The year 2023 will be remembered in Birdland as the year the O's moved back atop the AL East

As the calendar year 2023 comes to an end today, we can reflect on what a special year it was for the Baltimore Orioles and their fans. It was a year they returned to the playoffs, they returned to the top of the AL East and they returned to a club that won 100-plus games.

The Orioles finished 101-61 to hold off the Tampa Bay Rays by two games to win their 10th AL East championship. Their 101 wins were the most in the American League and second in the majors, behind Atlanta, which won 104.

The season ended with a three-game sweep by the Texas Rangers in the AL Division Series. But what a ride it was until the season came crashing down with a 7-1 loss Oct. 10 in Arlington, Tex.

It was a year where:

The Orioles recorded their sixth all-time season with 100 or more wins and came up with their most since 1980.

* The 2023 Orioles tied the 1971 Birds as the fourth-winningest club in team history. Those two clubs trailed only the O’s teams in 1969 (109 wins), 1970 (108 wins) and 1979 (102 wins).

* The season capped a remarkable run from 52 wins in 2021 to 83 the next year and to 101.

* They won the AL East for the first time since the 2014 club won 96 games.

* The Orioles had the best record in the AL for the first time since 1997 and the club secured back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2013-14.

* The Orioles went the entire regular season (52 series) without being swept for the first time in club history. They are the fourth MLB team since 2000 to achieve the feat, joining the Braves teams of 2022 (51 series), 2004 (52 series), and 2002 (52 series). The Orioles have now gone 91 consecutive regular-season series of at least two decisions (no ties) without being swept.

* The Orioles went 32-20 (.615) against AL East foes, the seventh-best record against the division in club history. And they won the season series against the Blue Jays (10-3), Rays (8-5), Red Sox (7-6), and Yankees (7-6), the first time since 2014 that the O’s have won the season series against each of their division opponents.

* Furthermore, after losing their first two series against AL East teams during the year, the club went 10-0-4 in their last 14 division series, surpassing the 1969 team (13 series) for the most consecutive series against AL East opponents without a series loss, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

* Skipper Brandon Hyde joined Hall of Famer Earl Weaver as the only O’s managers to lead the club to a 100-win season. Hyde earned his 300th managerial win on Sept. 4 at the Los Angeles Angels, joining Weaver (1,480), Buck Showalter (669), Paul Richards (517), and Hank Bauer (407) as managers with 300 wins in an O’s uniform.

* The Orioles set a single-season franchise record with 1,431 strikeouts. O’s hitters scored 807 runs this year, the seventh-most in a single season in club history and most since scoring 842 in 2004. Baltimore’s +129 run differential was the club’s best since 1997 (+131) and tied with the 1975 team for 10th in O’s history.

* The O’s led the AL with 48 comeback wins, tied with the Cincinnati Reds for the most in MLB and Baltimore’s 84 comeback wins since the start of 2022 are the most in the AL and second in MLB, behind the Los Angeles Dodgers (86).

* The Orioles secured a winning record in each full calendar month for the first time since 1983, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

So yeah, that was a darn fine season.

They were good at home and on the road. They were good in the close games, in the division and outside of it. They were good from start to finish. They scored a lot of runs and in the second half had the No. 1 team ERA in the AL. They fielded well and ran the bases well too. They were a well-rounded deep team and you need that to win 101 in that division. They had it in the 2023 season.

For me there was not necessarily a defining game or moment from the year. But I thought their performance in May was very big. They had a 19-game run where they went 12-7 versus the Braves, Rays, Pirates, Angels, Blue Jays and Yankees. They ended that stretch going 3-0 at Toronto and 2-1 at New York. They ended May as a team that was battle-tested and passed those battles with flying colors.

In September on back-to-back weekends, they split four-game series with Tampa Bay and Cleveland where they lost the first two but won the last two games. Each time they were clinging to the division lead. It could have gotten away if they go 1-3 or 0-4 in either series. The Rays came to Baltimore Sept. 14 two games behind and won two to tie the Orioles. But they left town two games out.

The O’s showed real toughness in September, playing without closer Felix Bautista who got hurt in late August. The ALDS was about the only time they looked fallible all year. Maybe the lack of playoff experience caught up to them.

Going into next season, all those players now have some playoff experience.

So now, bring on 2024.



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