There has been some revival of the old Oriole’s Magic theme over the past few years. In 2012, given all the extra inning and 1-run victories, it did seem to apply. Last year? Not so much. It’s back again this year, and although some old-timers feel that theme belongs in the past, this old-timer thinks an argument can be made that a different type of Oriole’s Magic is at work in 2014.
The All-Star catcher who already averaged around 20 HRs and 66 RBIs (IIRC) in his career and who appeared to be on his way to his best offensive season (although his throwing was puzzlingly off) is lost to the team for the year after only about 30 games, explaining his throwing problems and leaving the team without a very important piece.
Last year’s top slugger appears on pace to hit about half as many HRs and accumulate far fewer RBIs than in his breakout 2013 season. Both of these declines are actually tolerable, but the ridiculously steep decline in his BA has hurt the team in some key situations and by not creating other opportunities. (To be fair, Chris has had some very important hits and continues to play excellent defense.)
The platinum glove 3B and rising star misses the 1st month of the season, struggles both offensively and defensively in May, and goes out with an injury again in early August. The team will get maybe an effective half-season from Manny.
The dependably consistent 20+ HR SS is on pace to hit maybe half that many, but to an extent he’s made up for that with his high BA, continued stellar defense, and some key base hits. Still, the loss of that expected power output if predicted in April would clearly have been seen as a big negative.
The designated closer quickly showed he wasn’t a good fit for that role, and a former starter whose very career was in question is called upon to take over – a job he has done very well (although he has not looked sharp his last 3 outings).
The most expensive free agent signing in the team’s history, the guy who was supposed to solidify our SP rotation has blundered through too many of his starts, and leads the AL in walks despite missing 3 weeks (and presumably around 4 starts) of the season.
And yet, even with all these things going wrong, the O’s have a 7 game lead going into the last 40 games. It must be Magic! Right?
BTW: A .500 record during the home stretch gives them 90 wins, and since just before the All-Star break, this team has played at well over that level.