This is the 11th of 12 posts on the season past, being personal reflection upon a variety of items I wrote since last winter. This post and the finale in two days are not really about dumb and smart, they are more just a few interesting observations that popped up along the way.
Regarding the anticipation of a final record for the season…
I wrote on 2/16 … I don’t always agree with every move Showalter makes – especially with relievers. But I have less criticism of him than any of his predecessors. He is a good baseball guy. A failure to thrive will not be able to be credited to his account. I saw on another blog or web page that in each of his three previous positions as manager, his teams made incredible quantum leaps forward in his second full season at the helm. Can lightening strike a fourth time in the same spot? It is only a 12 win improvement to get to .500 … and that would surely be deemed a legitimately successful season.
Wow! Back in February it was an exciting prospect to anticipate simply seeing the Orioles get to a win total of 81 games, let alone the 93 of the final record! And indeed, it turned out to be true again that Showalter made a quantum leap in wins in his second full season with a team – for the fourth time!
I wrote on 6/26 – There are 90 games yet to be played in this season … much can happen. But at least for now, the Orioles are in the thick of it … but it is thick! If we assume that the Rangers and Yankees will win their divisions, it would appear that for the Orioles to make one of the two wildcard berths, they will either have to finish 2nd in the division (most likely beating Tampa Bay) or finish third with a better record than the best 2nd place team in the central or west. It could be successfully argued that the Orioles, bottom line, need to have a better record than the Angels.
As it turned out, the Orioles did have to beat the Angels, yes … though the team that surprised everyone was Oakland. The Angels were a disappointment, and the way the Rangers finished the season was surely very sad for Texas fans.
I wrote on 7/29 – So here we are with 102 games in the book and a record of 53-49. What might we reasonably hope for now as a final win total? Looking back to the past two years of the Showalter administration, the team was 27-33 last year and 34-26 in 2010 over the final 60 games. This would seem to portend a finish with a win total in the low 80s, probably falling short of the playoffs.
It was just after this time that Manny Machado joined the team and seemed to be the arrival of a missing link … or sort of like the domino that set off the positive fall of a string of others. Along with Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez turning in consistent strong starts, the team was able to win 40 of the final 60 games! That is extraordinary! And certainly they needed to, as just a couple fewer wins would not have gotten them into the playoffs.