BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 24: Wei-Yin Chen #16 of the Baltimore Orioles reacts after being called for a balk during the sixth inning a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays on July 24, 2012 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
The Baltimore Orioles’ run differential is only eight runs better than the worst team in the American League, yet the O’s find themselves just two games out of the playoff picture.
Baseball seems to have a metric to make sense of everything, but this is one case where you just have to throw your hands up. Baltimore entered tonight’s action with a 53-49 record and -58 run differential. The Kansas City Royals came into the day with a -66 run differential, but they’ve limped to a 41-60 record.
Maybe that suggests the Orioles shouldn’t take a shot, but when are they going to be this close this late again? Who knows. What we do know is Baltimore hasn’t made the playoffs since 1997. I’m not saying they should trade away Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado, they don’t have to sell the farm to make a run, but they should be open to adding salary and going after the rental players so many teams are shying away from.
The O’s rank 10th in the AL in runs scored and only the Seattle Mariners have a lower team on-base percentage. They also rank ninth in ERA and their current rotation has a combined 167 career starts. To put that into perspective, the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays all have at least one pitcher who has more career starts than the entire Baltimore rotation.
The pen has been a strength, as the Orioles have the sixth-best bullpen ERA in baseball at 3.20, but their relievers have combined for the third-worst K/9. When you add it all up, there isn’t a single aspect of this team the front office should feel comfortable with moving forward. They need a bat, they need a starter and they need a power reliever.
It’s easy to sit here and say the O’s should acquire Josh Johnson, Shane Victorino and Jonathan Broxton (just throwing names out there) without really knowing what the asking price is. It’s also easy to say the Baseball Gods have smiled upon the Birds this year. A few key additions could give them the boost to stay in the race.
Sure, the smart money is on the Orioles falling off their current pace, but they’ve made it this far. The front office and ownership should do everything they can to reward the team for overachieving and the fan base for hanging in there through all these years.