Two predictions for the O's win total in 2011

I am going to cut to the chase here today.

My goal and also prediction for the Orioles for this year is for a season of 82 and 80.

That would put to rest the streak of 13 consecutive losing seasons and provide the club with it's most wins since the 1997 group went 98-64, a wire-to-wire first place finish.

That would represent a very nice improvement and provide the Orioles with some respectability. It would put them on the road to hopefully a two-year surge upward and perhaps back into a life as a playoff contending club.

And lest you think that improvement will come easily as I have heard some fans suggest, 82 wins would be 16 more than the 2010 O's who went 66-96. No club in the Majors made a 16-win gain last year.

San Diego made the biggest improvement from 2009-10, going from 75 to 90 wins. Cincinnati was next, going from 78 to 91 and Tampa had the best gain in the AL, from 84 to 96 wins and a division title.

An 82-win season would prove that last year's finish had some meat to it and, for me, cement the fact that the club is heading in the right direction.

There are so many O's players that need to prove they can stay healthy, that getting a real good read on this team can be hard to do. Players in this category include Brian Roberts, Derrek Lee, J.J. Hardy, Mike Gonzalez, Jason Berken and Koji Uehara to name a few.

By the way, when I interviewed ESPN's Tim Kurkjian last week, I asked for his prediction on the season as well. He believes a .500 year is in the O's reach and that it would be major progress and show that "the Orioles are headed north this time in every way."

Click below to hear Kurkjian's comments.

Tim Kurkjian on O's 2011 season by smelewski

I think the Orioles win total this year and improvement is more important than their final finish in the standings. In the AL East, the toughest division in all of sports, 82 wins may not get you much. Last year Toronto won 85 and finished fourth.

As for me, I'll take 82 right now. It would make for a season much more fun than in previous years and provide even more hope for the Orioles future.

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