Depending on your point of view, it’s either brave or stupid to predict the breaking of baseball records. The nature of the game means that any record worth talking about either takes a huge amount of time to set (Bonds’ 762, Ryan’s 5,714) or are results of a flash of baseball’s variance (DiMaggio’s 56, Johnny Vander Meer’s back to back no-no’s). Despite the high probability that hindsight will eventually make this column and its author look silly, here goes nothing: The Baltimore Orioles will break the Pittsburgh Pirates consecutive losing season record.

The more eagle eyed among you will have noticed that this prediction isn’t exactly straightforward. The Pirates are still in the middle of setting the record for futility, working as they are on a 19th consecutive losing season as I type, but I’m willing to bet that wherever that record eventually ends up the Orioles will go at least one better.

One of the biggest reasons for both of these teams struggles appears to be an inability to turn prospects into players. While the Pirates have at least begun to show improvements in developing their highly touted talent into productive big leaguers, the O’s still have a lot to prove in this respect. Simply put, too many Orioles players seems to go backwards once they reach The Show for me to put much faith in them turning things around, regardless of the raw ability they may have to work with.

Brian Matusz was a top prospect who moved quickly through the system and was, as recently as last year, an above average, young left handed starter. He may well hurt now and you almost hope he is, such is the collapse he’s experienced this year while putting up a 9.84 ERA and giving up 15 home runs in 43 innings.

Nick Markakis was also once a top prospect but I now find him one of the most frustrating players to watch in the major leagues. During his first two years he looked like he possessed the sort of skill set that’s made JD Drew such a valuable commodity over the years: above average power, patience and defense in right field. Now it seems like his main skill is the un-Drew like attribute of health and every time I see him hit he seems to be choking up on the bat as he wants to be Placido Polanco.

Adam Jones was, again, once a top prospect (seeing the pattern here?) who has never reached the All-Star heights he was tipped for. He hits for a very consistent average (between .270 and .284 all 4 years he’s been an Oriole) and decent power but his plate discipline and baserunning abilities (career high this year of 11 steals) are a bit lacking while his defensive seems to constantly divide opinion.

Zach Britton flew out of the blocks this year with a 2.35 ERA over his first 65 innings spanning 10 starts. That this was driven by a .242 BABIP meant he was always a candidate for regression and his subsequent 14 starts has resulted in a 6.22 ERA thanks in no small part to a .376 BABIP. On the plus side he does counter his lack of strikeouts with a good amount of groundballs and, aside from back to back starts in July against the Red Sox and Yankees where his combined numbers were 1 IP, 13 hits, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts, 17 (!) runs allowed (13 earned), he’s given the O’s 5 innings every time he’s taken the hill.

I could probably go on but I think the players above demonstrate a worry enough trend for Orioles fans. There’s talk that GM Andy McPhail may move on this off-season, leaving his successor with the unenviable task of creating a platform upon which the next generation of prospects such as Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado can realize their potential. Add in that they’ll have to do this in the hyper-competitive AL East means the clean up challenge in Baltimore is one that even Bunk and McNulty would shy away from.

One Response to “The Orioles Are Going To Break Records”

  1. I like to predict breaking of baseball records but in this case I’m sure…

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