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This season’s Orioles might be the worst team in franchise history

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The Orioles overachieved in 2020...and still were 10 games under .500.  In a full season, things are likely to get ugly.

Houston Astros v Baltimore Orioles Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

When a site decides to their MLB team previews in reverse order of projected wins, it’s not a good thing to be in that first batch. So far this week, we’ve looked at the pathetic Rockies and the woeful ‘barely-an-MLB-roster’ Pirates. Keeping with the theme of the bottom-of-the-barrel, today we look at the Baltimore Orioles.

Last year the Orioles played much better than expected, especially in the first month of the season. They managed to finish ahead of the injury-riddled and star-barren Red Sox by one game, finishing with a 25-35 record.

The O’s are projected for 66 wins, six wins fewer than the next-worst teams in the AL (the Tigers and Rangers). Their pitching staff is likely to be one of the worst in all of baseball, with a bunch of has-beens and never-was(es), combined with a lineup made up of players with limited upside, many of whom we know exactly who they are at this point in their career.

Baltimore’s starting rotation consists of John Means, Keegan Akin, Dean Kremer...and it gets worse from there. The back of the rotation is really anyone’s guess. The O’s did go out and ink low-risk and low-ceiling former All Stars Felix Hernandez and Matt Harvey...but these are two pitchers who have not been solid starters since 2015. Since 2016, Felix and Harvey have a COMBINED 3.5 fWAR. The other three aforementioned starts have barely 4 total career wins above replacement. Yes, it’s that bad.

Not only are the slotted-in starters questionable on performance, the number of tallied innings is equally opaque. We’re staring at a regular 162-game season...where the Orioles get their 1400+ innings is beyond me.

With a relief core consisting of Hunter Harvey, Tanner Scott, Dilon Tate, Paul Fry (among a pile of other forgetting and not good players), it’s going to be one ugly summer at homer-happy Camden Yards.

Going around-the-horn, the Orioles have Chance Sisco behind the dish. This will be Sisco’s third full year in the Big Leagues and he is a known commodity. Of course, what’s known is that he’s not very good.

At first base, Ryan Mountcastle is projected to split time with Trey Mancini who will likely DH some of the time, and may play the outfield sparingly as well. And how can we forget Chris Davis, who is due $23 million in 2021. In his last full season, Davis got over $400k per hit...that’s not a typo.

Up-the-middle, Baltimore has a platoon of lousy players at second (with Jahmai Jones and Yolmer Sanchez) and Freddy Galvis, who somehow is one of the best players on the team, at shortstop. Third base will be manned by another player who likely belongs in the minor leagues, or at-best, as a backup infielder, Rio Ruiz.

The outfield is equally meager talent-wise, with a four man outfielder rotation of D.J. Stewart, Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins II, and Anthony Santander.

This team is bad. Really bad. While it seems silly to pine for the days of flash-in-the-pan Chris Tillman, unrefined Kevin Gausman, and perpetually injured Dylan Bundy, the roster of five years ago was the 1927 Yankees compared to this year’s band of low-ceiling quad-A players.

For anyone who thinks I’m exaggerating how bad this team is, FanGraphs has the Orioles at a 0 percent chance to make the playoffs. Happy spring Baltimore!


Steven Martano is an Editor and Featured Writer at Beyond the Box Score, and formerly a Contributing Prospect Writer for the Colorado Rockies at Purple Row, and The Hardball Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano