Examining the Curious Case of the 2022 Baltimore Orioles

In March of this year, the Baltimore Orioles were regarded as one of the league’s worst teams, quite justifiably as well. Over the span of 2017-2021, the Orioles compiled five losing seasons, three of which included 100 loss seasons. Last season, the Orioles finished tied for the league’s worst record at 52-110.

The Baltimore Orioles have been in a monumental rebuild, expectations coming into the 2022 season were meek, as the team was seen as a likely bottom of the cellar team.

The turnaround of the Baltimore Orioles has become a big story across MLB media outlets, but before this miraculous Cinderella season took a turn for the better, there were two very fateful months of baseball.

The Orioles started off the season as many expected, the losing of recent seasons seemed doomed to repeat itself. With a record of 7-14 during the month of April, the Orioles fell to last place in the AL East. May was a month of new beginnings for a seemingly underwhelming team. The new beginning came for Baltimore on May 22 when they called up number one prospect Adley Rutschman. The Orioles were a division worst 16-25 prior to Rutschman’s callup. However, since the fateful call-up, the Orioles are a division best 63-46. Since his introduction to big league ball, Rutschman has made a name for himself, providing highlight reel plays behind the plate and in the batters’ box on a nightly basis.

While Rutschman’s call to the majors has marked the Orioles’ turnaround, the biggest catalyst of the drastic improvement is the pitching. In 2021, the Orioles ranked last in team ERA (5.84), second last in strikeouts (1234), while allowing a league worst .273 average to opposing batters and allowing the most runs in all of MLB (910). As of September 24, Baltimore pitching is ranked in the top half of the league in team ERA (3.91) and WHIP (1.27). Rookies Kyle Brandish and Dean Kramer have proved to be solid mainstays in a rotation that has been a revolving carousel in years past. Dillon Tate (2.75 ERA), Coinel Perez (1.34 ERA), and Felix Bautista (2.23 ERA) have anchored the O’s bullpen with impressive breakout seasons.

Entering Sunday’s play, the Orioles are 79-72 and fighting for a playoff spot as they are four games behind the final Wild Card spot. The 2022 Orioles squad is a curious case. The team is not led by any one star, rather a collection of talent that has been developing in the minors. After having an MVP-caliber season in 2021, Cedric Mullins has disappointed in 2022. Anthony Santander has been having a quietly good season alongside fellow teammate Ryan Mountcastle. While the Orioles have lacked a star, 2022 has proven to be the year of the future. Rookies Adley Rutschman, Kyle Stowers and, more recently, Gunnar Henderson have all had impressive showings in their first campaigns in the big leagues. Rookies have shown to be the difference-makers in an impressive season, while giving the whole league a look into the future stars of the game.

A little piece of every baseball fan is rooting for the Orioles. Baltimore has the rare chance to defy the odds and make the playoffs after being written off before the season even began. Regardless of how the Orioles finish the season, one thing the 2022 season has proven is that the Orioles are going to be good for a long time.