Orioles Optimism

Although the sun has set on Camden Yards for the 2023 season, there is a bright future ahead for the Baltimore Orioles. 

Heading into the MLB offseason, the Orioles are coming off their first 100-win season since 1980 and their first division title since 2014. Although it was short lived, there is much to be optimistic about. Just a year after they lost 110 games in 2021, the Orioles brought up their top prospect in catcher Adley Rutschman. The call up sparked new life into an Orioles franchise that had been lacking any sort of resemblance of that life the past few years. The team never looked back after that moment and has been surging ever since. With the additions of infielder Gunnar Henderson and pitcher Grayson Rodriguez, the Orioles have become one of the best young teams in all of baseball.  Henderson just won the American League Rookie of the Year, and he and Adley Rutschman each earned Silver Slugger Awards. Other young/emerging stars include Ryan Mountcastle, Anthony Santander, Cedric Mullins, and Austin Hays, with the latter three being a part of those dark years. Manager Brandon Hyde, who was hired in the 2018 offseason, won AL Manager of the Year. The Orioles are the only team in MLB history to go from losing 110 (2021) or more games to winning 100 plus in a three season span. However, this isnt where it stops. 

The Orioles also have the best farm system in all of baseball, with Jackson Holliday being their top overall prospect (also the top prospect according to MLB). Holliday, the number one overall pick in the 2021 draft, absolutely raked in Triple-A (the highest level of the minor leagues) in his first full season of pro ball. He’s only 19, so the Orioles may not call him up so soon in 2024, but he will no doubt eventually get the call. When Holliday arrives in Baltimore, the left side of the infield will consist of Gunnar Henderson at third and Jackson Holliday at short. Other top prospects include Coby Mayo, Joey Ortiz, and Connor Norby, all infielders. 

Although their playoff run ended earlier than they hoped, most if not all of the players on the roster had never experienced postseason baseball. They lost three straight games to the Texas Rangers, who seemed to hit the ground running at the perfect time (the Rangers just won their first World Series title in franchise history). Throughout the season, it was clear to fans that the Orioles’ most concerning position was pitching. In fact, adding a quality starting pitcher will be  necessary if General Manager Mike Elias wants his team to make a deep run in October. Too many times did the Orioles open a game with a strong start only for that lead to be shrunk in half. They were able to win most of their games due to their resilience and timely hitting, but no team is ever going to win big when it matters with that formula. They need to go into this offseason in pursuit of another pitcher to accompany Kyle Bradish, Grayson Rodriguez, and Dean Kremer. A reliable arm in the rotation, combined with the young talent and veteran experience, postseason experience, and the Orioles have a surefire World Series contender for years to come. 

When asked what his thoughts were on the season, Mr. Solomon said: β€œI’m really excited, really excited for all Orioles fans.” He stated that there were lots of doubts around the league about what the team could do. And this is true. The Orioles only had a 10.4% chance of making the playoffs according to FanGraphs. Mrs. Emory was the most optimistic about: β€œThe fact that they got to the playoffs. That’s going to kick up their ability to spend a little bit more.”  The increase in attendance will allow Elias to invest in some much needed help in the rotation and the bullpen. 

What people should be most excited about however, is the fact that this is only the beginning. The Orioles have a plethora of talent still in the minor leagues that will be a huge part of this team’s future, and the fact that they already have a roster with the talent to make it far in October is really exciting. The Baltimore Orioles are set for the present and for the long future. This team should be in the playoffs and contending for the World Series for many years to come. 2023 was only the prelude to something special brewing in Baltimore.