Baltimore Orioles: Defying Expectations in 2020 Season

After a three-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays, the Baltimore Orioles are defying all of their preseason expectations.

At this moment, the Baltimore Orioles are sitting in second place in the AL East, only behind the 6-1 Yankees. With the .625 winning percentage, the Orioles are also the third-best team in the entire American League (the Twins are in second).

At 5-3, the Orioles have won two of the three series, when they weren’t expected to win more than one or two games. Even after a two-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees, the Orioles actually look like a decent team.

This just goes to show us all that teams on paper aren’t the same as teams on the field. The Orioles have a winning record, at 5-3. The craziest part is that in the last three wins, the Orioles were without Chris Davis and Jose Iglesias in most of the innings. Iglesias did pinch hit for one at-bat on Saturday and two at-bats on Sunday. And, Davis has two at-bats on Friday.

For the most part, the wins were based on timely hits from the young players. The top of the lineup, especially Hanser Alberto and Anthony Santander have become a dangerous combination.

But, we shouldn’t overlook Rio Ruiz, who is leading the team with three home runs and seven RBI. And, in Sunday’s game, Iglesias came into the game to pinch hit and went 2-2 with another double and an RBI. It is also worth noting that Renato Nunez is finding his groove, after going 2-4 on Sunday with a home run and an RBI single. These young players are proving that they are here to play.

With the short season, many pundits wondered if any players would finish the season with a batting average above .400. Right now, with eight games under their belts, Iglesias and Alberto are still above the magic number. Iglesias in 19 at-bats has an average of .526, and Alberto has an average of .429 in 35 at-bats. Hopefully, Iglesias’s quad soreness will ease so he can return to the lineup. And, Alberto is simply on a tear, and is making his plate appearances look easy.

Along with timely hitting, the pitching has been decent. No one has been declared “the ace” yet, but the pitching is supporting the hitting – which is really what matters. If the batters can get across the plate, the pitching needs to keep the opponent from doing the same. Alex Cobb is leading the starters with a 2.89 ERA in two games. The team ERA is 5.05 – which is 22nd in the League. For comparison, the team hitting has an OPS of .783 – which is the seventh best in the League.

To make the three-game sweep even better, the Orioles did get to win the “Little League” style extra-innings play. It took two extra innings to get the Orioles a walk-off win after Pat Valaika hit a single that knocked in Bryan Holaday.

Hopefully, the Orioles can keep it up. The latest news was that the Marlins would come to town for three days between August 4 and 6, but both teams’ schedules have yet to be updated.