How Big of a Leap Are the 2022 Orioles Really Making?

A pessimist could look at the 2022 Orioles and see just another losing season.

This “glass-half-empty” perspective would focus on the team’s low payroll…the lack of true impact players…and the inevitable selling that is still ahead at this year’s trade deadline.

But the optimist sees something else.

A “glass-half-full” person can see the beginnings of a turnaround with the Orioles on-field product.

Prospects are beginning to arrive in Birdland…and the pitching staff – in particular the bullpen – has shown a dramatic improvement.

In fact, there’s a pretty stark improvement that’s taking place with respect to the team’s won-loss record this season compared to last year.

The 2022 Orioles’ current record of 30-38 as of June 20 – a .441 winning percentage – would project to a final record of 72-90 over the full 162 game season.

That’s a pretty significant jump over last season’s 52-110 record. And it could potentially mean an end of the club’s run of three straight full seasons with 100 or more losses.

(That string of 100-loss seasons feels especially awful when you consider that the Orioles franchise had previously had just two 100-loss seasons – 1954 and 1988 – since arriving from St. Louis 68 years ago.)

How significant would a 72-90 record be if the Orioles do continue on their current pace?

A final record of 72-90 would be an increase of 20 wins year-over-year and it would mark the fourth-largest year-over-year improvement in the team’s history.

And it would be just the fourth year-over-year increase of 19 or more wins since the team moved to Baltimore in 1954.

Year           YOY increase        Previous record    New record

1989                   +33                     1988: 54-107         1989: 87-75

2012                    +24                     2011: 69-93          2012: 93-69

1992                    +22                     1991: 67-95          1992: 89-73

2022                   +20                     2021: 52-110         2022: 72-90

1969                    +18                     1968: 91-71          1969: 109-53

*projected

These figures exclude seasons that were shortened by work stoppages or by COVID, of course. (The 1996 and 1973 seasons checked in a year-over-year increases of 17 wins, but each of those previous seasons were slightly shortened by players’ strikes.)

The 2022 Orioles’ potential 20-game year-over-year improvement would be their largest improvement since the 2012 Orioles posted 24 more wins than the 2011 team and returned to the postseason via a wild card berth.

When looking at this list of dramatic year-over-year improvements, one thing does stand out about the 2022 season: It would be the first on this list where the team still posts a losing record.

That says quite a bit about just how far the team had fallen over the past several seasons – which, again, was mostly by design.

But a 20-game improvement in 2022 would be a large first step toward returning to respectability and, ultimately, contention for the team.

Jumping from 52 wins to 92 wins in just one season — a 40-game swing – is just not something that fans can count on happening.

But the leap up to the top of the American League East standings might just become a bit less daunting if the Orioles can continue their recent success and post that increase of 20 wins – or more – year-over-year.

(Of course, the pessimist would say that the current pace is unsustainable given the expected trade deadline moves that are still ahead, but the O’s have won six of their last nine…Adley Rutschman is starting to get hot…and the bullpen has been lights out. Let’s not listen to Mr. Glass-Half-Empty right now.)

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