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Whither the O's in 2005?

It's been a while since I looked at what others have been saying about the Orioles, so here are a few quick outside hits mixed in with my comments.

Virtually everyone is picking the Orioles to finish third in the American League East this year. That includes such widely read mainstream sources as The New York Times (write-up by Murray Chass) and The Washington Post. A few prognosticators have the O's pegged lower, and hardly anyone is willing to nudge them above Boston or New York.

While I'm not going to make any bold predictions, I will submit that the Orioles' chances of making the playoffs this year are better than they have been since the late '90s. Those chances are not high, mind you, just better. It would take a lot of good breaks and a regression by the Sox or Yanks for the Birds to make the leap to contention this year. Given the ascendancy of New York and Boston and the greater ability of those northeastern rivals to patch holes using their financial resources, it's hard to imagine the O's making the postseason in '05. But it's no stretch to say that the Orioles will be a competitive team in the context of the league, if not within their division.

According to ESPN.com, the Vegas preseason over-under on Baltimore's 2005 win total was 80.5. That might be a bit on the low side. The Orioles actually outscored their opponents by twelve runs last year, when they finished 78-84. Had their record followed the trend of their runs scored and allowed, they would have gone 82-80, according to Pythagenport (an optimization of Bill James's Pythagorean method by Clay Davenport and Keith Woolner). And according to Davenport's calculations, Baltimore's actual runs scored and allowed totals in 2004 masked further inefficiencies in the team's hitting and pitching. Had the Orioles' discrete offensive and defensive events translated into runs and wins at a typical rate, they would have gone 85-77 (their Pythagenport record using Davenport's Equivalent Runs). None of those numbers necessarily portends how the O's will fare in 2005, but since most of last year's roster is returning for this season, the true quality of last year's team should at least be considered.

Diamond Mind Baseball, which developed and maintains a sabermetrically cutting-edge baseball simulation game, predicts the O's will go 80-82, 17 games behind first-place New York and 16 games back of Boston in the race for the wild card. More encouragingly, the Orioles took the wild card in 6.5% of DM's simulated seasons. Last year, by contrast, DM projected Baltimore at 75-87 with no postseason appearances in any of its simulations.

Over at the Baseball Prospectus, twelve authors were asked to predict the 2005 MLB standings. They collectively projected Baltimore to settle into third place (to be precise, the average rank for Baltimore was 3.33). Eight predicted the O's would finish third, three predicted fourth, and one stuck them with fifth (send your complaints to James Click).

Meanwhile, at The Hardball Times, Joe Dimino asks—and takes a stab at answering—five questions about the Orioles:

  1. What can they expect from Sammy Sosa?
  2. Was Sosa worth the price?
  3. Speaking of which, what's the verdict on Beatagan (Flaneattie?) so far?
  4. Will this team ever acquire or develop any pitching?
  5. Is there help on the way?

Dimino's responses unfold in an engaging article that is well worth reading.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 4, 2005 8:52 PM.

The previous post in this blog was For openers.

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