As his teammates celebrated the American League East Championship last week, outfielder Austin Hays had a moment to reflect after the Baltimore Orioles moved up to first place on their circuit from 110 games lost.
It’s so rewarding, and that’s the way it should be. When you go through the bad days, these seasons with hundreds of losses, it’s as if you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. But we reached the light and this point of darkness was left behind.
Now the Orioles have reached the postseason in an unusual position. It is not easy for a team that has achieved 101 victories to be the sentimental favorite among those who prefer to root for the team that seems to be the weakest. But at the moment we can say that the Orioles are a team that everyone likes.
Baltimore is not the big favorite in the American League this title belongs to defending champion Houston – and the Orioles don’t have much playoff experience. What they have is a young, dynamic squad that has shown consistency and adaptability.
“A big part of our success this year is how athletic we are, how versatile we are,” manager Brandon Hyde said. Guys can play anywhere.
When the Orioles host the Rangers for the first game of the division series on Saturday, they will start the postseason with another sensation. Three teams – Baltimore, Texas and Arizona – reached this round, having lost at least 100 games two years earlier. Apart from the fact that the payroll did not play a big role, six teams are among the highest payroll and six are among the bottom.
The Orioles, who have lost 110 games in 2021 and have the 29th most expensive roster, are perfect. Although there are doubts about whether the team will be able to maintain its foundation in the coming years.
While Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschmann are key figures who could lead the franchise for a long time, Baltimore has a balance and depth that has allowed them to rely not only on one player.
“There are days when we don’t show our strength, but we have speed and athleticism,” outfielder Cedric Mullins said. I would say that balance comes from the ability of each individual to take the leadership role. Even someone in the bank might have a bad day, come in later and something happens.
For such a young team, the Orioles had great performances at the plate. They finished the regular season without losing a series sweep and have never lost more than four games in a row.