This just in: Orioles games have become difficult to watch and some fans are tuning out early.
How can that not be true of a team that is 17-46 over its last 63 games and played what sure looked like very uninspired baseball over the weekend?
Today, I am going to take a shot at some reasons to continue to watch the Orioles and retain interest in the games. It is not the easiest exercise, but there are some things still worth watching and tracking.
Here is my list:
* Can Adam Jones finish off a very strong year? He’s now batting .299 with 23 doubles, 22 homers, 77 RBIs and an OPS of .830. Can Jones become the third O’s center fielder in team history to drive in 100 runs? He would join Brady Anderson and Mike Devereaux.
Jones is batting .441 in 10 games as the cleanup hitter and, in 36 games since the All-Star break, is batting .333 with a .582 slugging percentage and .939 OPS.
* Will Zach Britton and Brian Matusz improve, providing them momentum and something to build on going into the winter? The young lefties remain key cogs for the O’s future. If they can pitch some good games the rest of the way, it would be a big development.
* Will Jim Johnson join the rotation and how will that go? I am now on the Johnson-could-do-well-as-a-starter bandwagon, which seems to be growing. His power sinker, curve and change seem suited to get outs for more than one inning. I think he could transition well to the role and help the club where it desperately needs help.
* How many homers will J.J. Hardy hit? Look, he could finish third on the club in homers, but his power display since June has been impressive and his 23 homers are impressive considering he missed a month.
Hardy is eighth in the American League, averaging a homer every 16.3 at-bats. He is currently hitting them at a greater rate then David Ortiz, Carlos Quentin, Evan Longoria, Josh Hamilton, Jacoby Ellsbury, Robinson Cano and Adrian Gonzalez.
* Can Nick Markakis continue to rebound from his terrible start? Since June 1, Markakis is batting .321 with 17 doubles, nine homers and 41 RBIs over 71 games. His final numbers figure to end up not looking as good as some other seasons, but he certainly has hit better for a while now.
* Can players including Chris Davis, Ryan Adams, Nolan Reimold and Troy Patton make big enough impressions to put themselves in position to be on the 2012 Orioles.
The Orioles’ losing has sapped the energy from the fan base. Losing wears on everyone, including the fans. But for those that elect to hang around, there are at least a few things worth checking out.