Baltimore Orioles: Surprising? Yeah, a Little

Brian MarkhamCorrespondent IApril 16, 2008

Fast-forward through spring training, three opening days, Rich Harden staying off and then going on the DL and then you’ve arrived to today. Did I miss anything? Oh yes; the Orioles surprisingly hot start.

As I write this today, the Birds sit at 8 - 6, second place in the AL East behind the Red Sox. A week ago they had the best record in the majors at 6 - 1. Since then, they’ve gone 2 - 5 (obviously) and are no longer the darlings of XM Radio “biggest surprises of the early season” conversation. Still, as an Oriole fan, you’ve got to be encouraged by the positive start. The Orioles were picked to be not just last in the AL East but also one of the worst teams in the majors. So what’s going on? Does this tell us anything about the way the rest of the season will play out?

Answer: probably not.

Here’s the good news though sports fans: this is a new Orioles team. This is not the team that every year strives to win 82 games with a mix of AAA players, veterans, and a few All-Stars. This is that same combination only with NO expectations. They are expected by everyone to suck, except themselves and their manager. This is the key difference. Dave Trembley has this team playing the right way. They will eventually be limited by their on the field talent but for now the recipe is simple. Play hard, play right, play to win. This creed has been missing from Oriole teams of the last decade and that is why there are reasons to hope that this is the beginning of something very positive.

Some key stats to throw out there (all rankings are AL-only and out of 14):

13th in ERA (yikes)

5th in BB Allowed (1st being the most BB allowed)

7th in Team Batting and Runs Scored

Lots of room for improvement. Here is a reason though to feel optimistic though.

2007 Record:

Vs. AL East: 34 - 38

Vs. AL Central: 16 - 19

Vs. AL West: 13 - 24

Vs. NL Teams: 6 - 12

Why have we had such a crappy record? The abysmal play against the AL West and NL teams during interleague play. A sub-.500 record is never good, but 34 - 38 against the AL East isn’t terrible considering they play the Red Sox and Yankees 40 times over the course of a season. A bump in the win column has to come from playing better OUTSIDE the division and outside the AL. If these things can happen, I think we might actually see an increase in wins over last season. That’s a big “if” and of course we have to continue to play almost .500 ball vs. the east and central. This is why that four game sweep of Seattle was so key - that NEVER would have happened last year. The trick is to keep it up.