Would you have believed if I told you?

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Manny Machado
Manny Machado is one of the reasons the Orioles are off to their hot start. Credit: Mallory Pente

If I would have told you before the season started that on May 9th the following things would be true about the 2017, where would you think their record would be?

  • Their 4.45 runs/per game would be below MLB average
  • Chris Tillman would only have one 2017 major league start
  • Kevin Gausman would have a 6.63 ERA
  • Zach Britton would have put up a 1.78 WHIP in nine games before going on DL twice and missing almost 3 weeks of the season
  • Ubaldo Jimenez would have a 6.58 ERA
  • Darren O’Day would have a 5.05 ERA
  • Mark Trumbo would be slashing .234/.286/.339/.624 with just three homers
  • Hyun Soo Kim would be slashing .227/.306/.318/.624
  • Manny Machado would be batting .229
  • J.J. Hardy would be slashing .196/.232/.252/.484 and a WAR of -0.5
  • Chris Davis would be slashing .238/.344/.400/.744 with just four home runs

I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be the 2nd best record in all of baseball at 21-10. It’s actually pretty remarkable that a team that’s had so much go wrong, be in such a good position going into mid-May.

And it’s not like the Orioles have had a cupcake schedule, with 22 of their first 31 games against the Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, Reds, and Nationals who combined have a .587 (91-64) winning percentage this season.

So how are the Orioles doing it? Well, really it’s been a multitude of ways but one of the keys has been winning close games. The Orioles are 7-1 in one-run ballgames and 4-1 in extra innings.

But somebody has to be stepping up and playing over his head, they can’t keep this up right? Honestly though, looking at the roster only Jonathan Schoop (.296/.336/.510/.826), Wade Miley (2.27 ERA in 6 starts) and Trey Mancini (.313/.338/.687/1.025 with 7 HR) are playing much better than expected and Schoop and Mancini are still young players that their norms are not really formly established, especially in Mancini’s case.

Who have been the heroes so far besides those three. Well, although I pointed out Machado’s low batting average, he is OPSing .804 and leading the team in home runs (8), RBIs (21) and walks (18) and his defense has been spectacular (0.5 dWAR already). Dylan Bundy of course has been nothing short of the staff ace going 5-1 with a 2.17 ERA while going at least six innings in every start. And you can’t look past the job Brad Brach has done while taking over at closer for the injured Britton, going 8 for 9 in save chances.

You also have to give credit to the unsung depth players that Duquette picked up this offseason who have done their jobs quite well. Alec Asher has two quality starts and a 3.1 inning shutout long relief performance for his 2.55 ERA. Gabriel Ynoa came through with six shutout innings after Miley had to leave the game in 1st after getting hit by two balls and Logan Verrett tossed two shutout innings against the Yankees to pick up a win in relief. Add in Richard Bleier‘s solid four innings of relief against the Red Sox after Gausman was ridiculously thrown out at the start of the 2nd inning to keep the team in the game and those four have combined for a 1.82 ERA over 29.2 IP.

With Tillman back, and the fact that Trumbo and Davis are due to heat up, it’s not like the Orioles should be waiting for the other shoe to drop. This team seems to have something special going on, and although I seem to be the kiss of death when I right positive articles like this, it sure does seem like it’s going to be a fun summer in birdland.

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Tony Pente
Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.