Before the season began, the Baltimore Orioles were expected to finish at the bottom of the barrel – literally in 30th place in the MLB.
With the Baltimore Orioles sitting at an unexpected .500, the underdogs are making baseball fun to watch.
There are a lot of things worse than a boring baseball game, but when there are only 60 in a season, they better be good. And, these Orioles games are good.
And, with very few exceptions, the Orioles are delivering an entertaining season both for themselves and the fans stuck watching them on television.
Consider that last year on August 11, the Orioles had their only walk-off win of the season. Rio Ruiz hit a home run off of Astros Robert Osuna. At that point in the 2019 season, the Orioles were 39-78. Enjoy reliving that moment courtesy of MLB.com:
In 2020, the Orioles are two games back from first place in the AL East. They had their first walk-off win in the seventh game of the season. They’ve swept the Tampa Bay Rays, won a series against the Boston Red Sox, and are a handful of outs away from sweeping the 2019 World Series champions. They’ve done all of this with a bunch of guys who are the youngest and lowest paid players in the league.
Consider the Sunday game against the Nationals with World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg on the mound. Even though the game was suspended due to field conditions, the Orioles scored five runs off of Stras, and they did it with their least expensive lineup. The Orioles acquired four of the players through waivers, one from a Rule-5 pick, one in an International Bonus pool trade, and one on a minor-league deal. The last two were picked up in the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the amateur draft. Those nine players combined make less than Strasburg with his $35 million annual contracts.
That’s what is making this year fun. These young players are showing that they don’t need gazillions to play and win. They’re playing with heart, and it is clear they thorough are enjoying all these wins.
The big questions is whether or not the wins will continue. That’s where baseball’s magic lies. The game is about ability, but it’s also about timing and physics. If the Orioles can continue to keep making good defensive plays and barreling up the ball, they could keep winning. They’ve made it through several tough teams already, but they have several more to face.
Even though the Orioles still have Chris Davis and his massive contract on the roster, the team doesn’t rely on him to carry them. He’s not a Mike Trout, Jose Altuve, or Bryce Harper. He’s a guy who needs a team. And, that’s what seems to bring the Orioles their strength. They have to play as a team, because they don’t have another option.
And, if you haven’t noticed, the Orioles have had a different star each night. Jose Iglesias and Hanser Alberto have been consistent. But, nearly every player has had a moment in the spotlight. Consider Pat Valaika‘s walk-off single, Renato Nunez‘s timely home runs, Austin Hays‘ acrobatic plays, or Cole Sulser‘s clutch pitching, and it’s easy to see how the team is working as one.
Hopefully, the O’s can continue to play together and get the unexpected wins, as there isn’t anything much better than a true underdog story.