Orioles can't tempt baseball fates again

Orioles can't tempt baseball fates again
November 1, 2012, 8:15 am
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As the maneuvering starts for the Orioles, picking up an option here, declining one there, they will have to consider how they compose a team for next year that can duplicate the success of 2012 while withstanding what is sure to be a normalization of the club’s extraordinary record in close games.

Can the Orioles really expect to go 29-9 again in one-run games? And 16-2 in extra innings? At 20 games over .500 in one-run games, the Orioles were eight games better than the next closest teams in the majors in 2012 (the Indians and Braves). And the No. 2 team in extra-inning wins was the Nationals, who won 13, but they also lost seven in extras.

Manager Buck Showalter just spoke about how defense is a priority for the Orioles. If they field well the entire season, instead of struggling early as they did this year, maybe they won’t rely on another run of tight victories.

If Mark Reynolds returns, maybe he won’t take so long to find his stroke at the plate. Nick Markakis could be healthy and give the Orioles a full season of production. The O’s could find someone to plug in at second who gives them a modicum of consistent offense. They could settle on a rotation that won’t require quite so much help from what was an excellent bullpen.

The thing is, the Orioles don’t want to tempt the baseball gods again next year. A more normal record in one-run and extra-inning games could leave them at about .500, and after this season, fans’ expectations are far beyond that.