Connect with us


Baltimore Orioles 2023 Mid-Season Report

After being surprisingly competitive last season, the Orioles are leading the pack for a Wild Card, and they can still win the AL East.

When American sports leagues first created their postseasons, it was generally based on the idea that the top-placed teams alone should advance to the championship. This notion created the adage, “second place is the first loser.” However, many teams over the years have proven this sentiment to be misguided. This is most certainly true of the Baltimore Orioles, who, despite remaining two games back of the Tampa Bay Rays, are proving to be the most formidable team in Major League Baseball.

Absolutely nobody could have predicted this turnaround two years ago after the Birds ended their third full season in a row with 100+ losses. Yet last year the team turned their fortunes around with a win increase of 37 games to compete for a Wild Card spot. They are seeing more of the same success this year, with the team on pace for 98 wins while holding onto the first Wild Card. Some preseason predictions had the Orioles above .500 and in contention for the postseason. Now it appears that everything is working at peak capacity in Baltimore as they gear up for October for the first time since 2016.

At this point in the season, with so many starters playing well enough to not merit a trade, it simply comes down to which bench players are the most expendable. Perhaps Baltimore could improve on C James McCann or get a veteran to play in front of the rookies. Those two options seem the most viable, yet bullpen pieces are always nice to add. Manager Brandon Hyde has done a great job keeping this young team focused on reaching the playoffs where perhaps a showdown with division rivals awaits.


Of all the players snubbed of an All-Star selection, OF Anthony Santander stands out as the team’s most dangerous player despite the lack of recognition. Tony Taters leads the team in homers and RBIs, and he is tied for the lead in runs. Last year he had 33 home runs and 138 hits, and he is on pace for similar numbers this season but without receiving the credit he deserves. Perhaps he is simply overshadowed by teammates C Adley Rutschman and OF Austin Hays, both of whom are deservedly going to Seattle.

Overall, the entire offense is mediocre from the surface-level numbers alone. No player has more than 50 RBIs or 16 home runs, and Hays is the only qualifier with an average over .300. But the spread of production disguises how good the Orioles have been at scoring runs alongside all their close wins. Baltimore is in the top third in runs per game and have played more games decided by four runs or else than any team. The O’s are five games above their Pythagorean record with a run differential of +48, and look to continue the good fortune.



So far, the rotation has been decent but not outstanding. No starter has an ERA below 3.00, and only SP Tyler Wells has accrued 100 strikeouts, but no starter has more than six losses either, implying they are usually competitive. The most recognizable name, SP Kyle Gibson, is unsurprisingly the highest-paid player on the O’s. But his ERA is only 4.60, with an ERA+ of 91. Wells, with a 3.18 ERA, is passing Gibson as the team’s de facto ace. SP Dean Kremer has the best record on the staff at 9-4, which only means he receives better run support. The team ERA of 4.14 is 16th in MLB, but they are 8th in strikeouts.


The relief corps is where the Orioles really shine. RP Yennier Cano and CP Felix Bautista both earned All-Star bids for the first time. Each of them have ERA’s below 1.50 and WHIP’s below 1.00. Bautista is on pace to collect 40 saves by the end of the season. RPs Bryan Baker and Danny Coulombe have also been vital to the team’s success, but the O’s could use more help in middle relief. In today’s game where the last few innings matter most, the Orioles have built a bullpen that is perhaps best suited for finishing off wins.

The “New” Ballpark

For its entire history until 2022, Camden Yards was famous for starting the retro-city trend, but also for the low fence in left field. There were plenty of home run robberies, and even more “long” balls than just snuck over outfielders’ heads. But last year the team moved the wall back 26 feet and raised six feet to even out the dimensions. This turned many homers into routine fly outs and a few extra-base hits. Now instead of looking uniform, there is a cavernous space reminiscent of the awkward power alleys at old Yankee Stadium.

This year, righties are hitting plenty of doubles, but Orioles home run totals are down. That is true of the visitors as well, but it does show the side effect of suppressing opponents’ offense. The front office knew it would hurt their own offense, and they have accepted the tradeoff. Pushing the wall back helped bring Gibson to Baltimore, but opening up the wallets more would go further in improving the roster without changing the character of the ballpark.

Tale of the Birds’ Nest

Much of the success of the ballclub overall is attributed to the analytical minds of GM Mike Elias and assistant GM Sig Mejdal, who together have created a team primarily built around advanced sabermetrics and extracting the most value from a small-payroll team. Just a single player on the active squad is earning eight figures annually and the active payroll of the entire team is just under $70 million. That number is the second lowest in all of baseball, only above the Oakland Athletics and eight million less than the next highest club, the Tampa Bay Rays. Let that sink in. Perhaps the two best teams in baseball comprise two of the bottom three spots in team payroll this season. No wonder some baseball fans hate the idea of “buying championships” so much.

The Orioles have four men in Seattle for the All-Star Game: Rutschman, Hays, Bautista, and Cano. This will be Baltimore’s largest All-Star contingent since their last playoff season in 2016, which hopefully is a harbinger of things to come in October for a team that has yet to win a title this century. Perhaps this will
improve the popularity of the Birds such that the fans will begin to fill up the stadium as the season’s end nears. They haven’t drawn two million fans since 2017.

One Baffling Moment for the Orioles

Last week, Brandon Hyde was the victim of the dumbest, most confusing ejection of the year. When New York Yankees RP Wandy Peralta hit OF Colton Cowser with a pitch in a 14-0 game, the home plate umpire warned both benches even the Orioles had done nothing to warrant a warning. Hyde came out to argue the warning and the umpire immediately threw him out. Some ejections are fair, others go too far, and then there is this ejection. A reasonable person would ignore the situation and move on.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Featured Articles

Featured Writers

More in Features