The CAIRO projection system has the Orioles winning an average of 77 games this year; that’s 11 games better than their 2010 record (biggest projected jump in the majors) and 7 over the 2011 projection for the team as constituted prior the winter meetings, also baseball’s best figure. I don’t think the Orioles are 11 games better than last year’s squad, but I think the 2010 team was better than their record. So 77 wins sounds about right.
I don’t think this is even the biggest lineup upgrade the Orioles have seen lately — between 2003 and 2004 we replaced Brook Fordyce with Javy Lopez and Deivi Cruz with Miguel Tejada. What I never realized is that the terrible Fordyce wasn’t even the second-worst hitter on that team; that would be Tony Batista, who despite hitting 26 home runs managed to rack up an OBP of .270. According to Play Index, Batista’s 2003 was the worst offensive season of all time by a guy with at least 25 home runs! Anyway, he was replaced in 2004 by Melvin Mora’s career year. And still the Orioles only improved by seven games!
Making a bad team good is hard. Even making a bad team substantially less bad is hard.