Fans of the Orioles are used to low expectations for their team. Have the Orioles ever been predicted recently to win the American League East? Maybe by a random reporter/analyst or two over the years, but not often. And that goes back to a year they were the defending AL East champs.
But this year, coming off a season where the Orioles featured a 5.70 rotation ERA and finished in last place, the expectations seem as low as probably anytime since they and their fans endured 14 consecutive losing seasons.
One Las Vegas over/under wager listed the Orioles for 77 1/2 wins for the coming season. Some feel that may be too high.
ESPN’s Buster Olney is a reporter who has often been very fair to the Orioles and also ready to report how well they were doing - when that was the fact.
Of the 77 1/2 over/under, Olney wrote: “As camps open this week, the Orioles haven’t added any starting pitching; they haven’t fixed the problems. Meanwhile, the Yankees have gotten better, and the Red Sox’s offense will almost certainly improve, especially if Boston adds J.D. Martinez. Baltimore is also likely to trade Manny Machado before the July 31 deadline. As a result, 78 wins seems like a stretch.”
Of course, since that was published, the Orioles added right-hander Andrew Cashner. He provides a rotation upgrade, but may not move the needle much with preseason predictions.
There are those that feel that, in regards to the rotation, it can’t possibly be worse than a 5.70 ERA and that this 2018 season will provide some addition by subtraction.
As of now, four of the six Orioles that started 10 or more games last season are not on the team. We’ll see if Chris Tillman winds up back with the club or not. But last season, the foursome of Tillman, Ubaldo Jiménez, Wade Miley and Jeremy Hellickson made 86 starts for the club, going a combined 17-39 with an ERA of 6.62.
Yep, that is really bad. But the club actually went a not completely terrible 39-47 in those 86 games. They were better in games started by Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, but still only went 32-30 in their combined 62 starts.
Last season, the group of Tillman, Jiménez, Miley and Hellickson had a combined won-loss percentage of .303, going 17-39. But the Orioles had a much better won-loss percentage of .453, going 39-47 in games they started. As bad as that group of four pitched, somehow the team won 45 percent of their combined starts.
Analysts and fans alike often size up which players a team added from one season to the next to determine if a team looks improved. But players that underperformed in 2017 - such as Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo - can improve on those seasons, and that can help the team win more games than projected. It is not always about additions or subtractions.
But in sizing up the 2018 Orioles, everyone is looking first and foremost at a rotation that was among baseball’s worst last year. And that is leading to the outlook for this year.
For the players however, predictions will have nothing to say with how they play and how the team does. For now, over-unders and so forth can be debated and interesting to check. Soon, all that matters is actual results.
More over-under totals: Here is a listing of over-under totals for every major league team from Bovada.
MLB win totals (from highest to lowest)
Houston Astros - 96 1/2
Los Angeles Dodgers - 96 1/2
Chicago Cubs - 94 1/2
Cleveland Indians - 94 1/2
New York Yankees - 94 1/2
Washington Nationals - 92 1/2
Boston Red Sox - 91 1/2
Arizona Diamondbacks - 85 1/2
St. Louis Cardinals - 85 1/2
Los Angeles Angels - 84 1/2
Milwaukee Brewers - 84 1/2
Minnesota Twins - 82 1/2
Colorado Rockies - 82
San Francisco Giants - 81 1/2
Seattle Mariners - 81 1/2
New York Mets - 81
Toronto Blue Jays - 81
Tampa Bay Rays - 77 1/2
Texas Rangers - 77 1/2
Philadelphia Phillies - 75 1/2
Atlanta Braves - 74 1/2
Oakland Athletics - 74 1/2
Cincinnati Reds - 73 1/2
Baltimore Orioles - 73
Pittsburgh Pirates - 73
Kansas City Royals -71 1/2
San Diego Padres - 69 1/2
Detroit Tigers - 68 1/2
Chicago White Sox - 68
Miami Marlins - 64 1/2