With general manager Mike Elias running the show, the Baltimore Orioles have been one of baseball’s moving teams in 2023. The Orioles hit their season’s halfway point Saturday with a 48-33 record and a solid grip on the franchise’s first postseason berth since 2016.
That’s a big turnaround from the same point one year ago when the team was 37-44.
Elias, the team’s GM since before the start of the 2019 season, deserves a lot of credit for the turnaround. With only two exceptions, every member of the current Baltimore roster was obtained, signed or brought to the majors by Elias. That very notably includes most of the team’s stars: Austin Hays, Adley Rutschman, Ryan Mountcastle and Tyler Wells.
But it also raises a more immediate shorter-term question: What, if anything, has Elias done since the end of the 2022 season to effect this turnaround? Or is Baltimore’s improvement more a result of the ongoing development of its core.
Grading the Baltimore Orioles at the midway point of the 2023 season
What follows is a mid-term assessment of Elias’s personnel decisions since the conclusion of the 2022 World Series with a particular focus on the extent to which those decisions have helped or hindered the team’s performance.
The standard of measurement is Wins Above Average (WAA), a variant of Wins Above Replacement (WAR). For this purpose, WAA is preferable because unlike WAR, it is zero-based. That means the sum of all the decisions made by Elias impacting the 2023 team gives at least a good estimate of the number of games those moves have improved – or worsened – the team’s status this season.
A team’s front office impacts that team’s standing in five ways. Those five are:
1. By the impact of players it acquires from other teams via trade, purchase or waiver claim.
2. By the impact of players it surrenders to other teams in those same transactions.
3. By the impact of players it signs at free agency or extends.
4. By the impact of players it loses to free agency or releases.
5. By the impact of players it promotes from its own farm system.
Here’s how Elias stacks up by those five yardsticks.