The Baltimore Orioles are playoff contenders. Who have been the biggest surprises?

Rougned Odor #12 of the Baltimore Orioles celebrates his three run home run. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Rougned Odor #12 of the Baltimore Orioles celebrates his three run home run. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

The 2022 season has been a surprise in Baltimore, and the fans are showing their support. The Baltimore Orioles currently average 17,265 fans per game, which is up from 10,169 in 2021, and an increase of 58.9% between the two years.

There has been a complete overhaul of the team and the development of their farm system has arrived a year or two early. Behind rookie and emerging team leader Adley Rutschman, the Orioles are now 39-27 since his May 21st debut and are currently 4 games over .500 for the first time this season. His .797 OPS would rank 4th in MLB, and 2nd in the AL had he reached the qualifying minimum at-bats.

Don’t look now Major League Baseball: the Baltimore Orioles now have a 41% chance of making the playoffs, and an increase of 37.6% in the past 30 days.

Some of the biggest surprises are coming from players that may only be known to the fans of the O’s. Felix Bautista, the new closer, has a K% of 98, which puts him tied for 7th with other pitchers such as Shoehei Ohtani, ahead of Shane McClanahan, and Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes.

The Baltimore Orioles are playoff contenders

Perhaps the most surprising of all Oriole players is shortstop, Jorge Mateo. Mateo is 1st in the AL in stolen bases with 26 and ranks 2nd in all of MLB. To break this down even further his Sprint Speed is 30.2, which ranks 3rd in MLB, behind Bobby Witt Jr. and Trea Turner. Sprint speed measures how many feet covered in a one second window.

Why is this stat significant for the Orioles and him as a batter? Mateo can cover 33% of the base path per second, which has aided in his OBP, Runs Scored, and Total Bases.

In the past 28 days, 20 games, Mateo has a slash line of .294/.314/.632 with an OPS of .947. His BAbip, which measures balls in play without HRs or Strikeouts is .320, and on the year, his Sweet Spot % is 39.6, which ranks 16th in MLB, which is ahead of all current Orioles, and only behind former Oriole, now Astro, Trey Mancini, who ranks 4th.

His defense has been in the Top 10 across the board in Major League Baseball as well, where he is tied for 7th in DWAR with 1.5, 6th in Double Plays with 52, 7th in Assists with 242, 6th in Putouts with 121, and 6th in Range Factor, which measures the total number of assists and putouts divided by games played, with 4.03.

The core of the baseball team is made up of the quality of fielders up the middle. That means the catcher, Adley Rutschman, the pitchers, Orioles’ bullpen is ranked 3rd in MLB, the middle infielders, Mateo, and Centerfielder, Cedric Mullins. While there are still pieces being determined, Jorge Mateo is certainly making the case for himself to be included on the roster for years to come.

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