The 2022 season may have seen the Orioles produce their first winning record since 2016. And it saw them lose fewer than 100 games in a full-season for the first time since 2017.
In the end there were 83 wins for the Orioles, and a winning percentage of .512. But it didn’t start all that well.
They were 0-3 after being swept to start the year in St. Petersburg, Fla. and 1-5 after two series. They were 3-8 after 11 games and 7-14 at the end of April. They were 21-30 when May ended and did not reach the .500 mark until getting to 44-44 on July 12.
But the group of Orioles heading to spring training this week has designs on playing well right from the jump this year and the schedule could play into those hopes.
The Orioles officially begin their 14th spring training in Sarasota, Fla. this week. Pitchers and catchers are due to report by Wednesday, but no doubt the camp is bustling already with players reporting early and the small group of prospects taking part in an early hitting camp.
We can say it and not be wrong now – the spring portion of the 2023 season is just about underway. The first official workout is this Thursday and the first spring game is Feb. 25 at Ed Smith Stadium against the Minnesota Twins.
We are not that far away from the first box scores of this new season.
“Feel like we have a competitive club. You know, this is the first time we’ve gone in with true non-rebuild mode of going out to win games. We feel like we can compete, we showed it last year and we’re excited about our club,” manager Brandon Hyde said during Birdland Caravan.
He added this: “I think you are always excited to go to spring training. We’re just way more talented this year. We have guys that are kind of going into there, talking about that group that has been here a few years now, they are a little bit older and gaining veteran status with some of our position players. And it was super encouraging what we did on the mound last year and we want to build on that. We were able to stay in games, able to finish games. We got over the hump last year pitching-wise.
“I think everybody is very aware of what we did last year. Our record from June on was really competitive and we are not sneaking up on anybody anymore.”
If the Orioles can get off to a fast start they might further validate that they will be contenders this year. They also might excite the fanbase even more than it already is.
Winning makes a lot of things right.
The Orioles will open the year with three games at Boston and three at Texas – two clubs with losing records last year. Of their 28 games in April, they play 22 versus clubs that had losing records last season and 12 of those versus 2022 last-place clubs.
That is April. Then May begins with three games at Kansas City, which played .401 ball last season.
So through that series, the Orioles will have played 31 games. Of the 31, 25 are against losing record clubs from 2022. And of the 31, 15 are against last-place clubs with six versus Boston, four against Oakland, two against Washington and three against Kansas City. They will play 16 of the 31 against clubs that played .420 ball or less and 17 of those 31 at home. There are just nine games in that run against an AL East club – three against the Yankees, six against the Red Sox.
None of this guarantees wins, of course. Baltimore went 9-10 against Boston last season, 3-4 versus Oakland and 1-5 against Detroit. You have to still outplay the other guy, no matter that team’s record.
This season MLB is going back to a more balanced schedule. The Orioles played 47 percent of their games against AL East clubs last year and that now drops to 32 percent. They play each club 13 times, not 19.
So they will play 52 games within their division, 64 versus the AL Central and West and 46 against National League teams. They play every team in the majors at least one series.
“We play in a tough division. Those teams are not going anywhere,” Hyde said. “It was nice to take strides last year in competing against them the way we did.
“I do like the balanced schedule. I think the fans will enjoy it too, to be able to see every club will be fun. Playing that many games against your own division was tough. We still play a lot against them, but looking forward to seeing the rest of the league a bit more.”