The Los Angeles Dodgers have a 103-46 record, the Seattle Mariners are about to break a 21-year playoff drought, and the New York Mets are returning to the postseason for the first time since 2016.
Yet, there is a good chance that if MLB conducted a poll to select the “Team of the Year,” the Baltimore Orioles would be at or near the top.
With a 52-110 record last year, the Orioles seemed years away from contending.
They were also 25-35 in the pandemic season and 54-108 the year before that.
You can’t blame us all for thinking 2022 would be more of the same, right?
The Orioles’ player development, especially on the pitching side, improved considerably, and they produced several spectacular relievers such as Felix Bautista, Dillon Tate, and Jorge Lopez, with Lopez traded to the Minnesota Twins to replenish the prospect stock.
Rutschman Came In To Change The Franchise
And, of course, Adley Rutschman came in May and has produced 4.4 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) as of Thursday.
It’s hard to think about a more impactful player in baseball than him: the O’s were 16-24 when he was called up, and they are now 77-71.
Those 77 wins are a sizable improvement over last season.
In fact, if we combine Baltimore’s 2020 and 2021 wins total, what do we get?
“Orioles in 2020 and 2021 combined: 77 wins. Orioles in 2022: 77 wins,” Orioles writer Matt Kremnitzer tweeted.
Orioles in 2020 and 2021 combined: 77 wins
Orioles in 2022: 77 wins
— Matt Kremnitzer (@mattkremnitzer) September 22, 2022
That’s one of the most incredible franchise turnarounds you will ever see.
After being left for dead for years, the O’s still have a mathematical chance to make the playoffs this year, even if it is unlikely.
However, the 2023 season could be extremely fun with Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Ryan Mountcastle, Tate, Bautista, DL Hall, Grayson Rodriguez, and other young studs.
It’s a great time to be an Orioles fan.