Orioles pass wins projection and set sights on milestone total

The Orioles keep winning, and are approaching a milestone

The Orioles have celebrated many wins this year
The Orioles have celebrated many wins this year / Jess Rapfogel/GettyImages

The Baltimore Orioles entered the 2023 season with high hopes. They were a surprise to many in 2022 and finished the season above .500 for the first time since 2017 at 83-79. The fruits of the rebuild labor started to appear with the call-ups of guys like Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson and Felix Bautista. Everyone around major league baseball was put on notice that the Orioles were return to glory, but many ignored the signs.

The O's are a very young team and did not make a big splash in the off-season. Instead, they choose to trust their process and move forward with the players they had while strategically adding a few relatively contract friendly veterans. Because of this, many people did not give this year's team the respect they deserved.

ZiPS and PECOTA are two of the commonly used projection systems that use mathematical algorithms to project numerous things throughout baseball, including team records. However, baseball is an unpredictable game. ZiPS projected the Birds to finish the 2023 season under .500 but still a respectable 80-82 for a team just starting to find its identity. PECOTA was not as kind and had the Orioles finishing at 74-88.

While some regression on a young team that achieved far greater than many expected would have been understandable, the Orioles players instead proved that they are for real and are only getting better. Adley Rutschman has established himself as the clear leader of the team and arguably the best catcher in baseball.

Gunnar Henderson entered the season as the favorite to win the American League Rookie of the Year and is on pace the finish the season the same way, while Felix Bautista has become arguably the best relief pitcher in the game. They have been joined in Baltimore by fellow top prospects Jordan Westburg, Grayson Rodriguez and Colton Cowser to give Baltimore a powerful six pack of young talent that should no longer allow the Orioles to be underestimated.

The Orioles enter September with the second best record in baseball at 83-50. They have already surpassed their projected win totals, have tied the amount of wins they had last season and there's still 29 games left to play. With last season's win total having already been matched, the Orioles can set their sights even higher.

If they can win 17 of the remaining 29 games this season, they will become only the sixth team in franchise history to reach 100 wins, and the first Orioles team since 1980. The O's reached the World Series the first four times they won 100 games (1969, 1970, 1971, and 1979), winning the series twice. Obviously winning the division and holding onto the number one seed in the AL are the primary goals, but the Tampa Bay Rays have been nearly as good so the Orioles can't slow down.

After winning on opening day (the only game in March), the Orioles have posted a winning in each month this season. Broken down by month, the Orioles record this season is as follows:

March: 1-0

April: 18-9

May: 16-12

June: 13-11

July: 17-9

August: 18-9

Going 17-12 over the last month (plus one day) of the season is achievable but the most important games will be 9/14-17 when the Orioles host the Rays for a four game series. Those head to head games could have a huge effect on who gets the top seed in the American League. The young players and veterans have meshed well and appear to be playing their best baseball at the right time.

The emergence of Kyle Bradish, Dean Kremer and Rodriguez have given the rotation a formidable front three. Cionel Perez, Danny Coulombe and Yennier Cano make the Orioles bullpen one of baseball's toughest even after the loss of Bautista, and they have an offense that is strong top to bottom and never quits. We can worry about the playoffs when the Orioles get there, especially since the O's have blown away the "experts" recent projections.

Winning 100 games would be a great accomplishment and it may even be necessary to remain in the top seed in the AL. The Orioles have some favorable matchups in September and will look to finish the season on a high note.