For the 2016 Baltimore Orioles, this season has been nothing less than impressive so far when you consider where they were predicted to finish by every major sports news outlet. They didn’t have a shot to finish higher than 4th place, and there was absolutely no chance they would have a winning record. Buck Showalter said before the season even began, “We answered these same questions last year and in ’14 and the year before, and that’s OK.” Buck then went on to say, “I understand what it looks like on paper, but also I’ve got a pretty good cheat sheet every day that I’m in the locker room with these guys. I’ve been around them, and I know what they’re about. So I think some people miss that about them.” It was quite obvious that yet again, he did not care about the pre-season predictions.
As for the Orioles actual performance, well, at home it has been an absolutely magical year so far. Through 53 home games, the Orioles have mounted a record of 37-16, which is not only the best in the American League, but it is the best overall in baseball. Some of the magical moments include Matt Wieters’ Opening-Day walk-off single after rain delayed the game for a total of 2 hours and 51 minutes. How about the passed ball that allowed Caleb Joseph to score the winning run from third against the Blue Jays? Oh, and how about the 1-0 extra inning victory in May against the Yankees? Remember when the Indians came to Baltimore a few weeks ago, and the Orioles walked off against them on back-to-back nights? Yep, there sure have been some magical moments at Oriole Park at Camden Yards so far this year.
But there’s another side to this 2016 Orioles squad, a side that quite possibly could be the reason some say the Orioles are overachieving. I’m talking about the teams performance away from OPACY.
This team has struggled by far on the road, and with today’s 9-1 loss to Toronto, they have now fallen out of first place for the first time since July 21, and are not showing any signs of improving. With lobsided losses in Seattle, by six, in Cleveland by seven, and Los Angeles by eight, the Orioles have managed a 21-29 record on the road, which is fourth worst in the American League. No current division leader has a road record of under .500, which, among other thing, is a MUST CHANGE if the Orioles want to regain first place, and make a run towards October and the postseason.
The Orioles have 31 games remaining on the road, including a three team road trip spanning from Chicago, to Oakland, to San Francisco which starts on August 5. On top of that, the O’s have 16 remaining road games against teams within the division. The only team that has a worse record than Baltimore on the road, in the AL East, is the Tampa Bay Rays, and they are the second worst team in the AL.
Breaking down the Orioles stats on the road, they’re batting average is only .17 points less than it is at home, but have hit 12 less HR’s. For a team that was mashing an average of 2 HR’s a game in June, that’s a big stat. It’s worth noting their on-base percentage is down on the road as well, at .310, compared to .339 at home. On the pitching side of things, the pitching staff is terrible on the road, with a 4.81 ERA, compared to a respectable 3.73 ERA at OPACY.
I can’t tell you anymore than you already know on why it’s difficult to win on the road. Obviously you have the home crowd heckling you, throwing banana’s in some instances, and wishing the worst upon you. You also don’t get the opportunity to bat in the bottom half of the 9th inning. One thing is for certain, the O’s are going to need to find ways to win these road games, or else they won’t find themselves at the top of the division to finish this season, and they may miss out on the playoffs for the second season in a row.