For many, there’s only one way to measure the success of a season: the win-loss record. A year ago, the Orioles were 25-35 in the shortened 60-game season, which can be extrapolated to a 67-95 record.
Let’s look beyond the record as spring training approaches.
Did the team improve?
Since we don’t know how the Orioles would have performed in a 162-game season, you would have to say there was improvement.
However, a 95-loss team isn’t one to celebrate. That would be a 20-game improvement over the 115 losses the club had in 2018 and a marginal one from the 108 losses in 2019.
The Orioles began the season 12-8 and stayed in contention for the next third of the season. With 19 games to go, they were 20-21, but they lost 14 of their final 19.
Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias has cautioned that the record isn’t necessarily linear. It would be surprising if the record improved substantially in 2021.
Is the team likely to finish last?
The Orioles didn’t finish last in 2020. They finished in fourth place, the first time they hadn’t been fifth in the American League East since 2016.
The Boston Red Sox finished in fifth, a game behind the Orioles, but left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will be back after missing last season because of Covid-19 and myocarditis. Chris Sale, who underwent Tommy John surgery last March, will be closely monitored as he completes his recovery.
Boston’s newest starter is Garrett Richards, who was healthy last season after 2018 Tommy John surgery.
The other teams — the Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays — should be contenders.
Even though the Rays traded Blake Snell to the San Diego Padres, they still have some good starters. Tyler Glasnow, the recently re-signed Chris Archer, Michael Wacha, Ryan Yarbrough and several promising pitchers will be vying for the fifth spot in the rotation.
The Rays, who rely as much or more on their bullpen as their starters, might not win the East and return to the World Series, but they’re still formidable.
New York saw Masahiro Tanaka return to Japan, and the Yankees replaced him in the rotation with two pitchers who have a recent history of injuries, right-handers Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon.
They still have one of baseball’s best starters, Gerrit Cole, along with Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, Deivi Garcia and Domingo Germán, who was 18-4 in 2019 but missed last season after a suspension for domestic violence.
Toronto added to its core of younger gamers — first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., second baseman Cavan Biggio, shortstop Bo Bichette and left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr with the largest free-agent signing of the winter, proper fielder George Springer.
Springer signed a six-year, $150 million take care of the Blue Jays.
Additionally they have Randal Grichuk, who has terrorized the Orioles. In 40 video games towards the Orioles, Grichuk has 19 house runs, 44 RBIs, a .338 common and a 1.184 OPS.
Final season, Toronto completed seven video games forward of the Orioles for the ultimate playoff spot regardless of taking part in all their video games exterior of Canada. This season, a return to Toronto initially of the season appears problematic due to Covid-19, and so they in all probability can’t play a second season in Buffalo due to scheduling conflicts with their Triple-A membership.
It’s potential the Blue Jays may start the season by taking part in their house video games at their spring coaching house in Dunedin, Florida.
The Orioles don’t have the expertise of the AL East’s prime three groups, and if Sale and Rodriguez come again strongly, holding off the Crimson Sox is unlikely.
How ought to enchancment be measured?
In 2019 when the Orioles misplaced 108 video games, they may level to the profitable seasons of left-hander John Means and proper fielder Anthony Santander.
Final season, Means started poorly, however ended strongly, and Santander was the staff’s Most worthy participant till he suffered an indirect damage and missed the final 23 video games.
The Orioles had another shiny spots. Ryan Mountcastle performed an appropriate left area and hit .333 with an .878 OPS in 35 video games. Austin Hays performed nicely within the outfield and confirmed some punch late within the season after breaking a rib early within the season.
Cedric Mullins, who had an terrible 2019 season that noticed him despatched all the best way to Double-A Bowie, rebounded sharply and performed exceptionally nicely in heart area.
Rookie left-hander Keegan Akin and right-hander Dean Kremer confirmed promise of their late-season begins.
The staff is accumulating helpful items, and there are indicators of enchancment.
When will the document mirror enchancment?
The Orioles gained’t blame the shortage of a minor league season in 2020, but it surely harm them greater than many different groups.
Their prime two prospects from the 2019 draft, catcher Adley Rutschman and shortstop Gunnar Henderson, solely performed on the Bowie alternate web site after transient skilled debuts two years in the past.
Different prime prospects — outfielder Yusniel Diaz and pitchers Michael Baumann, DL Corridor, Zac Lowther, Grayson Rodriguez and Alexander Wells — didn’t pitch competitively.
If a few of these prospects debut efficiently later this season or early subsequent, there will probably be measurable enchancment in 2022.
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