The Baltimore Orioles lost their 100th game of the season with 21 games still to play. As of this morning, the O’s record stands at 41-102; they have lost their last 4 games, and they have lost 8 of their last 10 games. This is an epically bad year for the franchise. Based on their winning percentage at the moment, the Orioles project a final season record of 46-116.
The Orioles’ franchise has been around since 1954; that was the year that the hapless St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore. The Browns/Orioles at the time were a pretty sorry lot and in that first season in Baltimore, the team won only 54 games finishing the season at 54-100. [That was before MLB expanded the season from 154 games to 162 games.]
The other low-water mark for the Orioles’ franchise came in 1988 when the team lost its first 21 games of the season. As you might imagine, it was a bit difficult for that Orioles’ team to climb out of a hole that deep; the team never really did that and finished the year with a record of 54-107.
The Orioles have never had a season where the won fewer than 54 games since they started play in Baltimore and this year’s team would need a Hollywood ending to get to 54 wins. There are 19 games left on the Orioles’ schedule – and with Hurricane Florence threatening to interfere with MLB schedules over the next week or so – it is not a certainty that the Orioles will play all 162 of their scheduled games. None of the remaining games matter to the O’s; six of their remaining games are against the White Sox or the Blue Jays and none of those six games matter to the opponents. Any rainouts there could well be ignored by the end of the season.
All of this is to say that the Orioles “best case scenario” to win 54 games this year to avoid being the worst team in franchise history is for them to win 13 of their last 19 games. That would ask the team to play at a winning percentage of .684 when they have been playing at a winning percentage of .287. It is not impossible – – but highly unlikely.
Looking for a ray of hope in that mess, Bob Molinaro had this comment in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:
“Baltimore motorists are the worst in the nation, according to a new study.
“No wonder the Orioles barely cracked the top 25 when it comes to runs driven in.”
When a team is in the midst of a season that bad, one of the things to ponder is the likelihood that the manager will be around for the next season. Before going any further, I want to state categorically that the Orioles’ miserable showing in 2018 is NOT the fault of managerial actions taken or not taken by Buck Showalter. Baseball fans should recall times when teams solidly overachieved because several players on the team all had “career years” in the same season. What has happened to the O’s in 2018 is the mirror image of that situation; just about everyone on the Orioles’ squad has underperformed the norm and, in some cases, has underperformed the norm by a lot. None of that is the manager’s doing…
Obviously, I would not part company with Buck Showalter if I were the owner of the Orioles – – but I am not the team owner. The owner in Baltimore is Peter Angelos and some of his decisions in the past have been mercurial to say the least. In my mind, there is a much more fundamental question that needs to be considered when thinking about Buck Showalter’s future with the team:
- Does Buck Showalter – at age 62 – want to sign on to a total tear down and rebuild of a team?
Make no mistake; that is what the Orioles immediate future has in store for the manager and the GM. A well-plotted rebuild married with the good fortune of no serious injuries to any of the top developmental players is going to take 3 years or more. I am not suggesting that Showalter is ready for a rocking chair and the early-bird specials in Boca Raton, but it is fair to ask if he wants to put up with plenty of losing for the next several years at this point in his life/career.
As soon as the MLB season is over, the stories and rumors of managerial movements will kick into high gear. John Gibbons is not coming back with the Blue Jays next year; that is pretty much cast in stone; my suspicion is that Gibbons realizes that the Jays need to embark on a strategic rebuilding project and that he does not want to be organizer of that sort of goat rodeo.
I will be interested to see how Mike Scioscia fares in this off-season. Scioscia has been the Angels manager since 2000; he guided the Angels to a World Series win in 2002. However, since 2010, the Angels have been in the playoffs only one time and if they finish below .500 in 2018, that will be the 3rd year in a row the team has done that. Normally, that gets a manager fired, but normally a manager does not stay in the same job for 18 seasons…
There is an interesting stat to consider this morning in the NL East. The Phillies are 3.5 games ahead of the Nats in the standings. For the season, the Nats have outscored their opponents by 70 runs despite a barely sub-.500 record of 71-72. Meanwhile, the Phillies have been outscored by their opponents by 13 runs over the course of the season but find themselves with a positive 74-68 record. The only other team in MLB over .500 with a negative run differential for the season is the Seattle Mariners.
Finally, this baseball note about the Washington Nationals comes courtesy of Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:
“The Washington Nationals have been 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 9-9, 10-10, 16-16, 17-17, 42-42, 43-43, 45-45, 46-46, 47-47, 48-48, 49-49, 51-51, 52-52, 53-53, 60-60, 61-61, 62-62, 63-63, 64-64, 66-66, 67-67, 68-69 and 69-69 this season.
“In a related story, the Nats have just been named the official baseball team of the Indianapolis 500.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………