Baltimore Orioles 2015 season in review


There were a lot of questions and expectations surrounding Buck Showalter’s Baltimore Orioles coming into the 2015 season. Coming off of the franchise’s first AL East title in 17 years, the O’s were expected to soar once again. So how did we get from there, to 81-81? Good question.

After opening up in Tampa and taking two-of-three, the O’s returned home for a beautiful opening day in Baltimore. However a 12-5 loss to Toronto maybe set the tone for the season in terms of struggles. But the O’s kept their heads above water for the most part in April, despite injuries to J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters which kept them off the field. But in what would be a motif for the season, a massive wrench was thrown into the mix in late April…

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  • Baltimore was thrown into a state of civil unrest (in response to the Freddie Gray situation) on Saturday, April 25th prior to and during the Orioles’ game against Boston. The Birds ended up winning in walk off fashion in extra innings, but not before all people in the ballpark were asked not to leave. Two nights later on Monday, that civil unrest morphed into full scale riots, canceling games on 4/27 and 4/28/2015.

    The Orioles were literally caught in the crosshairs of the real world, as Baltimore resembled a war zone more than an American city – with the national guard on perpetual patrol. Wednesday, April 29th’s game with the ChiSox was rescheduled for 2 PM – in a game that was closed to the public. For the first time in history, a major league game was played in front of zero fans. That weekend’s home series with Tampa was rescheduled in Tampa – with the Orioles as the home team.

    Courtesy of Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

    These were unfortunate circumstances, but this team persevered through it. However May brought some struggles for the Birds. The majority of the month of May found the Birds losing one-run games. In reality, the O’s were relying on the home run to win games. And that was probably a motif for the team all year. They couldn’t manufacture runs, and opponents were able to hone in on that and use it to their advantage.

    June was no different in terms of manufacturing runs and relying on homers. However the difference was that the O’s found ways to win. After the month of June, the O’s flew into first place and seemed to have the world at their fingertips. However unlike last year’s team, the 2015 O’s never felt comfortable in first place. July found them falling back once again, and they started losing one-run games all over again.

    For the remainder of the season, the Orioles were inconsistent at best. At times the starting pitching was good. But at times it wasn’t. Chris Davis quietly took the big lead lead in home runs, but neither him nor the reliable Adam Jones could totally keep the O’s afloat. August brought a series of big series losses, such as a four-game sweep at home against Minnesota, and a three-game sweep at the hands of Texas in Arlington.

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    The O’s entered September back of the pack for the post season, and already all but out of the division race with Toronto soaring. The O’s battled in September, and finished the season with four consecutive victories. But it wasn’t enough, as they were eliminated from playoff contention with a week to go in the season. However in battling until the end, the Birds finished with a .500 record (81-81). Make no mistake about the fact that .500 is short of what their goal was, however it secured a non-losing season for a fourth consecutive year.

    If there are two things that describe why the O’s fell short, it’s probably inconsistent starting pitching down the stretch, and over-reliance on the home run. And that right there should be a blueprint for what the Orioles need to do in the off season. First and foremost however, they need to re-sign Chris Davis. While that in effect plays into the reliance on homers, you can’t discount Davis’ value to this team.

    However they also need to improve their OBP and situational hitting. That means finding players to fill in the holes who can get on base more frequently. That combined with a top line starting pitcher will help the O’s in 2016.

    My hope is that fans don’t look at this as a failure. Perhaps it was a step backwards, but keep in mind that fans would have given anything for .500 from 1998-2011. My hope is that fans look at this as an opportunity to know what the team needs to do to improve in 2016. If they can fix those aspects, there’s no reason to think they can’t be successful.

    Next: Baltimore Orioles: Ranking the roster

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