After a long and severe drought in which Baltimore posted a losing record every season from 1998-2011 (!), the O’s won more regular-season games than any other AL team the past five years. We needed that.
They’re at it again. At 12-5, they have the AL’s best record. That’s a 114-win pace.
This after pretty much every expert prediction and forecasting model had them winning something like 80 games. Even after accounting for the fast start, Fangraphs only has them winning 85, and Baseball Prospectus has Baltimore going 67-78 the rest of the way.
That’s just what happens when your rotation is Dylan Bundy and pray for rain. It happened last year, when SI picked Baltimore to win 69 games. (They won 89 and made the playoffs for the third time in five years.)
Hell, it happens every year.
And the thing is, they’re not even playing that well. For all their slugging, they only score 4.00 runs per game, down from 4.59 last year. That drop is offset by their overall pitching improvement, though. Thanks to their remarkable bullpen, Baltimore’s team ERA is down to 3.53 from 4.22.
That ERA is bound to come back to Earth, but Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo aren’t going to slump for six months, either. Plus, Chris Tillman (16-6 last year with a 3.77 ERA) returns in a couple weeks.
Add it up and we’re looking at another contender in Birdland. When it rains, it pours.