Baltimore Orioles: May Report Card
For the first time in what seems like decades, the Baltimore Orioles are in first place at the end of May.
The team is currently 29-22 and went 15-13 over the course of the month. That being said, despite playing winning baseball for the majority of the last four weeks, the O's find themselves reeling after losing their final five games in May.
One must not overreact to Baltimore's recent skid, just as one shouldn't overreact to the two five-game win streaks that the O's have put together this season.
Even though the Orioles got away from the formula that helped them climb to the top of the AL East standings as the month came to a close, they don't get graded too harshly in this month's report card.
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The Orioles had a pretty productive month at the plate. Their team OPS was .763 during May, which is up from the .731 they produced as a team in April.
Injuries and Matt Wieters' slump make the Orioles' production at the plate impressive.
The O's also hit 45 bombs during the month and were among the league leaders in slugging percentage as a squad.
However, the O's just lost steady producer Nick Markakis to injury, which means it will be tough for the team to maintain their production throughout June from an offensive standpoint.
The Orioles won 15 games in May to give them consecutive winning months to start the season, and the offensive production was the primary reason for the success.
May Grade: B+
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Defense has never been the focus for this O's team, which tries to fit as much power into the lineup as possible. However, this month was not nearly as miserable as April was for Baltimore from a defensive standpoint.
The Orioles still need to improve greatly on the defensive side of the ball, but this team is never going to lead the world in fielding efficiency.
Instead, the O's lean on being defensively sound up the middle with Matt Wieters behind the plate, Adam Jones in center and J.J. Hardy at shortstop. All three are Gold Glove candidates and help clean up a lot of the O's defensive problems.
May Grade: B
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The dominant starting pitching that carried the O's to the front of the standings fell off towards the end of May.
Pitchers Jake Arrieta and Tommy Hunter have struggled mightily. Meanwhile, Brian Matusz has found himself.
Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen weren't as great as they were in April, but they still were productive more often than not for Baltimore this past month.
Elsewhere, things could be looking up as Zach Britton appears close to a big league return.
That being said, the O's May grade reflects the 4.16 team ERA they posted over the course of the month.
May Grade: C+
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The bullpen continues to be a strong point for the Orioles, but they have not been lights out like they were in April.
Part of that can be blamed on the starters not going as deep into games as they did to start the year. However, the fact is, the O's bullpen wasn't going to be able to sustain the statistical production they had in April, no matter how the starters performed.
Closer Jim Johnson has continued to stand out, while other key contributors like Luis Ayala, Pedro Strop and Darren O'Day have been consistent to this point.
Even Kevin Gregg was able to give the O's some quality innings.
Meanwhile, Matt Lindstrom was lost for most of the month and is yet to return for the Orioles. Once he can return, the O's pen will hopefully be able to return to the absolute dominance they showed in April.
May Grade: B+
Final May Report Card
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Starting Pitching: C+
Final May Grade: B-
2012 GPA: 3.03
If the O's had been able to avoid dropping the final five games they played in May, perhaps they would have made it out with a better mark for this month. Instead, they went from having a great month to an okay month.
Two months into the season, the Orioles have a GPA of 3.03, which is conclusive with their record of 29-22.