Neal Shaffer: Best guesses for the Orioles' second half

Here, at the All-Star break, let's take a moment. I think we need it.

The Orioles have not been playing well for something like a month. Yet, as I wrote earlier this week over at The Loss Column, it's important to keep in mind that they're still not only above .500 but in playoff contention, as well. That this is the case despite the aforementioned substandard play is somewhat amazing. Possibly even cause for celebration. Let's not forget that we're in bonus territory here.

Now, back before the season started I, like everyone else who follows the team, made some guesses about how things would go. I figured they wouldn't be very good, and I targeted 74 as the magic number for wins. Jury's still out on that, but I also predicted that they'd be weird. Moyer? Thome? Tejada? Check. I then said we'd come to appreciate how lucky we are to have Adam Jones. Another win.

With almost a full half-season yet to play, it's time to revisit and revise. With that in mind, here are three predictions for the second half.

They'll finish above .500 but they won't make the playoffs.

I put the odds of more wins than losses at about 70 percent, the odds of contending for a playoff spot in the final weeks at about 30 percent, and the odds of actually making the playoffs at maybe 10 percent. That said, full disclosure: I wouldn't bet money on any of it. I'm making my best informed guess but just about nothing would surprise me given what we've seen so far. Epic meltdown? Deep run at a postseason spot? Both are plausible.

They'll stay weird and possibly get even weirder.

Dan Duquette is a mad scientist, straight up. I can't yet decide if he's a genius or a fool, but I know he's out there. He's going to do something unexpected in the second half. That much I actually would bet on.

Once the dust settles, we'll be happy.

I don't know precisely why I feel optimistic about the second half, but I do. This team has already weathered some pretty serious storms and has remained fairly strong. That's huge because it's what good teams do. They're not yet a great team, but I think they have the potential to be a good one. So regardless of how things play out, I think we'll look back in October and say, "Not bad. Let's go get 'em next year."

What about you? If you had to make three guesses for the second half, what would they be?

Neal Shaffer regularly blogs about the Orioles at The Loss Column, and his work appears here as part of MASNsports.com's initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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