BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Following Thursday night’s 11-4 win to earn a series sweep over the Philadelphia Phillies, the Baltimore Orioles are a surprising 10-7 and sit in third place in the American League East. The hot start for the O’s has made them among the teams with the largest jump in playoff odds since the start of the season.
According to SportsLine’s playoff odds projection model, the Orioles had a 0.9% chance of making the postseason prior to Opening Day. Heading into Thursday night’s game, the model had improved the Orioles’ odds to 18%, a full 17.1% jump over the course of three weeks since the start of the season.
FanGraphs has shown a similar jump for the O’s. Prior to the year, they sat with just a 1.3% chance of making the postseason and were projected to finish with a 19-41 record. Now, those odds have improved to 16.1% following Thursday night’s win.
As WJZ Sports Director Mark Viviano points out, a preseason analysis by ESPN suggested that 10 wins was a reach for this squad. The collective grit and effort under manager Brandon Hyde has already laid such a prediction to rest less than a third of the way into the season.
— Mark Viviano (@MarkWJZ) August 14, 2020
The hot start hasn’t been a fluke either. The Orioles sport a positive run differential (+15) that ranks fifth-best in the A.L. behind expected playoff contenders in the Yankees, Rays, Twins and A’s. And, they’ve been impressive on the road so far at 7-1.
Granted, there is reason to be cautious about the optimistic outlook for the playoffs. The O’s are just 3-6 against teams with winning records this season. Their pitching staff is just average, with starters ranking 17th in ERA (4.56) and relievers ranking 16 (4.19).
But, the offense has been impressive. The O’s rank second in the league in batting average (.269), second in OPS (.810), and eighth in home runs (27). Hanser Alberto (.351), Jose Iglesias (.383) and Pedro Severino (.333) have been on fire out of the gate. The power has been evenly distributed, with nine guys hitting at least one homer on the year and four with four or more so far.
Obviously, this comes with a caveat. The team isn’t at the one third mark of the season yet. They still have seven games against the Rays and eight against the Yankees left. They swept the Rays in their first meeting, but dropped both games against the Yanks. Add in three games against the Braves and a couple more against the Nationals, and there are obstacles ahead. But, to this point, Brandon Hyde’s squad is exceeding expectations.