The State of the State: Maryland

July 18, 2023

A look at what’s happening on the Maryland sports scene: After an unexpectedly fantastic start, how real are the Orioles?

© Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

While there’s still a lot of baseball left in the 2023 season, it’s officially okay to say that there’s nothing fluky about the Baltimore Orioles. Not only are the O’s sitting in second place in the AL East, one of the toughest divisions in all of sports, but they’re only a game back of the Rays for the lead. Furthermore, Baltimore won eight straight games coming out of the weekend.

For the first time in a long time, there’s a real sense in Baltimore that the local nine can not only compete for a division title but go even further than that. As one of baseball’s best farm systems churns out legit major league talent, the Orioles massive turnaround might even be ahead of schedule. But can they really win the East? Let’s assess. 

Why to like Baltimore to win the AL East (+480)…

  • If you were concerned that the All-Star break could derail the Orioles momentum, it looks as if the break did nothing but good for Baltimore, as it went ahead and swept the 53-win Marlins. Still with “plus” odds, there’s no better time to bet on Baltimore.
  • The Orioles have an excellent backend of the bullpen, which is critical as summer turns to fall. At 30 saves, the only team better in the American League is Toronto with 33.
  • The Rays began the season historically hot, so there’s no surprise there was some form of a cool-down. But at last glance, Tampa Bay has lost eight of its last 11, and two of their wins came against the Royals. How cool are the Rays? Their next two series could determine the fate of the Rays, as they’ll go to Texas for three host the Orioles for four.

Why not to like Baltimore to win the AL East (+480)…

  • There may be no better reason to like the O’s than anyone else in the division. In fact, no team in the AL East has a losing record. It would take a hot streak for the Yankees or Red Sox to make it close at the top, but by September the Rays, Orioles and Blue Jays should all be duking it out for division supremacy.
  • In terms of team batting average, the Orioles are currently fourth in the AL East, topping only the depleted Yankees in that statistical category. It hasn’t been a difference maker thus far, but could it?
  • At 3.70, the Rays have the best team ERA in the American League. The Blue Jays are 5th at 3.81. The Orioles, meanwhile, come in at 9th with a team ERA of 4.14. Can the O’s pitching staff hold it together? The answer to that question could determine the AL East. 

Richard DeMala’s pick: Baltimore to win the AL East (+480)