2012 MLB Season Preview: Baltimore Orioles

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After Buck Showalter came in to take over the Orioles towards the end of the 2010 season and had his young team finish 34-23 down the stretch, there were some high expectations for Baltimore to come out of the gate and contend for a playoff spot for the first time since 1997. Allowing the new Baltimore skipper to have an entire Spring Training to instill how he wants his team to play the game would only make this team better and take more steps forward in 2011…or so he thought.

September 16, 2011; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter (26) watches the action in the third inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

 

The O’s took that momentum through Spring Training and into the first week of the season, when they swept the Rays, beat the Tigers twice, and then took down the Rangers all within the first seven games of 2011, pushing them to a 6-1 record. Unfortunately, that was one of the hottest streaks they had all season. After that hot start, Baltimore put themselves in a hole by losing eight straight; Showalter’s club scratched and clawed to hang around .500, but they experienced a terrible 29-game stretch from the middle of June to the middle of July, posting a 6-23 record. After that skid, Baltimore virtually sealed their fate in the basement of the American League East division, not being any closer than 20 games to first place.

Even though the Orioles finished 2011 with a 69-93 record and 28 games back in the AL East, they did solidify their young core of position players, which includes Matt Wieters, Mark Reynolds, J.J. Hardy and Nick Markakis. On the mound, Zach Britton had a solid year and the coaching believes that he can be a part of their future, but Brian Matusz took two big steps back. Jim Johnson and Pedro Strop were bright spots in an O’s bullpen that struggled overall in 2011.

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Tags: 2012 MLB Season Preview Adam Jones AL East Baltimore Orioles Buck Showalter Featured J.J. Hardy Mark Reynolds Matt Wieters Nick Markakis Popular

  • http://calltothepen.com/ SorianoJoe

    Two big steps back? Only the great ones, haha. I feel bad for the O’s, because it’s tough trying to rebuild in a division where the other teams are all above-average. I have high hopes for Britton but not for Matusz. And that Guthrie deal made no sense for either team, but at least the Orioles got a useful reliever out of it.

  • http://on-the-way-home.org musicom

     @SorianoJoe Thanks for the comment, Joe. I agree with the Guthrie deal; maybe they wanted to start all over again with their pitching staff, and that’s what they’ve done with shipping him away. It’s definitely tough to rebuild in a division like the AL East. We’ll see how they respond to things this year.

  • WarehouseWorthy

    This season will go about as far as the pitching will take it.  Last year the offense finished 12th in wRC+ and wOBA, while finishing 8th and 6th in the AL in those respective stats.  I expect the offense to be (at least marginally) better in 2012.  If the pitching comes around and shows promise, this team could win 80 – 85 games easy.  If it’s more of the same from last year, it will be around the 70s that everyone seems to be projecting.

  • http://on-the-way-home.org musicom

     @WarehouseWorthy Thanks for the comment. It will be interesting to see how the pitching shapes up towards the end of Spring because it seems like it’s as wide open as it could possibly be. I just saw today that Brian Matusz threw four scoreless today. Maybe he’s going to turn a corner.