Modeling Houston and chasing a consistent playoff contender

If the Orioles' rebuilding efforts were and are at least partially being modeled after the Astros, is there a way to compare where Baltimore is in the process in looking at Houston’s winning run?

Sure we can look at it and it provides an interesting exercise. But it is certainly not an apples to apples comparison.

The Orioles lost 100 or more games for three straight full seasons from 2018 through 2021. Houston did that from 2011-2013. The 2014 Astros then went 70-92 taking a step forward and breaking out of the 100-loss rut. The Orioles did that going 83-79 last season. The 2015 Houston team then won 86 and made the American League Division Series, so they were in the postseason in year two post 100-loss seasons and that timeframe would put Baltimore in the 2023 playoffs. The 2016 Astros though won just 84 and missed out on the playoffs.

But that all led to 2017, a tainted World Series win, but also the beginning of a run of four World Series appearances in six years. Which team wouldn’t take that run of success? The Orioles did that once of course in yesteryear, from 1966 to 1971, winning the WS twice in the greatest run of success in team history.

So Houston had the 100-loss years, then three seasons with one playoff appearance leading into six years of consistent winning and  World Series appearances. If the O’s followed that exactly, which is unlikely of course, they would be looking at one playoff appearance over the next two years with things really humming starting in 2025.

During his season-ending press conference during the last series with Toronto, O’s executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias, of course formerly with Houston, proclaimed his Baltimore club officially in the fight in the AL East.

“Looking at the entire organization, I think we’re very pleased with everything that happened up and down the organization this year,” he said Oct. 5. “First and foremost, the way that this team played and competed at the major league level is something that I think rightfully our players and coaches deserve a lot of credit for. We’re not where we want to be or need to be in the division. It’s very daunting looking at these other four, not only teams but organizations in our division, picturing having to beat them to make it to the playoffs next year, but that’s our goal and we feel that the organization is in a position now to realistically pursue that goal for next year.

“So that’s going to be my focus this offseason, and I think the focus of our squad when we meet in Sarasota next year. It’s not going to be easy, given who we have to compete against and who we have to play against, but as I said in the summer, I feel like this team is officially in the fight in the AL East, and that’s a big achievement.

“It doesn’t mean we’re going to be complacent about it. We know that we had some relatively good health this season. We had some guys have good seasons. It’s tough to repeat in this league. Players make adjustments against you, we’ve got a lot of young guys. We may have some individual steps back, but we plan to hopefully reinforce this group, keep helping the players improve, and hope that we can take another step forward next season and get into the playoffs that we narrowly missed out on this year.”

For the Orioles, this is an exciting spot to be in and beats the heck out of fans hoping over the winter to "just don't lose 100 this year."

In the five full seasons since 2017, Houston has averaged 102.4 wins per year, winning 100 games four times in that run. They won 106 this season. Winning 100 games, as the Mets, Dodgers and Braves will tell you, does not guarantee postseason success. But you need to get in the tournament first and then roll the dice.

Houston has just one World Series win during this run and that one has an asterisk next to it. But the sustained winning has been extremely impressive, they've built somewhat of a dominant organization and they have built an organization that has shown it can lose good players and even key members of the front office and keep winning.

Everyone in Birdland would take such winning numbers I would imagine. And that is the O’s long-range goal as the process rolls on.

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