Baltimore Orioles: Missing some keys to the ‘Oriole Way’


Photo: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a rocky first three weeks for the Orioles, and it doesn’t take keen-eyed baseball expert to see that. In fact, their futility has been jumping off the screen lately. However, as the cliché goes, it’s still early, and the way that the Orioles are losing games should show some glimmer of hope that they’ll right the ship sooner or later.

When Earl Weaver became the manager of the Orioles almost fifty years ago he famously instilled his theory of pitching, defense and the three-run homer as the formula for success. It was a formula that eventually became known as “The Oriole Way.” It was also the cornerstone of the successful last three seasons for the Orioles. So far this season, however, the Orioles are struggling in a couple of those categories.

The homeruns definitely haven’t been the issue so far with the Orioles. Despite Nelson Cruz’s notable absence, the Orioles are first in the league in homeruns. Obviously, he is off to a hot start with the Mariners and the Orioles’ offensive numbers would look a lot better had he resigned with Baltimore. Yet, despite fear that the Orioles offense would see a significant drop-off in 2015 without Cruz, so far the offense has been strong. It’s the other two factors in Earl’s formula that have been the issue…

Specifically, the pitching. There are a lot of adjectives you could use to describe the Orioles pitching so far, but to save time we’ll just say, really bad. The Orioles pitching has been really bad. In fact, they have been the worst in baseball. They have the worst ERA in all of baseball. They have allowed 84 runs in 16 games. And they have 4 quality starts this season which is tied for last with the 3-13 Milwaukee Brewers.

The good news is common sense says this can’t continue. Most of the Orioles’ pitchers who have started this season so poorly have some track record of success at the major-league level, and most are just reaching the prime of their careers. It’s hard to imagine 9 of the Orioles’ 12-or-so pitchers having career worst seasons at the same time.

The real head-scratcher so far for Orioles’ fans has been the defense. The Orioles’ defense hasn’t been just good the past few seasons, they’ve been one of the best all-time. However, this season the Orioles are second to last in the division with ten errors, and there has been probably a dozen or so plays that haven’t been made that the Orioles would have made in the past.

Again, the good news is that most of the players have a track record of above-average defense, and a couple Gold Glovers in Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy should return soon from injury. So, in theory, their defensive struggles shouldn’t be something that’s a problem all season.

The problems the Orioles have had so far are definitely fixable. However, in a division that looks more competitive than last season, they need to be fixed sooner rather than later, or the Orioles could be digging themselves out of a hole for much of the season.

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