There wasn’t a team in baseball that looked better than the Baltimore Orioles did in June. They finished the month 19-9 and entered July with a comfy five game lead on the second place Boston Red Sox in the AL East.
The Birds mashed 56 homers, the most by any club in June, and fell just two shy of the record for most by any club in a single month (58 by the Orioles in May 1987 and Mariners in May 1999).
Seven Orioles had on base percentages of .350 or higher in June. Five Orioles hit above .300 for the month.
July was a bit different.
The Birds finished the month with an extra-inning win in Toronto, salvaging a game in the series and maintaining half a game lead in the East over the Blue Jays. July was the Orioles first losing month of 2016, they finished 12-14.
They followed a 56 homer month with just 29. Two Orioles had OBP’s of higher than .350 for the month. Two hit above .300 in July.
First half MVP Manny Machado slashed just .204/.288/.337 for the month. Chris Davis had an 0-for-24 stretch and finished July with a .153/.273/.271 slashline. Matt Wieters was even worse, .117/.194/.133 with a -19 wRC+ in 67 plate appearances.
The one constant that the Birds saw between June and July was the performance of their starting rotation. O’s starters in June pitched to a 5.56 ERA (5.07 FIP) — and the team still won 19 games. Crazy, I know. In July their ERA dipped to a still bad 5.18 ERA (5.08 FIP).
The Orioles bullpen, the strongest part of the club, actually saw a bit of improvement. Their team ERA dipped from 3.79 (4.14 FIP) in June to 2.95 (3.66 FIP) in July. Darren O’Day‘s return from injury and 0.00 ERA in 3.1 innings helps that number a bit. As do the shutout performances of Logan Ondrusek, Jayson Aquino and Donnie Hart.
So which team are the 2016 Baltimore Orioles? Are they the June mashers or the July clunkers?
Neither. They’re something in between. They’re a much better offensive club than they looked to be in July, with a dominant bullpen and bad starting pitching. They’re the 59-45 club on August 1 who has a real chance of winning the AL East for the second time in three seasons.