The 2020 MLB season is now over for the Baltimore Orioles. After winning yesterday to move to 10 games under .500, the Orioles closed the shortened season at 25-35. In some ways, it was a rousing success. In one glaring way, things were business as usual.
Fans got to see the future of the team in Ryan Mountcastle, DJ Stewart and Cedric Mullins finally either arriving or living up to expectations. Anthony Santander continued a blazing end to 2019 with a great, albeit injury-shortened, 2020. Renato Nunez played competent 1B and DHed his butt off. This team could score, they could hit, and they even stole a few bases along the way. It wasn’t just mashers on top of mashers. It was gritty, old-school baseball at its finest on the offensive side.
On the pitching side, we saw Keegan Akin make his debut and not get completely destroyed in the process. Same with Dean Kremer. We saw Tom Eshelman pitch to a 3-1 record while also bringing down his opposing hitter’s BA and earned runs from a year ago. The bullpen lost a cog in Mychal Givens, but gained prospects and talents who may be part of the next good Orioles team. Alex Cobb got unlucky sometimes and just got dinged others. He’s only under control for one more year and could see himself traded before everything’s all said and done. John Means didn’t look as dominant this year, but did end his season leading the Orioles in strikeouts with 42.
Brandon Hyde has control of his team and, like a young Buck Showalter, isn’t afraid to give his players what they need to hear versus what they want to hear. Brandon Hyde and his coaching staff, even with losing records, exemplify the Oriole Way. It’s a beautiful thing to look forward to.
And then there’s that one glaring way things stayed the same: the inefficiency of Chris Davis.
The first spring training saw Davis return to form a bit. Now, I don’t know if it was the COVID stoppage or Crush Crashing into Cremation, but he somehow played worse this year than ever before. Due to stints on the IL and a general inability to hit, we saw Davis limp (figuratively and literally) to 16 games and a .116 batting average. He hit six times over the course of 52 at bats. For you and me reading this, 6/52 may be damn impressive against MLB hitting. However, Davis, long the butt of jokes in the baseball world, is still a signed Major League player.
He doesn’t play like one, though.
That’s where things get tricky. Mike Elias was somewhat noncommittal, all but saying “we’re only here so we don’t get…to eat every ounce of the rest of the contract when we release him.” Davis has lost many supporters in Baltimore, both among the fanbase and seemingly among the coaching staff. We knew that the contract was going to blow up in Peter Angelos’ face. We just didn’t know that it would reach this point. All we can hope when it comes to Davis is that he bows out gracefully before he hits .050 next season or something ridiculous.
It’s obvious that he’s done all he can here and possibly in the sport, period. We all know that some players have late-career renaissances. Look at Jose Bautista when he got to Toronto or Mark Reynolds in the last two years of his career (although is 2018 in Nationals Red was as a part-timer). Hell, we can look at pitchers like Adam Wainwright and say “okay, it’s possible to turn things around.” I fear that Davis, however, is at the point of no return and he’s been there for years.
Cut him loose, Mr. Elias.
Like I said, Chris Davis aside, the Orioles gave fans a lot to hope for from their 2020 season. No, they didn’t have a winning record. Unfortunately, their current losing record streak now stands at four seasons (2017-2020). But they also weren’t as wholly terrible as many pundits had them being before and during the early parts of the season. It goes to show that sometimes, you just need to let the boys play and let the runs come where they may.
I’m looking forward to 2021. I hope that fans can actually see some of the games in person. That also means “hey, I hope this COVID crap cooperates with most infectious disease trajectories and people start to get past it, even with masked-up activities for the next few years.” So, mask up, be safe and say “hey, the Orioles won’t be booty juice forever. The light at the end of the tunnel’s getting closer and closer.”