The Orioles 2014 season is in the books. They gave us a lot to be happy about this season. 96 wins and winning their first A.L. East crown since ’97 by 12 games. As Adam Jones said, it was fucking awesome. Unfortunately the season ended when they were swept by Kansas City in the ALCS. Still had a great year, and they were a blast to watch.
All regular season and most of the playoffs, the Orioles bullpen was fantastic, one of the best in the league. Tommy Hunter lost the closer role in mid-May to Zach Britton, and Britton never looked back. Britton ended with 37 saves and a 1.65 ERA, which I’d say is pretty decent. He struggled in the playoffs, but overall was great and should be closing games for seasons to come.
Hunter ended up finding a groove and had a pretty good year as well. Darren O’Day solidified himself as an absolute stud, but like Britton, seemed to scuffle in the last few weeks. Andrew Miller, need I say more? Just look at his numbers, 2-0, 1 save, 34 Ks, 8 hits, 4 BB, and 3 runs in 23 appearances for the Birds. Brad Brach came out of no where to have a good year as well.
When healthy, they have of the best lineups in baseball. The O’s had the most homers in the league as a team, led by Nelson Cruz and his 40 bombs. Adam Jones put up his typical Adam Jones .281/29/96 numbers. Nick Markakis rebounded nicely after his down year last year, and he set the tone from the leadoff spot. J.J. Hardy’s homers went down, but his average went up. I’d still consider it a great offensive year for him. Steve Pearce even became a household name with clutch hits in key situations.
Seemed like everyone on the team had their moment this year. From Nelly opening day, to Davis pinch hit walk off, to Schoop owning Tanaka, this team was an offensive powerhouse….until the ALCS.
Gotta give props to Buck and Dan Duquette. Most of the deals they made paid off. Cruz? Best $8 mill the O’s ever spent. Miller? Tremendous trade. De Aza played above expectation and Delmon Young was great off the bench. Hell David Lough, Nick Hundley, Kelly Johnson, and Jimmy Parades (all new acquisitions) all had walk off hits this year. Seemed like any call they made was the right one.
For as good as Cruz’s deal was, Ubaldo’s was that bad. Actually, I take that bad. It was much worse. The largest contract for a pitcher in team history for one of the worst seasons a pitcher can have. The O’s are still on the hook for three more years too. He started to turn it around the last few weeks, but the damage had been done. We kept holding out hope that he would be the second half pitcher he was lat season, but that never came, and we were left with a sad Ubaldo sitting in the bullpen.
Whether it was Wieters’ elbow, Manny’s knee, Hardy’s back, or Davis’ Adderall binge, injuries and suspension all had huge implications on the season. Wieters was the hottest hitting catcher and displaying his normal gold glove defense behind the dish before going down and needing Tommy John just 26 games into the season. Manny came back from one knee injury only to go down to an injury in his other knee. He was hitting great and fielding even better before having to miss the remainder of the year. Hardy had a back issue at the beginning of the season that seemed to linger and popped up in August too, hence why his power numbers saw a decrease.
And of course, Chris Davis who had a “lack of judgment” and was suspended 25 games for Adderall. Not exactly what you want as your team was gearing up for a playoff run. Nothing you can do about these injuries or suspensions, the team won with them, and they won without them. But it’s hard to lose that many key pieces, and it ultimately cost them.
Plenty of memorable moments this year for the Os. Nelly walking it off on Opening Day, Clinchmas, Davis bowling ball celebration, O’s 60th anniversary celebration, any game where they ran a train on the Yankees or Red Sox. Lackey throwing pissy fits against Cruz, Manny trying to fight all the A’s and tossing his bat. Bud Norris punking Torri Hunter, sweeping Detroit and their Cy Young winning pitchers, taking over Nats park, Delmon’s earth shattering double. And of course the pies. Give me all the pies.
What does next year hold for the O’s? Which free agents come back, who do they bring in? Does Nick stay? Will Miller re-sign? Any chance they keep Cruz? Will Manny’s knees hold up? Is Wieters’ elbow going to be okay? Will Ubaldo ever resemble an actual pitcher? Will Gausman lose a game next year (no.)? Will Dylan Bundy contribute next year? Should be an exciting and interesting offseason.
This season was extremely fun to watch because no one picked them to win, but they did. And there’s no reason they shouldn’t be right back next year. They have the pieces. The young guys will be back and healthy. Back-to-back A.L. East champs, you heard it here first! Thanks for coming on the ride with me, it was great to watch them prove everyone wrong who said they wouldn’t make the playoffs, win the East, or win a playoff series. Thanks for a hell of a year Orioles. 170 days till Opening Day!