Why the Orioles probably won't repeat their winning 2012 season

Baltimore had a great run last year, but history portends that 2013 won't be as kind

Adam Jones
(Image credit: Elsa/Getty Images)

In the compendium of AL East spring storylines — Toronto's massive yet polite spending spree, Boston's attempt to rid itself of the Bobby Valentine hangover, New York's apparent disinterment of an Indian burial ground and subsequent curse — a debate has developed over which Baltimore Orioles team we'll get this season. Before 2012, we all had a fix on who the Orioles were — poorly run and indifferently managed, a veritable lost-and-found box of washed-up veterans, prospects who didn't so much bust as burst into flames, and the occasional star who inspired pity at being stuck there. Since 1997, when the last good Orioles team ran into the buzzsaw that was the late-90s Cleveland Indians, Baltimore has been a Superfund site: 14 straight seasons of .500-or-worse baseball, bottoming out with a five-year run of 69 wins or worse from 2007 to 2011.

Then, last season, the Orioles turned things upside down. The team for which baseball fans had the lowest expectations won 14 of its first 23 games, played .500 ball for half the season, then rocketed into the playoffs with a 37-18 mark in the year's final two months. It was as improbable a turnaround as any: Baltimore went from 69 wins to 93 in the span of one season.

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