The 2022 O's are crafting a future memorable season

Longtime Orioles fans could probably cite some special and memorable seasons in team history. Some loved the 1989 Why Not Orioles. Some fondly remember the 2012 club that got the team back in the playoffs after a 14-year absence. No doubt the years 1966, 1970 and 1983 are special. Those, of course, were seasons ending with World Series championships.

I think that years from now when some fans look back, they might fondly discuss this 2022 season. And it probably won’t matter whether this team goes on to make the playoffs or not. This team will have a special place in the hearts of O’s fans for years, I would guess.

Surprise teams and underdogs can be special, and these Orioles qualify as both. After a 110-loss 2021, some fans' expectations were low coming into this year. “Just don’t lose 100 games again,” was one thought. “Just be more competitive,” was another.

But this team started playing competitive ball almost from the first pitch of the year. And the winning started around May 1 and hasn’t stopped. They came up with comeback wins and thrilling walk-off wins. They started to beat good American League East teams. Heck, they were beating good teams inside and outside of the division.

They lost John Means and still won. Recently they traded Trey Mancini and Jorge López and are still winning.

Yep, this team has won fans’ hearts and will be remembered.

They kept raising the bar, from at first showing us they would not again lose 100. Then maybe they can win 70. Then maybe they can even push for a .500 record. Then, hey, they are a longshot for a playoff spot. Then to present day, and they are currently tied for a wild card playoff spot.

It’s been a heckuva ride and there are still 52 games to go. So much more for the team and fans to extract from a 2022 season that is sure going to be well remembered many years from now.

A few other thoughts, notes and takes: 

* The new Major League Baseball playoff format rules and tiebreakers have a potential flaw. As we know, six teams in the AL will make the 2022 playoffs – three division winners and three wild cards. There will no longer be any tiebreaker games, and standings ties will be determined first by head-to-head record and second by division record. That applies even if tied teams are not from the same division. Yes, that does seem strange.

For instance, if the Orioles and Seattle tied for the final wild card spot, the Mariners would advance by a 4-2 record against the Orioles. But if that were 3-3, the next tiebreaker would be comparing the O’s AL East record to Seattle’s record in the AL West.

This could still come into play with, say, the Orioles and Guardians. The O’s lost two of three earlier to Cleveland but the teams have another three-game series at the end of the month. Should the O’s take two of three then and those two clubs later are tied for third wild card spot, it would go to division records. The O’s are currently 22-24 the AL East, which has four teams six games or more over .500. Cleveland is 26-21 versus the AL Central, which, heading into Wednesday’s games, had no teams six games over .500 or better. Doesn’t seem fair, but those are the new rules.

These rules make the O’s three-game series in St. Petersburg, Fla., with the Rays this weekend pretty big. The clubs are tied at 8-8 in the season series, and the series winner this weekend will have the playoff tiebreaker over the other.

* When the O’s rallied to win Tuesday over Toronto, it was their 25th comeback win of the season, surpassing their 2021 total of 24. The 25 comeback wins are tied for the sixth-most in MLB and are their most since they had 34 in 2017.

* The Orioles have gone 7-1 in their first eight games in August. Through Tuesday, that .875 winning percentage was second in the majors this month, behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have gone 8-0. The O's have outscored their opponents 42-27 (+15) in August while posting an .849 OPS and a 3.38 ERA (27 ER/72.0 IP).

* The Orioles have six players ranked in the updated Baseball America top 100 prospects list released this week. We have written about Gunnar Henderson’s rise to the No. 1 spot. The Orioles also have pitcher Grayson Rodriguez at No. 4, top draft pick Jackson Holliday No. 41, pitcher DL Hall No. 61, outfielder Colton Cowser No. 97 and infielder Jordan Westburg No. 98.

* Baltimore is one of five organizations with at least six prospects in the updated rankings, trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals (7) and tied with the Cleveland Guardians and Texas Rangers (6).

When Baseball America released organizational rankings in February, the Orioles came in at No. 4. The publication is expected to release an updated list of organizational rankings in the next week or two.

* Holliday played in his first pro game last night, playing five innings at shortstop for the Rookie-level Florida Complex League Orioles. He went 1-for-3 with a single and a stolen base.

* Double-A Bowie suffered a second straight walk-off loss at Akron last night. But in that game, shortstop Joey Ortiz extended his hitting streak to 17 games. He is batting .449 (31-for-69) during this run with eight doubles, a triple, five homers, 23 runs and 24 RBIs. Over his past 31 games, Ortiz has hit safely in 29 of them at a .400 clip with 15 multi-hit games.

Orioles and Red Sox lineups
Grayson Rodriguez progresses to bullpen sessions a...
 

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