Thirty years ago, the Baltimore Orioles started the season 0-21, assuring themselves a place among baseball’s biggest laughingstocks.
This season’s Orioles could turn out to be even worse.
Baltimore’s 10-1 loss to Minnesota on Sunday was the team’s 13th in its past 14 games and dropped the Orioles to 41 games under .500. At 24-65, this year’s Orioles are actually a few games behind where that dreadful 1988 team was through 89 games. That group was 29-60 — and its worst stretch was already over.
The current Baltimore club has the worst record in baseball, behind even teams that entered the season with low expectations, such as the Royals and White Sox. The Orioles aren’t that far removed from a postseason berth in 2016, and although they went 75-87 last year, there was still enough talent on the roster for Baltimore to believe it could compete in the AL East.
In fact, that’s one of the most surprising aspects of this collapse: It has happened despite the presence of stars like Manny Machado and Adam Jones. If that sounds familiar, it’s because that’s another parallel to the 1988 team. That season unraveled despite the efforts of an in-his-prime Cal Ripken and the consistently productive Eddie Murray.
The Orioles traded Murray to the Dodgers after that season. Now the talk is about what kind of haul Baltimore might be able to bring in by trading Machado. He’s done his part this year, hitting .313 with 21 home runs and 60 RBIs.
Despite Machado’s efforts, the Orioles are last in the major leagues in both batting average and on-base percentage. Their defensive efficiency ratio — a measure of a team’s ability to turn balls in play into outs — is by far the worst in baseball.
The 1988 Orioles finished 54-107, and this year’s team could end up in similar shape if it doesn’t improve in the second half.
Dreadful Orioles Bringing Back Memories of ’88