The 2013 Baltimore Orioles are receiving public attention like they haven’t in quite some time. After a playoff appearance in 2012, expectations for the Birds are elevated with another year under manager Buck Showalter. However, I’m here to say back-to-back postseason appearances is certainly not out of the question, it just isn’t expected.
If you’re anything like me, you have heard the phrase, “I’d rather be lucky than good”. That was the 2012 Baltimore Orioles. There was no explanation as to how or why the team was good, they just were. With injuries riddling the starting lineup from the get-go, a starting rotation that was never the same week-to-week and a team that was more remembered for it’s negative run differential during a large chunk of the season, there was no formula to figure out why the Orioles were successful.
The one thing this team can attribute it’s success to is it’s resiliency in one-run games and games that went into extras. 29-9 in one-run games and 16-2 when bonus baseball was being played.
That’s a playoff team for you.
Heading into 2013, it would be foolish to expect this team to remotely duplicate that type of success in close ballgames. Hell, the only two teams that performed better than the Birds played baseball over 120 years ago.
For those of you that are Brooklyn Bridegrooms and Cleveland Blues fans, you already knew that.
What the Orioles have heading into this 2013 is a team that is looking to prove the doubters wrong, especially in their hometown. With years of dismal baseball prior to last season, it’s hard not to have that sentiment as a fan. It’s hard to believe that a good season like 2012 wasn’t some sort of fluke. It’s hard to believe that Jason Hammel can be a capable ace of this staff. It’s hard to believe that Brian Roberts can return to his 2009 form. There are so many “what ifs” with this ballclub that it is hard not to remain a skeptical critic.
This team still has questions about fielding a regular lineup. There still remains inconsistency in the starting rotation. Buck believes in this guys and that is a great thing to have in a locker room. Belief can only take a team so far though.
The Orioles are a few breakout players away from being a great baseball team and one major injury away from being a bad one.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, Nick Markakis’ health will greatly determine how far this team goes and whether or not they are playing meaningful baseball in September. You can check out my blog here.
The one player I feel great about heading into this season is third baseman Manny Machado. He continued to display great defense on the hot corner, while showing more plate discipline throughout the spring. If he keeps the strikeouts to a minimum, look out for “Double Ms” at third. If he can become a permanent fixture at the No. 2 spot, look out.
Even though I am saying all of these things, I want the Orioles to be a damn good baseball team. I want the Orioles to prove me wrong. I want them to take the AL East title, especially when the Yankees and Red Sox have the potential to BOTH stink this season. I still have my doubts.
We have all heard that actions speak louder than words. For the 2013 Baltimore Orioles, they will have to show this city that there are two birds in Baltimore.
You can listen to the Weekend Warriors’ predictions for the AL East and the Orioles here or in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault.