The Search for Consistency
Many Orioles writers and bloggers are these days writing about how the team needs to find some measure of consistency. An example of a frequent comment either written in some media source or spoken on a broadcast is some version of this: “So will the real Orioles team please stand up – the one we saw today (Sunday) with solid starting pitching, good relief, and sufficiently timely hitting; or the one we saw yesterday and in several recent blowouts with lifeless hitting and pitches left high in the strike zone?”
I suppose the answer is that the Orioles are both of these teams at the same time. I’ve often stated that the Birds have a corporate case of multiple personality disorder, and as with a person who suffers from this malady, what you get depends from day to day upon which personality is “out in front.” And of course, some of it is simply the nature of baseball – a sport that beyond all others is one where there will be many highs and many lows over the course of a season, even for a good team. This is why it takes 162 games to sort out who are the best teams.
I am encouraged by conversations with Orioles fans – especially those who are a bit more marginal in their interests – to hear most acknowledging that though there is much room yet for improvement, things are surely better than they have been in recent memory.
In the search for consistency, I’ve pondered how much the Orioles’ struggle for such is the byproduct of this season so wrought with injuries and varied roster moves. A little research indicates that the Orioles have had a total of 46 players take the field in orange and black this year. That strikes me as an extraordinarily high number (24 position players and 22 pitchers). Compared to the rest of the AL, it is high – though not as ridiculously more as I expected to see. The only team with more is the Blue Jays with 47 (19/28), while the Red Sox also have 46 (25/21). And of course we know that these teams have also had an unusual number of injuries this season. Compare these numbers to the Rangers – who have only used a total of 35 players. Strangely enough, the Mariners have used the least – only 34 – but perhaps they simply don’t have the organizational resources of personnel to be making many moves, along with a commitment to younger player development.
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.
There are still a lot of interesting storylines to write over the next two months of this season. And there will be even more to sort out over the winter and into the beginnings of 2013. And though losses like the Friday night 9th-inning disaster are difficult to bear, there do remain positive trends to bolster a reasonable hope for the future of this franchise.