The Baltimore Orioles are a nice surprise for the first half of the 2022 MLB season. They have some young and exciting players to go along with their veterans, who communicate with the younger players and guide them on how to play the game. Their manager Brandon Hyde has brought a winning culture with his style of managing and it is finally showing.
Last Five Seasons
Over the last five seasons, the Orioles have had an MLB-worst 253-455 record. They lost at least 108 games in three of those five seasons. They were predicted to win only between 63 and 68 games this season. Now, however, the outlook has them winning 76 to 79 games—and that is in the competitive AL East where the other four teams are over .500 and all are playing sound baseball.
Manager Brandon Hyde
Manager Brandon Hyde is a main reason why they are playing good baseball. He created a fun and energetic clubhouse and makes sure all players get along. That is a good style for the manager of a rebuilding team. A “losing” mindset of play has been with this organization for a long time and it has been a difficult time for everyone, especially the Orioles fans. Brandon Hyde is changing that mindset.
A good manager cannot make a pitcher have a 3.00 ERA or better; nor can he make him pitch better. He cannot make a closer get that all-important save or make a hitter bat .300 or get that walk-off hit. What a good manager can do—and what Hyde is doing—is make sure his players are prepared for those stressful situations in which a player can find himself throughout a game. He makes sure they are the best team mentally, physically, and fundamentally when the game is on the line. Doing that eases the stress and relaxes the players, allowing them to do what they do best.
The Baltimore Orioles are a nice surprise and they have a different attitude. They know they can win the close games now and they can come back and win a slugfest. They have a positive frame of mind and are becoming relevant and in the minds of casual Orioles fans who are seeing lately that win or lose, they are certainly fun to watch.
The Baltimore Orioles are a nice surprise and we must mention their bullpen. The bullpen had a 5.70 ERA a year ago, last in the American League. Through Sunday’s game, they are ranked fifth in all of baseball. They have a top-notch closer in Jorge López. Once a journeyman starter, López has found success as a closer. He appears to love and thrive on the challenge of getting the save. We know that he has the confidence of Hyde and his team.
The bullpen arms behind him have also been outstanding. Five of the nine relievers are still considered rookies, Bryan Baker, Félix Bautista, Logan Gillaspie, Joey Krehbiel, and Nick Vespi. The other four relievers, Keegan Akin, Cionel Pérez, and Dillon Tate, along with López, have some experience, though, other than Pérez none have been on a winning team.
Putting It together
Since June 1, the Orioles own a 21-14 record—eighth-best in baseball over that span—and are 43-44 through Sunday’s games. They are coming off their first winning month in five years and have improved their winning percentage each month this season. They also are 8-2 in their last ten games and are eight games over .500 at home.
Best Last Place Team
The Baltimore Orioles are a nice surprise—and can we say they are the best last-place team in baseball? They have eight walk-off wins, something they have been missing the past five years. The team has the number-one prospect in baseball in catcher Adley Rutschman. He is learning the game quickly and playing pretty well while doing it. And, he is certainly becoming a vocal leader on this team.
Wild Card Race
The American League Wild Card is wide open with only a few games currently separating the Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox, and Toronto Blue Jays. Yes, there are several other teams in the mix for those three Wild Card spots, but none have been as consistent in the first half of the season as the AL East teams. The question is, do the Baltimore Orioles have a shot at the American League Wild Card slot?
Second Half of Season
The Baltimore Orioles are a nice surprise. Keep a close watch on this Orioles team for the remainder of July to see how they will handle the trade deadline. If they are still hovering around .500, GM Mike Elias will have some decisions to make. Does he keep the team the way it is, hoping for the best, but looking to the future, or make trades to acquire veterans for a more traditional Wild Card push? Or, does he trade a few veterans to obtain some more young talent—again, looking toward the future?
Time will tell but right now, this Orioles team is fun to watch as they get better and better. They’re one of the biggest surprises in MLB this season and their fans are loving it. It’s going to be an interesting end to this season, but win or lose the Orioles’ future is looking bright.