Before the 2012 MLB season began the Baltimore Orioles were seen as an afterthought by most, and based on previous success, why not? With a starting rotation headlined by SP Wei-Yin Chen not much blame can be placed on the naysayers.
However, after enjoying their first winning season since 1998, the doubters continue to rain on the Orioles parade. Perhaps those pessimists will have the last laugh, but nevertheless I believe the Baltimore faithful will have plenty reason to continue cheering.
Not only is one starter on the Orioles over 30 years old , but the poise and composure on this team is incredible. Look no further than Baltimore’s 29-9 record in one run games in 2012, a stat that alone gives the Orioles some credibility even from the hardest critics. Closer Jim Johnson has an American league leading 51 saves on the season along with a vert respectable 2.49 ERA through 68.2 innings. During crucial moments this postseason, keep in mind that this team has been there and done that, in terms of winning close games.
Last but not least, don’t underestimate Oriole manager Buck Showalter‘s baseball experience. The two time Manager of the Year is inline for his third such award, and deservingly so. It has been well documented just how difficult the AL East has been throughout the decade. Divisional rivals Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees have made the Baltimore team what they are today. Much like the Joe Maddon led Rays did in 2008, Showalter and his team will use these tough divisional series to there advantage here in October. Furthermore, the comparisons between that Tampa Bay team and this Baltimore club are eerily similar. Young arms like Matt Garza, Scott Kazmir and James Shields can be likened to the 2012 success of Tommy Hunter, Jason Hammell and Miguel Gonzalez. Furthermore, 3B Manny Machado has turned heads and looked comfortable since the beginning, much like 3B Evan Longoria did four summers ago down in Tampa.
While I’m not crowning the Baltimore Orioles MLB champions just yet, the urge to dismiss this team because of the franchises recent struggles is highly ignorant and should be avoided.