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Series Preview: In theory, the Orioles are worse than the Giants

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In theory.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Oof.

Really. Oof.

That’s the Orioles.

But also, the Giants.

Still... I mean... if you look at the Orioles, without even comparing them to the Giants, you’d get the sense that they are worse than the Giants. I really believe that, and I want you to -believe it, too.

Let’s begin at the end: wins and losses. Since the second half of 2016, the Orioles are 177-278 (.389). They’ve been outscored 1,893-2,384 (-491). They were last place in the AL East last year by 61 games. Not a typo — sixty-one (61) games.

The hypothesis that the Orioles are the worst team in baseball has been proven with these results and it’s now sound scientific theory. By virtue of the Giants not being the Orioles, the Giants are not the worst team in baseball.

I think it’s a bummer that the Orioles have fallen so far. Just to show how our youth becomes part of our natural biases as we age, I just think Major League Baseball is better when the Orioles are good. Cal Ripken, Eddie Murray, Frank Robinson as manager — those were the days I remember well. It wasn’t all great, but it was better than this.

And yet, the Giants and the Orioles are on similar paths. Both teams lost their identities last year, prompting ownership to ditch the grizzled old baseball men who’d ushered in the end of their competitive eras in favor of fresh, cutting-edge young(er) minds with elevated roles from their predecessors; both let fan favorite and franchise identifying outfielders walk. Both teams did very, very little to improve their rosters in the offseason, the Orioles even less than the Giants, if that’s possible.

The Orioles thumbed their noses at the new conventional wisdom, eschewing the promise of analytics and disregarding the impact of international players and those two core principles were the driving force behind Baltimore being vaporized from existence, or as close to a sports franchise can get.

The Giants, meanwhile, thought they could keep a good thing going, throwing worse money after bad money and trading away what little depth they had for name recognition. They didn’t loathe analytics, but they did stagnate there and it has cost them dearly, but the Giants still have a better shot at surviving the management-induced coma they’re now in.

The Orioles might never recover, even if they have two of the smartest people currently working in baseball. Mike Elias and Sig Medjal have no doubt dug in to play a long game and rebuild the organization from the ground up, but we’re still talking years before this team can compete against other major league competition and years for the fans to come back. But maybe not, because what do I really know?

Maybe the Orioles will be back to competing two years from now and it’s the Giants who will have to run through a series of Baseball Ops presidents until they find the right one to put together a three-year run of success before another five years of dark ages begin. It’s hard not to think of these two teams as kindred spirits, and now we’re going to be subjected to three games between them.

Three of the more recognizable names won’t even be in this series. Chris Davis, whose record-setting hitless streak not only erased Eugenio Velez from the history books but also became the highlight of the Orioles’ season, is out with a hip injury. Lumbering DH/1B galoot and easy strikeout mark Mark Trumbo had knee surgery. Pitcher Alex Cobb is also on the 60-day IL.

That leaves a long list of previously unknown players and a couple of instances of Wait, he’s on the Orioles now?

Previously unknown

3B — Rio Ruiz (.660 OPS)

Ruiz was a waiver claim this past offseason.

LF — Dwight Smith Jr. (.756 OPS)

The Orioles got him from the Blue Jays right at the start of spring training in exchange for international bonus money.

RF — Trey Mancini (.874 OPS)

He was actually drafted by the Orioles!

DH — Renato Nunez (.771 OPS)

A waiver claim from the Duquette regime last May.

LHP — Paul Fry (3.74 ERA)

A trade with the Mariners for international bonus slot money.

Wait, he’s on the Orioles now?

2B — Jonathan Villar

When Jonathan Villar is on your roster, you know you’re rebuilding. He was with the Astros during the Great Razing, losing 111 games in his first season (2013) before being shipped to Milwaukee after Houston had rebounded to 86-76 in 2015. He was with the Brewers for two and a half seasons, from the end of their rebuild in 2016, through their first bounce back year (86-76 in 2017) and then being traded mid-way through the last season. After joining the Orioles, they went 15-40 the rest of the season and have started this season 17-39. That’s a .445 career winning percentage for Villar.

CF — Keon Broxton

A weird saga for Broxton, who was traded from the Brewers to the Mets in the offseason and then from the Mets to the Orioles.

SP — Dan Straily

The Marlins cut Straily at the end of spring training and the Orioles signed him for the league minimum. He has an 8.38 ERA in eight starts (38.2 IP). That doesn’t look so hot, but it’s also a little unfair: his FIP is 8.18.

SP — Andrew Cashner

If you thought he was still on the Padres somehow, then you are not alone. He’s also not on the Royals or the Brewers (the other teams I would’ve guessed before Baltimore). He’s actually been an Oriole since last season, which is remarkable. He’s the ace of the staff with a 4.55 ERA / 4.72 FIP. He’s also 5-2!

Pitcher to watch

24-year old Miguel Castro has a 6.84 ERA in 26.1 IP, but the Orioles’ setup man has electric stuff. Not only does he feature a 98 mph sinker (or two-seam fastball), but he also throws one of the highest spin rate sliders in baseball (2,978 rpm).

The Orioles are, unsurprisingly, the worst team in the American League when it comes to ERA in the 7th-9th innings (6.29), but if the Giants aren’t able to take advantage the way the rest of baseball has, Castro will probably be a big reason why.

Hitter to watch

Keon Broxton is hitting .318/.348/.636 (.984 OPS) since joining the Orioles last week. That includes two home runs and a double, but also a 10:1 strikeouts to walk ratio. The speedy outfielder has just three hits in 38 career plate appearances against the Giants, but again, he’s facing Drew Pomeranz (career .785 OPS against lefties), Shaun Anderson (a rookie), and Jeff Samardzija.

Prediction

The last time the Giants played in Baltimore was 2004. They took two out of three in a June series. It’d be a miracle of the 2019 Giants accomplished such a feat, and it’d be an absolute stunner to see a sweep. On...

... the...

... other ...

hand,,,

The Orioles have a 7-21 home record this year.

It’s not a typo. Seriously. 7-21.

Now, 20 of those games were against the Yankees, Red Sox, Twins, Rays, and A’s, but the Angels, White Sox, and Tigers were in there, too, and the Orioles were still not great against them (4-5).

They won four of their first five games to open the season (series wins against the Yankees and Blue Jays!) and four out of their first five to open May, which means if the pattern holds, the Giants should win ...

Who cares? No, really? Does any of this matter? Two bad teams. If the Giants sweep, they’ll still be bad. It will just reinforce the theory that the Orioles are the worst team in baseball. If the Orioles sweep, then it will be another blow to the legacy of the championship core, but it still won’t really matter. A series win actually hurts the Giants’ chances for a high draft pick next season, and that’s really all that matters now.

So, let’s get wild with our predictions. The Orioles have homered in 22 of their 28 home games including six of their last seven. They’re averaging 1.4 home runs per home game. The Giants, meanwhile, have hit 32 home runs in 27 road games (1.2/game).

The Giants will be running out Drew Pomeranz (9 home runs allowed in 37.2 IP), Shaun Anderson (a rookie), and Jeff Samardzija (10 HR in 56.1 IP). The Orioles will be running out the Orioles’ pitching staff, which has allowed the most home runs in baseball (117; or, 2.01 per game).

I’m going to set the over/under for home runs hit in this series at 10.5... and take the over. I think we’re going to see 14 home runs hit in this series, but for this poll question, I’ll keep it simple:

Poll

Giants-Orioles: No. of HRs in 3-game series: 10.5

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Over (11 or more)
    (98 votes)
  • 56%
    Under (10 or fewer)
    (126 votes)
224 votes total Vote Now