MLB Expert Handicapping: Orioles One of All-Time Worst
There has to be a team with the worst record in baseball, and at 21-51 the Baltimore Orioles are working really hard to lock up the position they have held for much of the year already. It's ugly, but it is a long way from unexpected. This team was respectable in recent years, but they have totally bungled their roster management, and they are just a mess. They are on track for 115 losses, which just isn't a good thing. The 119 losses by the 2003 Tigers is the all-time record, and you shouldn't count the Orioles out from pursuing that record. There is obviously a whole lot going wrong - far more than we could cover here. But let's take a stab at a few of them:
Manny Machado: Baltimore's stud on the left side of the infield has been doing everything hoped of him this year despite playing on a truly awful team. He leads the team in every offensive category except hits, and he trails only Adam Jones by one in that category. He has been outstanding. Which, of course, means that he is not likely going to be an Oriole much longer. He is a free agent after this year, and there is no chance he will re-sign in Baltimore, so it would be an absolutely shock if he weren't dealt. Prospects will come the other way, so the team is only going to get worse when he is gone. Here comes those 119 losses.
Chris Davis: Before the 2016 season, Davis signed a seven year, $161 million dollar deal, which was the richest in team history. He was coming off a five-year stretch of impressive power. It's not unknown to see a player struggle after signing a big deal, but this is a whole new level of underperformance. It's almost impressive how bad he has been and how much money he has wasted. His numbers were down last year, but they have just fallen off a cliff this year. He's hitting just .150, with a truly, impossibly pathetic four home runs. His OPS is .454, which is lower than the slugging percentage he has posted in five different seasons. You can't overstate what an anchor he has been to this offense. And there really isn't much to do about it. His contract is untradeable, and the pressure will only intensify with Machado gone. It could get ugly. Or, more correctly, uglier.
Pitching: Success of any sort for this team this year relied upon them having free agency success with pitchers this year. They have done a lousy job of developing arms, so they needed to go outside. And it has gone very poorly. Alex Cobb, Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman have all been awful, and it has destroyed any margin of error they had - and they didn't have much. Dylan Bundy hasn't been horrible, but nothing else has worked with any consistency. You can't win without pitching, and this team doesn't have pitching. Or anything else.
Depth: At the major league level this team just has no depth, and it will only get worse as they get any value they can from Machado and others at the deadline. They have some talent in the pipeline - not tons, but some - but they are very hesitant to bring those guys up into the tire fire of the major league team. That makes sense, too - it's hard to learn much in an atmosphere that is as toxic as the Baltimore clubhouse likely is. Injuries have been a problem this year already and could continue to be as well. Guys surely aren't going to rush to get back on the field to be a part of this mess. We are going to see some crazy, awful lineups later in the season after the trades have been made.
Schedule: A team's own division is the most important when it comes to schedule. And the news is mixed on that front. Toronto and Tampa have been lousy and aren't likely to get any better in any hurry. But the Yankees and Red Sox have the two best records in baseball, and that's a problem. The funniest part of this schedule is the closing stretch. You can't argue that the oddsmakers don't have a sense of humor - the Orioles close with three in New York and Boston and then four at home in Houston. Nothing like having 10 games against the three best teams in the league standing between you and the merciful end to an awful season.
Betting performance: Not surprisingly, this has been an awful team to bet on. They have been, by a wide margin, the worst betting team in the league. They have burnt almost exactly as much money on the road as at home, so at least they are consistent. They have been second-worst on the runline in the league behind only Kansas City, too. The only bright spot for bettors here is that they have gone "under" the total 41 times and "over" just 30. There is some money to be made there.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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