What else can baseball fans do in January but dream of October? In You May Say I'm a Dreamer, the Outside Corner staff will imagine the route to a World Series in 2013 title for all 30 teams.
After a miraculous 2012 season, the Baltimore Orioles weren't counted on to contend again in 2013. They were called a fluke, a one-year wonder, and quite frankly, just not a contender in the loaded AL East. But here we are, and eight months after the Ravens brought a Super Bowl championship to Baltimore, the Orioles have brought Charm City a World Series championship.
Much like in 2012, the Orioles used a strong bullpen to thrive in 2013. Closer Jim Johnson followed up a 51 save, 2.49 ERA 2012 by saving 47 games and posting a 2.77 ERA. Brian Matusz, who thrived in the bullpen late in the season, continued his success in his new role, striking out 93 hitters in 79 innings and pitching to a 1.14 ERA as the primary setup man for Johnson. Troy Patton and Darren O'Day also solidified the Orioles bullpen by repeating their fantastic seasons from 2012, and the team's 28-11 record in one-run games was pretty damn similar to their 29-9 record in 2012.
Baltimore's rotation also held their own in the tough AL East, mostly because they stayed healthy. Jason Hammel, last year's breakout performer from the Orioles, made 30 starts and threw 183 innings of 3.49 ERA baseball. Wei-Yin Chen's second year in America was a vast improvement on his first, throwing 204 innings with a 3.62 ERA. Chris Tillman threw 174 innings and had a 3.83 ERA. Miguel Gonzalez struggled after a solid 2012 with a 4.31 ERA, and Jair Jurrjens had a bad debut in the AL East after posting a 4.47 ERA, but the dominance of Baltimore's bullpen helped offset their bad seasons.
Offensively, Adam Jones was expected to lead the Orioles offense, and he did…to a degree. Jones hit 29 homers and stole 19 bases, but ihs OPS fell to .821. Still, it was a solid year after a fantastic 2012 season. Catcher Matt Wieters blossomed offensively, smashing 32 homers with an .855 OPS in the heart of the Orioles lineup. JJ Hardy's slash stats all kicked up a notch, and combined with his 25 homers, he posted a .789 OPS. Young Manny Machado looked like a star in the making after posting an .811 OPS with 12 homers and 10 steals.And then, there was Nick Markakis, who finally rebounded after four straight disappointing years, hitting 24 homers, stealing 20 bases, and posting an .875 OPS. Welcome back, Nick.
The Orioles won the AL East by a game over the Blue Jays, an appropriate finish after Baltimore finished two games behind the Yankees a year ago. In the ALDS, Baltimore faced off with the AL West champion Athletics, and beat their fellow unlikely contender in five games. Once the ALCS came along, the Orioles faced off with those same Blue Jays they topped in the AL East, and swept the heavily-hyped Toronto team. Finally in the World Series, Batlimore squared off with the defending champion San Francisco Giants. The Orioles won the battle of black and orange in six games, handing Baltimore another championship win over San Francisco in 2013. Their 2012 came out of nowhere, but their 2013 showed that this team is here to stay.