Going into each of the last two seasons, the Baltimore Orioles have been arguably the most overlooked team in baseball. After being one of the worst teams in baseball for four years (2018-2021), many experts didn’t think the Birds were ready to compete in 2022. Those who had followed the team's minor leagues knew good things were coming, but those projections were mostly laughed at.
It was understandable when experts projected the O’s to have another bad season in 2022 with win totals in the low 60’s, but the Orioles broke out and surprised many by finishing 83-79. Experts again underestimated the O’s in 2023 expecting them to regress and projecting win totals from 74 (PECOTA) to 80 (ZiPS). But after winning 101 games, in the best division in baseball, people are finally giving the Orioles the respect they deserve.
MLB.com released it first power rankings ahead of the 2024 season and it features the Orioles as the fourth best team. Most of the credit for the Orioles rise in the rankings should be given to Executive of the Year Mike Elias and the Orioles front office, as well as AL Manger of the Year Brandon Hyde. The O’s have drafted well and developed their talent and now are reaping the benefits of that labor. Hyde was able to get the best of that young talent as he guided this team to an AL East crown.
Orioles crack the top 5 in first MLB 2024 power rankings
While other teams are out buying star players, the Orioles keep going back to the well and developing them. The best players the O’s have added in the last two seasons are homegrown. Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson debuted in 2022 and led the way for players like Grayson Rodriguez, Jordan Westburg and Heston Kjerstad who all debuted in 2023.
While other teams are spending billions on free agents, the Orioles are expected to boost their team with the debuts of top prospects like Jackson Holliday, Coby Mayo and Chayce McDermott among others in 2024.
There’s still time for the Birds to make a big splash before next season, and they have been linked to players such as Framber Valdez, Dylan Cease and Marcus Stroman. As much as some fans want to see the O’s make a big move, we have all learned to trust Mike Elias.
Regardless of whether or not they make any more moves, one thing has been made clear. The Orioles are a very good baseball team and they are only getting better. They have earned their place among the best teams in baseball and will hopefully take the next step and translate that success into a World Series.