Imagine if you will, you and your buddies taking in a 2012 spring training game in Florida. As is often the case, all of you are enjoying your favorite adult beverage while you watch the Baltimore Orioles take on the mighty New York Yankees.
One of your buddies blurts out that the Baltimore Orioles will have the best record in major league baseball in May. And he is taking bets. In your mind you think, I love it when he has one too many Michelob’s. If you took that bet you just lost your money. The Baltimore Orioles have the best record in major league baseball at 19-9 and its May 7. And your asking yourself, how is that possible?
The Orioles have begun the year with solid pitching and timely hitting. And that is a recipe for success. Funny how baseball fans are, most are wondering if they can last. Remember, the Orioles have five or six guys who can post 20 home run seasons. That will be a big factor when competing in the powerhouse American League East .
Off-season acquisition, Jason Hammel, seems to have found his stride in Baltimore. In 38 innings he sports an ultra-low ERA of 1.00 and a WHIP under 1.00. his four wins lead the team and he has pitched a quality start for the Orioles in five of his six starts. It’s quite possible that Hamill is just excited to get the heck out of Coors Field in Colorado. Jim Johnson is finishing up the back end of ballgames, and leads the team with eight saves.
Perhaps the biggest difference between this Baltimore Orioles team in the teams of the past is manager Buck Showalter. Some managers just have an ability to reach players and pull out potential that others seemingly never can. Joe Maddon of the Rays is one of those. Apparently the Orioles have responded to Showalter.
He is a no-nonsense kind of guy, known for his attention to details on game day. Whether or not the Orioles have long-term success will depend on whether or not Showalter can maintain the confidence of his players and management. He managed the 1,000th victory of his major-league career in a 7–1 triumph at Yankee Stadium on May 1, 2012.
Winning 1000 games as a manager in major league baseball is no small feat. This is Showalter’s fourth managerial job and one could argue the one in which he’s had the best results. The Orioles are in first place in the American League East. They are probably not a lot of baseball watchers who expect them to stay there. But if you remember your buddies back in the early spring, I wouldn’t take a bet on it.