Well, the baseball season is over and the October exhibition games are well underway, so it’s time to look back at 2010 and see how our Orioles pre-mortem looks in retrospect.
Not too bad! But I made it easy on myself. I agreed with the general consensus that the Orioles had the talent to win 75-80 games, but remarked that because the uncertainty about young players is so great, they could win 85. Or they could lose 95. And they did! Then they lost one more to make it 96.
I wrote that the Orioles could win 85 games, 10 games over projection, “if Tillman comes up and excels, if Markakis returns to 2008 form, if Wieters continues to grow as a hitter, if a non-prospect like Hernandez reveals himself to be a good pitcher.” In fact: Tillman was awful. Markakis brought his walks back up a bit, but hit fewer home runs than last year (as he’s done every year since 2007, a bizarre trajectory for a player his age.) Wieters actually took a step back. Hernandez continued to struggle as a starter but was adequate in relief. Since every one of these things went the wrong way, it’s not so shocking the Orioles finished under projection.
Players on the Orioles who are very likely to produce more in 2010 than in 2009: Matt Wieters, Nolan Reimold, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Felix Pie, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Koji Uehara, Brad Bergesen.
Not a great prediction. Matusz, for sure. Wieters produced more just by playing more. Reimold and Tillman were awful and spent most of the year in the minors. Bergesen was slightly less terrible and spent the year getting beat up in the majors. Pie spent most of the season hurt. Jones and Markakis delivered about the same; Uehara went from being an adequate starter to an effective reliever, which I think is also a wash.
But the story of the 2010 Orioles is obviously the story of the great August turnaround when Buck Showalter took over as manager. When Showalter took over we were 32-73 and appeared en route to the franchise’s worst season since 1939. After that, we played .600 ball the rest of the way. I have never been a big believer that managers matter. (Though I see I did give Trembley part of the blame at the end of 2009.) But my belief in these matters is now in question.
So: Orioles 2011? As always, I feel good about the team! People who follow the Orioles aren’t gloom bunnies like Cubs fans or Red Sox fans. Whatever dreck1 we’re putting on the field, we see the upside.
1: Yiddish for “Garrett Atkins.”