There is one area where it might be tough for the 2023 Orioles to match the 2022 version. It’s an area that we won’t be able to compare on a stat sheet. It’s team chemistry and camaraderie.
For the 83-win Orioles this year, it was exceptional.
Players cited it throughout the year and as the season went on, it was hard not to notice how close-knit this team was. And the closeness developed and showed itself both before games and even outside of the ballparks and then showed up many nights at 7 o’clock. There was no stat for it – advanced or otherwise, but this chemistry was vital to this team this year.
As the Orioles look to take the winning to the next level, outfielder Austin Hays said the togetherness is important. Players genuinely enjoyed seeing teammates suceed, not because they should do that, but because it came naturally.
“I think we turned the culture here into a winning environment,” said Hays. “Where, we are celebrating wins in the clubhouse as a team. We’re going and having team dinners together. We had a win belt this year for player of the game and guys had to give speeches after that. All those things that come with the wins, just the team growing together and growing with one another, it was a culture we didn’t have here for the last three years.
“The wins and the performance on the field was great. But those things that we were able to build at the same time in the clubhouse, was going hand-in-hand with that.”
Hays has now been on Orioles teams for parts of five seasons. None were as tight as this group.
“This was the most fun season on and off the field. This was the closest team I’ve been a part of since I was in pro ball. Just so much fun to come to the park every day,” said Hays.
There is no handbook to make players like each other, enjoy their company and want to spend time together outside of the ballpark. But it happened for these Orioles.
Meanwhile manager Brandon Hyde was working on creating a strong clubhouse culture/environment by seeking player input, especially from the veterans. He wanted them to know it was their clubhouse and that they would always have input about things that impacted them and mattered to them.
“I think it’s important,” said Hyde. “I meet a couple of times a year with some guys that have been around for a while. We don’t have a ton of them but to make sure that it’s their clubhouse and to make sure everything we’re doing is creating and keeping this a really good environment.
“From how we travel to what the clubhouse is like to meetings. I want input on all that stuff from the players, especially players that have been other places and have played on good teams. I think that is really, really important to create where it’s not just me telling everybody how we’re doing things, but it’s collaborative. Their input is extremely important. So, I do that a couple of times a year with some of the older guys.”
Getting the feel for the clubhouse can be something the coaching staff very much seeks and monitors often.
“I think it’s important as a coach just to walk through the clubhouse and you know, even sometimes after tough losses to be able to walk through and show that things are going to be okay. Just try to be as consistent as possible and as honest as possible. For me, when you are honest, players know you have their best interest and it’s easier to hold guys accountable for things you want to see them do differently. And I think we’ve done a good job of that the last few years,” Hyde said.