When Baltimore Orioles general manager Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter constructed the 2014 roster, they likely imagined the cornerstone producers — Adam Jones, Chris Davis, and new addition Nelson Cruz — would be the bats carrying them into the postseason.
In all 94 games before the All-Star Break, Joseph, Young, and Lough hit a combined .230 with eight home runs, 31 RBI, 39 runs scored and 5 steals.
In only their last 30 games, that trio is batting a combined .320 with seven home runs, 18 RBI, 15 runs scored, and two steals. Joseph, Young, and Lough are leading the Orioles in some order in batting average, OBP, and OPS during that timeframe.
The production from the bottom of the lineup came while slumps by Cruz (.135), Davis (.178), and Jones (.212) threatened to cripple the club offensively.
Instead, the Orioles fought through the slumps with much improved pitching and the contributions from role players, going 19-9.
One of the most important qualities of good teams is finding several ways to win. Since the All-Star break, the Orioles have shown that even when their biggest bats are quiet, this team can rely on other pieces to keep it competitive.
Despite today’s 8-3 loss to the Cardinals, the Orioles remain 6 games ahead of New York and at least 5 ahead of Toronto for first place the AL East. That is the largest margin between the first and second place teams in any division in baseball. The depth that Duquette and Showalter have created has proven invaluable as pieces like Lough, Joseph, and Young have helped propel the Orioles to their 67-50 record and a probable playoff birth.