The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
Periodically, I will post new entries about current baseball topics.  The posts will typically be a mixture of commentary, history, facts, and stats.  Hopefully, they will provoke some  of your thoughts or emotions. Clicking on the word "Comments" associated with each post below will open a new dialog box to enter or retrieve any feedback.
Who are these O's?

If I said the names Altuve, Bregman, Correa, Springer, Verlander, and Cole, you’d immediately know I was talking about the Houston Astros.  But if I said Sucre, Villar, Ruiz, Mullins, and Rickard, you’d probably ask which minor league team this was.  But in fact they are players who are part of the starting lineup for the current Baltimore Orioles.  In fact, the squad is filled with a bunch of inexperienced, “no-name” players who have little chance of being a competitive team.

The Orioles are one of the latest teams to have overhauled their roster in the hopes of rebuilding a winning team over the next few years through the acquisition of top prospects and player development in their farm system.  In the meantime, the organization will be subjecting its fans to disastrous seasons with a roster of players that don’t have much major-league experience.  Last year the team won only 47 games; it was their worst season in franchise history.  This season doesn’t bode well either.

The Orioles last won a division title in 2014 when they featured Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis, Nelson Cruz, Jonathan Schoop, and a 21-year-old “phenom” shortstop named Manny Machado.

Machado proceeded to become the face of the Orioles and one of the premier infielders in the game.  However, when he was traded last July to the Los Angeles Dodgers for five minor-league players, it signaled that Baltimore had packed it in for the 2018 season, as well as for the foreseeable future.

Only slugging first baseman Chris Davis remains from that 2014 team.  The only reason he’s still there is his lofty salary no other team wants.  The Orioles liked him so much following his 47 home runs in 2015 (he had hit 53 dingers in 2013) that they signed him to a new contract valued at $161 million.  However, for the past two seasons, his production has fallen off dramatically.  He’s become the poster child for strikeouts in an era in the major leagues when overall strikeouts exceed the number of hits.  Davis had one of the worst seasons in history in 2018 when his batting average was .168 and his slugging percentage didn’t break .300.  His WAR (Wins Above Replacement) last year was negative 2.8.

In fact the entire roster of position players had a combined negative WAR last year, which could be interpreted as they weren’t as good as a team of replacement players from Triple-A.

The sad part about the Orioles’ situation is that Davis is one of their better players this year.  They also have serviceable second baseman Jonathan Villar and outfielder Trey Mancini, but none of the rest on the roster has appeared in more than 300 career games.  Most of them would have a hard time even being a utility player on another major-league roster, much less a starter.  Dwight Smith Jr. is one of the few recognizable names among the position players, but it’s only because his father was a former major leaguer for eight seasons.

The Orioles’ pitching staff has a few more recognizable names than the position players, but they are combination of retreads and relative inexperience, too.  Only one of their pitchers had an ERA+ above 100 (average for the league) last season.

Even the Orioles’ manager is relatively unknown.  After the Orioles fired its popular, long-time manager Buck Showalter following last season, new manager Brandon Hyde is in his first season as a major-league skipper.  Hyde had previously been a first-base coach and bench coach in the Cubs organization.  He has the unenviable task of trying to motivate a team that doesn’t expect to win many games this year, especially against division rivals Red Sox, Yankees, and Rays.  He is a highly-regarded baseball man, but the cards are stacked against his having much success in his debut year.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1969 New York Mets team that won its first World Series.  The 2019 Orioles team would never be confused with the Amazin’ Mets.  Instead they are more likely to resemble the inaugural Mets team that won only 40 games in 1962.

Add a Comment

(Enter the numbers shown in the above image)