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Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Over/under: Wins for Orioles

By David Schoenfield

If you're a high school senior and a fan of the Baltimore Orioles, you've never seen your team post a winning season.

Sure, they made the playoffs back in 1996 or 1997 when you were 2 or 3 years old, but you wouldn't actually remember that.

It's been 14 consecutive losing seasons for the Orioles. It's been six straight seasons with 90-plus losses. It's been 90-plus losses in nine of the past 11 seasons. This franchise is going through a historic period of ineptitude, and it's not all because they play in the tough AL East. No, the Orioles have simply been a joke for far too long. No wonder attendance has declined from 3.71 million in 1997 to 1.75 million in 2011.

Last season the Orioles scored 708 runs and allowed 860, ranking seventh in the AL in runs but last in runs allowed. They allowed 54 more runs than any other AL team and 98 more than the third-worst team. The Orioles brought in two left-handers from Japan, Wei-Yin Chen and Tsuyoshi Wada, as rotation candidates. They'll hope that Brian Matusz (who has looked good so far in spring training) will rediscover the strike zone. Zach Britton and Jason Hammel will anchor the rotation.

Offensively, the Orioles should once again have power -- they ranked fourth in home runs. But low OBP guys like Adam Jones and Mark Reynolds meant the team ranked just 10th in OBP. That will have to improve for the O's to score more runs.

The over/under is 71 wins. Hey, that would be the most wins for the club since 2005.