Let the offseason analysis begin

So now what do we do?

Well, here on this blog we quickly transition to offseason mode which sometimes can be pretty fun, too, as we both look back and ahead, speculate on what might happen, report on what does happen and get your input on it all along the way.

If you are new here, you should know that our blogs stay active all year long and we never stop talking about the Orioles. MASNSports.com is one place you can always come for O’s news and always come to discuss O’s news. I want to read your comments and try to answer your questions every day. So keep ‘em coming.

So let’s start on the first day of the offseason by looking at some things that went right and that didn’t in 2013.

Two straight winning seasons: The Orioles have back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1996-97. If you want to develop a winning tradition, you need to keep, well, winning.

The O’s players and their fans have come to expect winning baseball and that sure is a big positive. The preseason Pecota predictions that so many of you discussed here had the O’s winning 75 games and Las Vegas pegged their over-under figure in March in the mid-70s. Told you that you should have taken the over.

The defense: The O’s set records for fewest errors in a 162-game season with 54 and had a .991 fielding percentage. The stat sheet said we were watching one of the best defenses to ever play the game.

The Orioles’ poor defense of early to mid-2012 seems like light years ago now. The great O’s teams of yesteryear were built on pitching and defense and that is almost always a winning formula. The O’s have the defense part down at least.

The close games: One season after going 54-23 in one- and two-run games, the Orioles were 40-42.

The closer: Jim Johnson finished strong. He went 9-for-9 in save chances in September with a 3.80 ground-to-air out ratio. But he saved just 84.7 percent on the year (50-of-59), down from 94.4 percent (51-of-54). While we probably can’t expect a percentage as good as 2012 every year, the O’s need better that what we saw overall in 2013.

A blown save almost always feels like a crushing defeat and they can be the toughest to bounce back from. The club has expressed confidence in Johnson. Can he live up to that in 2014?

The big three: Chris Davis, Adam Jones and Manny Machado formed the core of a batting order that finished fourth in the AL in runs even with their late-season fade and their struggles at times with runners in scoring position.

Those three, along with others, showed up every day and their talent and work ethic set the tone for a clubhouse that had a lunchpail mentality and is filled with high-character, gamer types.

The East was a beast: In 2012, the Orioles played .597 ball against the AL East, going 43-29 and they had a .500 or better record against every team for the first time since 1970.

In 2013, they played just .474 ball at 36-40. One year after winning nine of 12 AL East road series, the Orioles won four of 12. An 11-8 record against Boston was more than offset by a 6-13 mark against Tampa Bay.

If you want to win your division, you should have a winning record in your division. Not good enough here in 2013.

Let the analysis begin.

What is your take on some of the things that went right and wrong this year? What are the club’s biggest needs moving forward? What are the biggest strengths and question marks? Will the O’s be a playoff contender in 2014?

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