From the moment the Orioles were ousted from the playoffs, Baltimore Oriole fans have been debating what the club needs to do to get to the next level and win a World Series. I love this discussion. (It’s a lot better than those discussions we used to have about many more years the Orioles would be rebuilding.) Yet, with all this great Orioles discussion, there have also been some people talking (and writing) recklessly. Below I’ve debunked five myths that I have heard people talk and write about this offseason.
1. The Orioles window to win is closing
Ever since 2012, I’ve heard this argument that the Orioles have a short window to win. Last offseason, many people supported the Ubaldo Jimenez signing because the Orioles had to go “all in to win now”. The reasoning for the Orioles closing window to win go something like this: Wieters and Davis could be traded or lost to free agency, some core players, like Markakis, Hardy and Jones peak performance years are coming to an end, yada yada, yada. You all have heard the arguments; maybe some of you are even foolish enough to buy into the argument. However, the Orioles window to win is not closing anytime soon. Last year, the Orioles proved that this team could still be successful while losing key pieces. Even if the Orioles lose both Wieters and Davis, the notion that these two players are holding this team together is ridiculous. It is true that Hardy and Markakis (assuming he gets resigned) are past their primes, but let’s not forget about the nice core of young players this team has in Jonathan Schoop, Manny Machado, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman. It is realistic to assume that the growth of these young players will outweigh the decline of a couple aging players. Moreover, Peter Angelos has shown the willingness to open the wallet combined this with competent leadership of Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette all add up to a the Orioles window to win being propped open and not closing anytime soon.
2. The Orioles need an ace if they want to win the World Series
It amazes me that even after the “aceless” Orioles defeated the Detroit Tigers and their rotation full of “aces” in the American League Championship Series that people still insist you need an ace to win. Sure, having an ace is not a bad thing, but Orioles and Royals showed that you can be successful with a decent rotation that can get you to a dominate bullpen. You still need pitching to win, but it doesn’t matter if you have one pitcher who throws a nine inning shutout or four pitchers who combine for a shut out, the result is the same.
3. David Lough is terrible
David Lough, post all-start break had a triple-slash line of .351/.387/.544. Go ahead and read the slash line, again, and no, it is not a typo. This is the most surprising of the myths. It’s surprising because people tend to pay the most attention to the most immediate trends. And in the most immediate trend, the second half of the season, David Lough was not terrible, but terrific. Yet, he has been cemented in the minds of many Orioles fans as being terrible and apparently there’s nothing he can do to shake that label. David Lough will be on the Orioles roster next year, and he may even be their opening day left fielder. And though many Oriole fans will grumble if he’s the opening day starter, the fact is, the Orioles could do a lot worse than David Lough in left field.
4. The Orioles need to improve their on-base percentage
It is tempting to just look at the MLB Team Stats page and choose an area the Orioles rank near the bottom of the league in and say if the Orioles can just improve in that area than that will take them to the next level. And it is this over-simplification that has many people shouting for the Orioles to improve their on-base percentage. Now, of course I’m not opposed to the Orioles improving their on-base percentage, but I do not think it should dominate the Orioles decision-making. There are many ways to win. At the end of the day, the object is to score more runs than your opponent. It doesn’t matter if you do this by walking a lot or by hitting a lot of runs. It’s not about the means; it’s about the results. Last year, the Orioles ranked 17th in OBP which doesn’t sound very good, but when you look at the two teams than sandwich the Orioles in the rankings, you start feeling a whole lot better about it. The Kanas City Royals and San Francisco Giants were ranked 16th and 18th in OBP putting the O’s right in the middle of the two World Series teams. When giving some context, that 17th ranked OBP doesn’t look quite so bad.
5. The Orioles will be unable to compete if they don’t resign Nelson Cruz or Andrew Miller
One would imagine that seeing the Orioles win the American League East while losing Manny Machado and Matt Wieters to injuries and seeing Chris Davis and Ubaldo Jimenez have dreadful years, would show Oriole fans that their success is not tied to any one, two, or even a handful of players. Yet, even having witnessed this, there are still many Oriole fans that think the Orioles will not be able to compete if they don’t resign Nelson Cruz and Andrew Miller, or at least one of the two. I will not argue that the Orioles are a better without Cruz or Miller; however, the notion that the Orioles won’t be competitive without these players is laughable. The Orioles are more important than any one or two players. The Orioles were competitive last year even before acquiring Miller and the Orioles have a list of players like Steve Pearce, Christian Walter, Chris Davis, and some free agents yet to be named who could adequately replace Nelson Cruz. Again, the Orioles would be better next year with Cruz and Miller, but without them life and a competitive baseball team will go on.