2020 was perhaps the strangest season in Baltimore Orioles’ history. Well, strike that – in MLB history. After a lengthy delay due to COVID-19, the league opened it’s season in late July. The Birds opened against Boston at Fenway Park – and were promptly blown out by Boston.
But we also saw shades of what the 2020 Orioles were truly all about that weekend at Fenway. The O’s took the other two games of the series. This was a team that bounced back quickly from bad losses, and who wasn’t about to hang their heads for long.
This team had it’s ups and downs. They were swept by Miami, but swept Washington and Philadelphia. And in the process, they found that they had some great pieces going forward.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the year was Anthony Santander, who ended up being the Most Valuable Oriole. This despite playing in only 37 games due to a late season injury. Santander hit only .261 on the year, however he was clutch. He always came through when the O’s needed a late hit or run-scoring play. That’s something we’ve seen in Baltimore previously in other players. However it’s a tough trait to find.
The Birds also found some pieces to take forward in the pitching department, such as Thomas Eshelman, Dean Kremer, and Keegan Akin. Where any of these players winds up next year in terms of on the roster, in the minors, and/or in the bullpen depends largely on their spring outings. But that’s also true of a lot of guys.
Again, the O’s had their ups and downs this year. They were streaky. Yet by virtue of the 60-game season, they stayed in mathematical playoff contention until the final week. And that’s due in large part to their never-say-die attitude. We saw it time and time again over the course of the sixty games. And given that the nucleus of the team is expected to at least be similar in 2021, I would expect to see that same trait next year.
For the record, my season prediction was that the O’s wouldn’t finish in the basement of the AL East. I was correct in that. They won 25 games, and Boston won 24. So I was correct by exactly one game. However more importantly, they did improve year-over-year. In 2019 the O’s had a win percentage of .317 (over 162 games). This year it raised to .417 (over sixty games).
Granted the number of games is different, but that translates to 67.5 wins in a 162 game season. This as opposed to last year’s 54 wins. So if you look at it from that perspective they’re trending in the right direction. Whether that progress goes into next season remains to be seen. But in certain senses, 2020 was a success for the O’s.