Five Reasons The Orioles Will Be Even Better In 2013

As any O’s fan can attest, the 2012 season was arguably the most fun since 1989. There have been other O’s teams that were more successful since then, but for sheer enjoyment, I’d contend that there wasn’t a better iteration since the “Why Not?” season of ’89. The O’s were easily the surprise of baseball last year, for both baseball pundits as well as true blue fans of the team.

No one saw a 93-win team coming, nor a team that was one game away from going to the ALCS. If you believe the aforementioned pundits, the Orioles were successful because of some kind of combination of sheer luck and hocus-pocus. As if the Birds were sacrificing chickens (no pun intended) on a nightly basis and somehow that carried them through to the playoffs.

I’ve always been a proponent of the phrase “it’s better to be lucky than good”, but in the 2012 Orioles case, from someone who watched them night in and night out, they were really, really good. Can they build on the success of 2012? More importantly, will they? Despite what the current issue of ESPN The Magazine says, I say yes and yes.

I’m no stat geek. I couldn’t tell you what FIP is, what FIPx is, and when someone mentions WAR, the first thing that comes to mind is the song by Edwin Starr (“War/what is it good for?/absolutely nothing/say it again”). I’m old school, I still look at ERA and Batting Average as important statistics, combined with the “eye test”, I couldn’t care less about what the Keith Laws of the world think about things such as run differential.

When I say the O’s will continue their success in 2013, it’s really just a feeling in my gut. To paraphrase SI’s Peter King, here are 5 things I think I know when it comes to the 2013 Baltimore Orioles.

1. The bullpen will be just as good, if not better

Everyone knows the 2012 bullpen was THE driving force for the team’s success last year. Jim Johnson had a career year for anyone when it comes to the saves stat, Pedro Strop (until faltering a bit late in the year) was great as the 8th inning set-up guy, and of course Darren O’Day was Mr. Everything as the 7th inning (sometimes more) bridge to Strop. Confidence goes a long way, and I really believe there’s no more confident bullpen in the American League. Now that the roles are truly defined, I expect this bullpen to achieve even greater heights in 2013. They will get a huge boost from #2 on my list.

2. The starting rotation will be the surprise of baseball

This is where all of the pundits will look when degrading the O’s chances in 2013. It’s the same old story. Since they haven’t heard of half of the rotation, they will assume that the Orioles have no pitching. Surprise, pundits! There’s a surplus. After the locks of Hammel/Chen/Gonzo, many say there’s 2 spots available. I actually say 1.5 spots, because I pencil(no ink) in Tillman at the #4. If he builds on his 2012 season, watch out. Don’t be surprised if Gausman breaks camp with the team, but he’d obviously need to have a lights out Spring. I just have a feeling there’s three 15+ game winners in the rotation in Hammel/Chen/Gonzo, and double digits at the 4 and 5. Again, gut feeling.

3. The defense will be one of the best in the AL

The O’s won’t have to go 29-9 again in 1-run games this season because they will have a better defense. It’s simple really. Less errors means less extending innings which means less pitches thrown which means fresher pitchers throughout the season. All of that together equates to more “wins in regulation”. Manny Machado shoring up the infield had a huge effect on the team late in 2012, now they get that for a full season (barring injuries) along with Gold Glovers up the middle and in the outfield, I foresee the O’s winning some of those same games they lost in May-June of last year.

4. (and 5). Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette

I put these two together because it just simply feels right. They are the Oscar and Felix of Major League Baseball, a truly odd couple that just work great together. Duquette makes personnel decisions, but he doesn’t seem to interfere with how the pieces are played; he shows full trust in the manager. Showalter is in my opinion the best manager in the AL, proving this by managing circles around Ron Washington in the wild card game last year, and even though it was in a loss, he pretty much did the same to Girardi in the ALDS. No other manager comes more prepared to put his guys in a position to win, and I don’t think any other manager has a team that wants to win more for their manager than the O’s do for Buck. That goes a long way.

The 2013 Orioles will win 90+ games again. They have a young and talented nucleus, something the preseason predictions seem to forget. For the first time in 15 years, they are coming into a new baseball season fresh off of a playoff appearance; this can’t be downplayed. Baseball is such a mental game, and like I said earlier, confidence goes a long way. They now know they are good enough to play with anyone on any night. Expectations are high not just among the fan base, but among the powers that be in the organization and the players themselves. This combined with the chip on their shoulders undoubtedly born from the usual naysayers will carry them through this 2013 campaign. Will they meet these expectations? I undoubtedly say yes.

Winston Rigsby is contributor to BaltimoreSportsReport.com. You can follow him on Twitter @W_R_R.

Sports Without Charm. BaltimoreSportsReport.com features fan coverage and analysis of the Baltimore Orioles, Baltimore Ravens, Washington Capitals, Maryland Terrapins and Towson Tigers.

15 Comments

  1. MGW

    February 28, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Here’s hoping you’re right, Winston. I think Buck is a brilliant baseball mind and I still contend, if things were as sour as some folks say, Buck would have taken his 96 wins and moved on to greener pastures where the paychecks would have been just as good as he got here. He believes in what the organization is doing and wants to put his mark on it.

