Orioles' 2020 strength of schedule will be difficult

The new Major League Baseball schedule is not out yet and it may be a while before we see one. But for the Orioles, it is expected to include competition against only teams from the American League East and National League East. That will be a steady diet of good teams, 2019 playoff teams and 2020 contending teams.

Wilkerson-Martin-Celebrate-Outstanding-Catch-Gray-Sidebar.jpgThe Orioles are scheduled to play 40 games versus the AL East and 20 versus the NL East. Some reports indicated that would include playing each NL East team four times and other reports said there would be six games against a rival and 14 against the rest. That rival for the Orioles would clearly be Washington, the defending World Series champion.

So while the two East divisions will be facing each other and not play outside of the divisions, the same will be true for the two Central and West clubs. You can make a case that playing the East teams will be tougher than the other divisions, although the two Wests did produce three clubs last year that won 97 or more games.

A comparison of the combined divisions from the 2019 season:

East: Six winning teams (one at .500), four that won 90 or more, four playoff teams.
Central: Five winning teams, three that won 90 or more, three playoff clubs.
West: Four winning records, three that won 90 or more, three playoff clubs.

The East does look the toughest, although the West does have two teams in Houston (107) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (106) that won 106 or more games and another in Oakland with 97 wins.

The 10 teams in the West combined to win 831 games in 2019 with the East at 818 and the Central at a combined 780 wins. The East got hurt by Toronto winning just 67 games and Baltimore just 54. Nine of 10 West clubs won 70 or more games.

The Orioles last year versus the AL East:
* 7-12 against Boston
* 2-17 versus New York
* 7-12 against Tampa Bay
* 8-11 versus Toronto

So the Orioles played .316 ball (24-52) last year within their division. They went 10-29 (.256) at home versus the AL East and 14-23 (.378) on the road. The Orioles were 7-13 against the NL last season when they played the West teams, except for four games against the Nats, where they went 2-2.

FanGraphs.com has projected the 2020 season and has the Dodgers with the best record at 36-24 and the Orioles with the worst at 21-39.

The projected AL East standings via FanGraphs.com:

New York, 34-26
Tampa Bay, 33-27
Boston, 31-29
Toronto, 27-33
Orioles, 21-39

That record would produce a winning percentage of .355 for the Orioles, which would top the 2019 season when the O's went 54-108 for a .333 winning percentage. A team playing .355 ball over a full season would go 58-104.

So, per one projection anyway, the Orioles will play a very tough schedule this summer over the 60 games, but will still produce a slightly improved winning percentage.

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