They were the #1 movie, the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and the #1 TV show on October 16, 1983. That was the day the Baltimore Orioles won their third World Series Crown, defeating the Philadelphia Phillies 4 games to 1.
34 years! That’s how long it’s been since the Orioles last won the World Series. Now, it’s not as long as the Red Sox or the Cubs had suffered but for a life-long die-hard fan, it does seem like forever. I was in the seventh grade and I remember like it was yesterday the line drive that Ripken Jr. snagged to capture the crown.
The 2017 edition of the Orioles started off on the right foot. Though we had a ton of injuries (most notably Chris Tillman, Zach Britton and JJ Hardy just to name a few), at the end of April, we were in first place with a 15-8 record. Since then, the Orioles have gone 12-16 in both May and June; followed by 12-14 in July. Going into August, the Orioles had a 51-54 record and it looked like their five-year non-losing season streak was in serious jeopardy! But, after having an above average month (17-12), starting September 1st, the birds were flying high at 68-66 and in contention for a wild card berth.
But through the first 11 games in September, the Orioles have gone 3-8 and now the team finds itself at 71-74 (4.5 games behind Minnesota for the second wild card spot) and in seeing it’s postseason chances slip ever so slightly away.
There have been bright spots this season. First, MVP candidate 2B Jonathon Schoop. He’s batting .300 and has hit 31 HRs & 103 RBIs with an .872 OPS (on base percentage + slugging percentage = OPS).
Second, rookie of the year candidate 1B/LF Trey Mancini. In his first full-season, Trey is batting .289 while slugging 22 doubles, 3 triples, 23 HRs & 74 RBIs. He also has a .830 OPS.
The catching trio of Wellington Castillo, Caleb Joseph and Francisco Pena has hit 29 HRs overall and driven in 78 runs and collectively hitting .286.
Late-season acquisition SS Tim Beckham Jr. has had a hot bat since his arrival. Batting .343 with 11 doubles, 2 triples, 9 HRs and 22 RBIs.
Now, the downside.
Both Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis are having below average years. Trumbo is only hitting .241 while Davis has struggled nearly all season, hitting a mere .218. Between the two, they had lead the majors in home runs the past few years but this season, Trumbo only has 23 HRs, Davis 24. Davis has struck out 174 times in 408 at-bats (42.6% of total ABs).
The pitching staff has struggled all season but there have been a couple of bright spots. Dylan Bundy has shown vast improvement (4.03 ERA, a team-high 13 wins, 19 quality starts out of 27 overall starts and a 1.18 WHIP). Zach Britton set the AL consecutive save record with 60 (streak started at the end of the 2016 season) before blowing his first save in two season on August 23rd.
Ubaldo Jimenez has struggled since being traded in 2013 from the Cleveland Indians, Jeremy Hellickson had a great first start after he joined the team in late July but since has fallen flat and a defense that only four years ago set a major league record low 54 errors has suddenly become error-prone. Through 145 games this year, the Orioles have committed 81 errors, which has contributed to a handful of losses. The other glaring stat is their 27-44 away record (44-30 at home).
The last time the Orioles had a losing season was in 2011. They went 69-93 that season. But, if the Cleveland Indians can win 21 games in a row and there are still 17 games left in the season, anything can happen.
Win or lose, I will not give up on my Orioles. But there are times when I think about breaking up with them!