  2. STEVE

    February 28, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Orioles will be awesome in 2013!!!!

  3. ANDREW

    February 28, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    The three basics for playoff caliber teams is #1 good coaching, we have that (and then some) #2 a super super solid core and counting hitters, starting pitchig, and bullpen I really totally believe we have that (and 90 pecent of it is young) and a good front office. These are the things that teams who year in year out are in the playoffs have. I without a doubt believe we have these things in place so I agree with WINSTON we can be better this season…….GO O’S !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Ravens2488

    March 1, 2013 at 4:58 am

    So you guys saying the Orioles will be better this year. Last year they won 93 games. I will take everyone of you up on that comment and wager you they don’t win 94 games or more! You said they will be better not me so put your money where your mouth is!

    Steve? Andrew? Come on… $100 they don’t win 94+ games this year. You in? We give Zach from BSR the money to hold…

    • Eric Abel

      March 2, 2013 at 2:14 pm

      By the way, Flacco contract is too early… He needed a another year to say he deserves highest paid quarterback. I bet you Ravens don’t make it in the playoffs this year.

      • Ravens2488

        March 3, 2013 at 11:20 am

        Eric Abel – I agree with you on Flacco. In fact, I’m not a Flacco fan. Highest paid player in the NFL? What a joke! The guy had 4 great games in a row but if you go back and look, his receivers made him look great. Flacco’s throws weren’t spot on. Look at how in the Broncos and 49ers game on those two long passes how the receiver had to sit and wait for the ball to get there! Those receivers deserve the big paydays not Flacco. The guy is average. And how many times are Flaccos totals padded by dump passes to Rice?

        Nah, I think the Ravens made a big ass mistake by signing Flacco to that money. 5 years, $70 mil should have been the number. And yes, I agree they should have “Franchised” him this year.

        As for making the playoffs, they have a hard schedule next year, the Bengals and Steelers are better so I can see where they don’t make the playoffs.

        You see Eric, I bleed purple and black but I don’t wear blinders. Just like the Orioles I will call out the team or management.

    • MGW

      March 3, 2013 at 7:57 pm

      Orioles actually won 96 games last year. 93 regular season and 3 post season.

      Here’s my thing, you missed all last year saying they couldn’t even be .500 and honestly, it was probably one of the most exciting seasons in their history. All the 1 run games and extra inning games were great. Running off the Yankee and Red Sox fans was also great.

      Now, before this season even plays out you’re telling us all what they can’t do. If you are a fan, you run the risk of missing this whole season waiting for the bottom to fall out again.

  5. DPS

    March 1, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Buckle up baby…World Series here we come!

  6. Willo

    March 1, 2013 at 8:50 am

    Baltimore Sports Report needs to be the first to build a Baltimore baseball campaign around “They are liars, O’s are on fire”. Don’t know if the bull pen can be any better, but the starting pitching will certainly put up more than one 12 gamer, defense will be stellar with possibly 7 gold glovers, throw in Dan and Buck…start printing the shirts.

  7. spy

    March 1, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Let this thing play out on the field,,,,,,,,,see how it goes , you always get hyped up in the spring but lets see how the first third of the season goes and then pass judgement on the pitching, defense , hitting and front office…………..be patient,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  8. Robert

    March 1, 2013 at 9:45 am

    Any analysis of the O’s chances in 2013 that doesn’t mention Dylan Bundy is just a flat out bad article. Bundy may be called up as early as June, he’s more major league ready than Gausman. Bundy not Gausman, will have a significant impact on the team. Regarding #1, bullpens tend to be very inconsistent year to year especially when soo many of the arms are coming off career best seasons, especially Johnson. Lastly, the defense may be better, but let’s not get carried away. Inserting Chris Davis at first base is going to be an adventure, by any defensive metric including using your own two eyes Davis is a subpar first basemen with the glove. He’s a step down from Reynolds at 1B who was surprisingly good there.

  9. Michell

    March 1, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Totally agree about Buck. Best manager in the game, and if Reinhold and Roberts are any good this year, O’s will be strong.

  10. lawnguy64

    March 2, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    I no one thing… Yankees arent going any where, O’s are!!!

    • Whiskey Creek MC

      March 3, 2013 at 11:32 am

      Lawnguy69 you should stick to cutting grass. That education obviously didn’t help you in the spelling department. Like the saying goes “The world needs ditch diggers” and you apparently took that to heart.

  11. Bryan

    March 2, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    I agree with much of what you’re saying, especially with the defense and buck/duquette. I understand where people are coming from in doubting the orioles starting pitching (and if the bullpen can do it again) but I assume like you, I just can’t see how the bullpen and starters can be so good last year, then go back to the 2011 pitching the year after that. It is a scary thought that all of the sudden our starters could be letting up 7 runs a game, and many baseball critics (ESPN) feel that way. Yet, after watching them last year that just doesn’t seem possible. I am so excited to get this year underway and prove everyone wrong again. No better motivation to win than that. Lets go O’s!