The Baltimore Orioles have started 2013 a bit slower than they did 2012, albeit better than they did many of the preceding 14 years. Do any members of the fan base not recall 2010 when they were expected to improve by leaps and bounds, only to begin the season at 2-16? Now at 7-7, the O’s find themselves at .500; they were only at that spot twice in 2012: on opening day, and after six games (3-3). So here’s the question; are the 2013 Orioles in trouble?
If you’re concerned about their record, you shouldn’t be. Last year after 14 games, the O’s were 8-6. Furthermore the entire division appears to be bunched together fairly close in the standings. However I think that a few things which are standing out to fans is how the games are unfolding. In 2012 the five starting pitchers that are in the Orioles’ rotation right now (Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Wei-Yin Chen, Jake Arrieta, and Jason Hammel) averaged 6.78 innings pitched. Thus far in 2013, they’re averaging approximately 5.52 innings pitched.
In fairness those 2012 numbers are over the course of an entire season, whereas we’ve only gone through the rotation three times at this point. However the trend is that the starters aren’t going as deep into games. If the 2013 Orioles are going to have a similar level of success as the 2012 Orioles, that number is going to have to start going up. We’ve seen some questionable plays in the field that we didn’t see in 2012. We aren’t always seeing the same clutch hits that we saw last year. So again…does this mean that the season is doomed?
What it means is that 2013 and 2012 are different. Again, I can’t stress enough that the pitching statistics I gave above are less than a month as opposed to an entire season. However it’s also fair to say that there isn’t the same novelty with these Birds that there was in 2012. From the outset of the season most pundits said that the O’s had no chance of reclaiming their 29-9 record from 2012 in one-run games. Be that as it may, many of them also agreed that the O’s would have to find other ways to win games. And I feel that in many ways they have; late-inning heroics at Fenway, gold glove defensive plays at the hot corner, and Matt Wieters not allowing runners to steal bases would fall into that category. Chris Davis beginning the season by mashing everything in sight does as well.
It’s also fair to look at the schedule that the O’s have played thus far. With a few exceptions, most teams in most divisions are going to be bunched together fairly closely at this point. After tonight’s game has been completed the O’s will have played 15 games, 12 of which have been in the American League East. If the O’s were to win tonight, they will have lost exactly one of those division series’. If they lose, they’ll have lost two. In 2012 the O’s played six of their first 15 games in the division. Ultimately you’re going to play each of these teams the same amount of times, and the same amount of times that other teams play their division foes in fact. However before the season started all analysts were saying that the AL East was the toughest division to predict; so with that said is it really that unpredictable that the Orioles would be at or near .500?
The one thing that 2012 and what we’ve seen of 2013 have in common is that there’s nothing that the Orioles can do to change any of what’s happened. The first 15 games of 2013 are in the books as much as is the 2012 season. But what the O’s can control is how things progress from this point onward. Perhaps the starters need to start pitching more to contact as they were in 2012, and the other eight players on the field need to shore up their mechanics just a bit. They say that you can’t win a pennant in April, however you can in fact lose one. If you look at their 7-7 record and at how the rest of their division is currently stacked up, the 2013 Orioles haven’t lost anything yet.