If the Orioles weren’t the most surprising team in the first half of the season, they certainly are. Every expert weighing in on the team expected 100+ losses again before the start of the 2022 campaign, and even fans who were hoping for a modest improvement didn’t expect much better than that. The Orioles, at 46-46 through their first 92 games, have done much to disprove naysayers who refuse to believe anything will be different about this year’s team.

It’s hard to blame anyone for not expecting much from this team. They bring back many of the same faces from last year’s 52-110 loss. Some of these pitchers are now in different roles: Keegan Akin and Jorge Lopez look like good bullpen converts instead of destructive starting pitchers, and Tyler Wells’ change in the rotation has left him as the best O starter by ERA in at least 10 starts for the team.

In addition, many people are in the same place as they were last year. It’s better now. Even if you were allowed to imagine something better (or improved) about the 2022 team, a lot of it would probably revolve around watching John Means, Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall dominate the MLB rotation. Means suffered a season-ending injury after two starts. Rodriguez is injured. Hall has a million guys strike out while walking too many guys for Norfolk.

The only thing that seems to go right is that once Adli Rutschmann was finally able to debut, he was as good as advertised, especially defensively. Rutschman has already posted a 1.3 bWAR in 46 games; Our past switch-hitting “savior” catcher, Matt Wieters, finished his rookie season with a 1.4 bWAR in 94 games.

Still, the Orioles are where they are. It was fun. Even if the rest of the season is less fun than the first half, the O’s have at least broken through the gloom. They seem to be possible next season. Prospects like Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westberg, who play positions the 2022 Orioles are weak at, are performing well at a high level. More are coming. Few, perhaps, would be traded to the Orioles rotation in future years for better pitchers than Austin Voth and Spencer Watkins.

The best Orioles ever

There are five 2022 Orioles with 2.0 bWAR or higher. list:

  • Austin Hays – 2.8 WAR
  • Ramon Urias – 2.5 WAR
  • Cedric Mullins – 2.5 WAR
  • George Mateo – 2.0 War
  • Trey Mancini – 2.0 War

Mateo was able to do this even after taking a bad beating. His defense is just as good. After seeing him, it’s hard to argue with him! Mullins also looks good in the war, even though he has lost 135 points in slugging percentage from last year. Protection helps! The improved defense probably helps explain much of the unexpected improvement in the pitching staff as well.

The five worst Orioles of all time

These numbers are also using bWAR.

  • Kyle Bradish – -1.0 WAR
  • Bruce Zimmermann – -0.9 WAR
  • Chris Owings – -0.5 WAR
  • Travis Lakins Sr. – -0.4 WAR
  • Chris Ellis/Paul Frye/Calvin Gutierrez – -0.3 WAR

These guys have one thing in common. None of them are currently active in the team! Bradish, Ellis and Lakins are currently on IL. These remaining children were discontinued when it became clear that their performance was not up to snuff. That’s another big difference from last year, where the absorption guys seemed to be around forever, even if they weren’t young or interesting enough to think they had any upside for a good future Orioles team.

Estimate Vs. the reality

Fangraphs: 76-86 (preseason: 65-97)

Pequot: 79-83 (preseason: 61-101)

Thirty-five: 76-86 (preseason: 62-100)

That’s a big change in these projections compared to preseason expectations. None of them are sure the Orioles will be contenders the rest of the way, but the fact that they’re all projecting the O’s to at least play on pace for a 70-win full season is really something. PECOTA, in particular, hadn’t budged from his preseason 61-101 projection in mid-May when the Orioles were a better-than-expected 14-18.

Part of the reason their predictions are good now is because there is a win in the bank. That is, regardless of the rest of this team’s trajectory, they have already won 46 games. Another late realization is that this is no longer actually a sub-400 winning percent organization.

Of course, the Camden chat writer didn’t expect much from the 2022 team, not much different from the model. The only one of us who predicted more than 70 wins was Stacey, who thought the Orioles would win 72 games. At this point, it would seem disappointing if the Orioles win 20 more games than last season.

Wild guess

My wildest prediction from just before the season has already come true: The Orioles snapped their streak of winless months before the five-year mark with their 14-12 record in June. Good job, self.

Some other Camden chatters also see their wildest predictions come true. Stacey’s prediction that the Orioles will finish fourth ahead of the Red Sox is good enough. The O’s are currently just 1.5 games behind Boston. As for the Red Sox, Alex predicts the Orioles will hit .500 or better against at least one AL East opponent. They are 5-3 against the Red Sox thus far.

I don’t think we should discount Andrea’s preseason prediction that Kyle Stowers will be the right fielder at the end of the season. All it would take is a trade or injury to Anthony Santander to make this a reality.

Shout out to a commenter whose wild prediction (well, half) has already come true: fiat95 predicted the Orioles would be in the hunt at the All-Star break. First comment by nikhil430, who predicts no one will be traded at the deadline. Great job!

Big question

What do you think will happen at the MLB level for the Orioles in the second half of the season? Will they trade any (or any!) players before this year’s August 2nd deadline? Where do you expect their record to end up? Are we going to see any more potential call-ups?