The 2022 Baltimore Orioles were not expected to be amongst the top teams in the majors; that was well-known.
They were headed into a fourth season of a massive over haul of the entire organization, with many top prospects expected to make their debuts at some point during the year.
It was fair to say the biggest weakness of the Orioles was their pitching staff. Past John Means and Jordan Lyles, it was a mystery of what and who would be placed on the mound.
The bullpen was an even bigger question mark, with basically the whole back end of the staff being a smorgasbord of who’s who. Oriole fans were expected to face another hard year of losing.
Offensively, you could say that 2022 has gone as bad as most beat writers and pundits expected, maybe worse to be honest. But they also aren’t as bad as teams like the Arizona Diamondbacks, Pittsburgh Pirates and, surprisingly, the Cincinnati Reds.
After 10 games, the Orioles are batting an abysmal .109 with RISP (10-for-92). This, unfortunately, ranks near the bottom of the league, as you would expect.
Shockingly enough, the O’s are sixth lowest in team batting average at .206, but Arizona and Cincinnati are far worse in this category, being joined by playoff picks, the Minnesota Twins and Houston Astros.
Bottom Six in Team Batting Average:
Kansas City: .206
Not that it screams success, but it definitely does not scream the worst either. Needless to say, Baltimore needs help offensively.
Another factor in the Orioles being 4-9 is the amount of strikeouts the lineup has produced. The O’s have struck out more times than any other team in baseball (134).
The Orioles do fall short on the offensive side of the game. I’m not pumping them up as a surprise, but pointing out as bad as they are, there are teams performing worse on offense than the ever-changing lineup that is brought out daily.
Where the Orioles happen to be turning heads though is the pitching department.
Baltimore was supposed to be a giant question mark when it came to pitching. John Means was expected to give quality starts but not win many games. Unfortunately, after eight innings across two games, Means is on the 60-day IL and possibly lost for the year.
Jordan Lyles was signed to eat innings and allow the likes of Grayson Rodriguez, DL Hall and Kyle Bradish to develop in the minors for a majority of the year. No one expected big things from the veteran, but he has been a big surprise, allowing one earned run over his last 12 innings.
His ERA currently sits at 3.52 after three starts, and Lyles (1-1) has pitched at least five innings in each of his outings thus far.
What should be turning the heads of most of the baseball world is how dominant the Orioles’ pitching staff has been overall. Currently, the Orioles rank sixth in the majors with a team ERA of 2.87.
LA Dodgers: 2.38
NY Mets: 2.52
NY Yankees: 2.58
SF Giants: 2.63
CLE Guardians: 2.86
The Orioles are tied with the Mets for the league lead with three shutouts through their first 12 games. The O’s had a total of five shutouts all of 2021.
To start the season, the Orioles are currently seventh in the majors for fewest earned runs allowed with 36, better than teams like the Milwaukee Brewers and Tampa Bay Rays.
What truly has been impressive about the O’s current run is that the bullpen is actually out-performing the starting pitchers.
Led by names like Keegan Akin, Dillon Tate, Joey Krehbiel and Bryan Baker, the bullpen has become a lockdown machine.
Another starter turned bullpen role, Jorge López, has picked up a win and two saves across seven innings, while striking out nine.
Most baseball fans would look at these stats and say, “OK, so they suck on offense and have good pitching.”
Easy to see and point out, the stats back it up. But does that warrant being placed as the worst team in the league?
When a team has been in every game it has played because of strong pitching from front to back, doesn’t that change the perception of being the worst team?
The Reds are 2-11 and losing players left and right. They are in the bottom of the league in most offensive and defensive categories, yet baseball pundits consider them to be a better team.
The Diamondbacks offense is averaging 0.45 runs per game through 11 games and carry an OPS that is 258 points below league average, yet they are considered better than the Orioles.
The Orioles have positioned themselves to be more competitive than most pundits expected, yet they still get labeled and placed as the worst team in the league; we’re looking at you ESPN (B.T.W. – Joon Lee is the writer for ESPN who ranked the O’s in last in their latest power rankings, and he covers the Red Sox… shocker!)
What has to happen for the Orioles to get some respect for what they have put together, regardless of what their record indicates?
I’m not asking for the Birds to be placed as playoff expectant, but there has to be some recognition for a team expected to lose 100+ games to come out and have a pitching staff dominate amongst the best teams in the league, including writers’ favorites, the New York Yankees.
The Orioles aren’t World Series favorites or even expected to compete for the division, but respect has to be given for what has been accomplished with a team that is batting .109 with RISP.
If the offense wakes up, with how the pitching staff has become, it could make for one hell of a fun year. With the kids knocking on the door, all it will take is one big turn, and respect will have to be given.
Until then, the Orioles will just be a team quietly annoying their opponents. Maybe we can get some recognition from them at least.
What do you think of where the O’s rank so far? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on Facebook and Twitter! And, make sure to use the hashtag #baltimorebattery when sharing our content to show your Birdland swag!
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