The Baltimore Orioles haven’t been good for several years now. The last time they reached the playoffs was 2016. The last time they reached the ALCS, they got swept by the Royals and they’ve finished last in their division in four of the last five seasons.
Being in the tough AL East doesn’t help. Baltimore isn’t playing particularly poorly in 2022, sitting at 35-40, the best of any last place team in MLB this year. Hell, that win percentage (.467) is better than every other fourth-place team in MLB as well. It’s been a long, arduous road filled with heartache, disappointment, and players calling Camden Yards a joke, but by golly, the Orioles just accomplished something they haven’t done in almost five years: winning more games than they lost in a calendar month.
Yesterday, the Orioles won their game in Seattle, 9-2. That win pushed their record in June to 14-10. With only two games left this month, the Orioles have officially clinched their first winning month since August 2017! Rejoice Baltimore! The Orioles might not be flying high, but at least their feet are off the ground!
Is it a hollow victory? Yes, but it shows that the team is moving in the right direction. I mean, you’d expect as much given all the talent they’ve acquired over the years via trades and the draft, but nobody thought it would happen this year. Sure, Adley Rutschman made his long-awaited debut in late May, but he hasn’t set the world on fire. His OPS+ currently sits at 107, good but not great. Cedric Mullins certainly hasn’t been the same player he was in 2021. Everybody just sort of expected the Orioles to roll over and focus on rebuilding again in 2021, especially with John Means sidelined for so long.
But they really aren’t. Despite massive interest from several teams, the Orioles apparently have no interest in trading anymore of their star players, aside from maybe Trey Mancini, but he’s also one of the oldest players on the team’s roster and will be the most expensive player on the Orioles’ payroll not named Chris Davis in 2023. Boy, that’s still tough to hear.
Do the Orioles have a shot at the playoffs this year? Hell no! However, it’s nice to see a team with zero championship aspirations actually go for it. We’ve become so used to seeing teams sell the farm to keep reloading on prospects. It’s one of MLB’s biggest problems. At the start of the season, there are only about twelve teams that really have a shot at a World Series title. Everybody knows this so the teams that don’t have a shot have no reason to try to compete other than to see if they can get prospects out of some of their better, older players with expiring contracts. Sure, occasionally a team will emerge from the depths out of nowhere to make a playoff run, but those are outliers. I mean there is literally only one team in MLB this year above .500 who went under .500 last season, the Minnesota Twins. That’s it. The other teams know they can’t win a title, so they make like Oakland or Cincinnati and sell off all their best players to fuel their endless cycle of rebuilding.
But not the Orioles. They march into the daunting AL East head-on, bracing for impact, but welcoming it. You can’t help but root for them. Who doesn’t want to see the birds take down the Yankees or Red Sox? Who doesn’t want to see a ragtag group of twenty-something year olds have fun playing the best baseball their team has seen in years? Who doesn’t want to see the Orioles move their fences back in order to prevent home runs and see it work?!
The Orioles have been making money moves for a while now, and I think it’s time we start giving them a little credit. Maybe not respect just yet, but credit where credit’s due.