Brandon Hyde is in major discussions for manager of the year. The way Baltimore has consistently dominated since Rutschman has came on board is unbelievable. And I’m so happy that the Orioles are back. When something magic happens, every time you go. You make the magic happen, the magic of Orioles baseball!