Are the 2018 Orioles the Worst MLB Team of the 21st Century?

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Every once in a while, there’s a team that defies the odds, and performs at a historically tragic level in sports. The Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns went 0-16; the Charlotte Bobcats won just seven games in a shortened 66-game NBA season; the Detroit Tigers went 43-119 in 2003. And given the status of their franchise, as well as what could be on the horizon on the trade market within the coming days, the Baltimore Orioles may very well be the worst MLB ballclub of the 21st century — putting themselves in that class amongst other losing teams.

Going into the 2018 regular season, no one viewed the Orioles as a World Series threat, but they were a team with a plethora of talent that had the ability to pose a legitimate Wild Card threat. Boy, has that ship sailed. Currently 29-73, the Orioles own the worst record in Major League Baseball. Yes, you read that right, the O’s are 44 games below .500. To put that in perspective, there are 23 teams in baseball right now who have at least 44 wins. The amount of losses the Orioles have literally equal a team with a near .500 record.

It hasn’t been just one facet of their ballclub, in fact, every single aspect of the O’s roster has been a trainwreck in 2018.

Throughout the better half of this decade, the O’s have posed one of the biggest threats in the game at the plate with Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Chris Davis, among others in their lineup, but this season they’ve been one of, if not the worst grouping in baseball. Going into Tuesday night, they were 29th in runs (360), 28th in hits (784), 29th in team batting average (.228), and 30th in on-base percentage (.290). Trey Mancini went into the night hitting .221; Jonathan Schoop was hitting .235: Chris Davis was hitting .155; Mark Trumbo was hitting .252; Danny Valencia was hitting .250; Tim Beckham was hitting .215, and Chance Sisco was hitting .195. Jones was hitting a respectable .277, but there has been talk of him heading to the Cleveland Indians via trade (which FOX SportsJon Morosi first reported).

The O’s franchise player, Machado, was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers last week, removing a player who led the team in average (.315), hits (115), home runs (24), on-base percentage (.387), and RBIs (65) from manager Buck Showalter‘s order. But the trade also departed a player who excelled in the field — furthering the O’s struggles to simply compete. Their starting pitching has also contributed a great deal to those woes.

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Going into Tuesday night, the O’s were 29th in team and starter ERA (4.88, 5.30). They were 24th in strikeouts (772), 7th in walks surrendered (355), and were tied for 30th in opponent batting average (.278). Veteran righty Andrew Cashner has been the team’s most reliable starter, but his ERA lies at 4.40 while his WHIP lies at 1.50. Kevin Gausman owns a 4.54 ERA; Dylan Bundy, who got off to a strong start, now owns a 4.57 ERA; free agent signing Alex Cobb owns an abysmal 6.17 ERA, and veteran Chris Tillman was released two weeks ago after owning a 10.46 ERA and 2.21 WHIP.

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The O’s starting staff has been unable to keep their team in games, pitch deep into games, and is arguably the worst staff in the Majors, just like their lineup; it’s the double whammy for Showalter and the O’s.

This season has been atrocious in every way possible for the O’s. They’re in last place in the American League East, have the worst record in the game, are seeing little to no one producing on a reliable and consistent basis, and have players enduring discouraging seasons after encouraging 2017 trails. Schoop was considered a viable candidate for the AL Most Valuable Player of the Year Award, Mancini was a finalist for Rookie of the Year, and Beckham had a coming out party in 2017. This season, the three of them have been lost at the plate, and management added some veteran arms in Cashner and Cobb in the offseason; the O’s shouldn’t have been this bad. But the reality of the situation is that this is one of the worst teams in franchise history, and it may be a very long time before they’re an AL threat again.

The O’s showed their cards, in terms of where their mindset is as the July 31 Trade Deadline approaches, by trading Machado to the Dodgers and All-Star closer Zach Britton to the New York Yankees. And it appears the purge won’t stop with the superstar infielder.

According to The Athletic‘s Ken Rosenthal, the O’s have received phone calls on Bundy and Gausman, from the Colorado Rockies in particular. The fire sale doesn’t appear to be over, and the end result of this face change could see some of the team’s most prominent figures playing elsewhere — or at least the ones that remain.

To say that a team will finish with — or less than — 43 wins in Major League Baseball sounds absurd, but the O’s may legitimately get worse between now and the Trade Deadline. They can’t get into any sort of rhythm, are incompetent from all aspects, and are blowing it up. Many teams have won beneath 60 games in recent memory, but it’s becoming a real possibility that the O’s will record the worst record in baseball since the 2003 Detroit Tigers.

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