20 December 2016

Win These 3 Bar Bets About the 2016 Orioles Season

I rarely make bar bets, mostly because I don't go to bars or bet that often. But from popular culture I understand bar bets are a thing that people do. I suspect that for Orioles fans this offseason, bar bets are something we would do if only we had a bet to make. After all, there's no live baseball and when the team is mostly tinkering around the edges, leaving little news to discuss. What better way to pass the time than to make bets about the Orioles while hanging out in bars?

In this spirit, I present three bar bets you can win when discussing the Orioles' 2016 season at your local watering hole (or remote watering hole, if you're traveling for the holidays). All are team records they set this year. Use them to get a free Natty Boh when the night is young but you're out of money.

Most players with 30+ HR in a season (3)

Recent Orioles teams have favored the long ball, but until 2016, no Orioles team saw three players hit at least 30 dingers in a season. This year Mark Trumbo (47), Chris Davis (38), and Manny Machado (37) helped the team set this record.

Here are the previous record-holding seasons, where two players hit 30+ four-baggers:

  • 2015: Davis, Machado
  • 2013: Davis, Adam Jones
  • 2012: Davis, Jones
  • 2011: J.J. Hardy, Mark Reynolds
  • 1996: Brady Anderson, Rafael Palmeiro
  • 1987: Eddie Murray, Larry Sheets
  • 1969: Boog Powell, Frank Robinson
  • 1966: Boog Powell, Frank Robinson

Davis and Machado should repeat next year. Will Trumbo return and do it again? Even if he doesn't come back, Jonathan Schoop could take his spot. The young second baseman swings out of his shoes on seemingly every pitch and knocked 25 last year.

If Trumbo does come back, the Orioles could set a new team record with four players hitting (pardon the pun) the mark. And don't discount Jones, who hit 29 last year. If he stays healthy he could make it five.

This year, Boston (David Ortiz, Mookie Betts, and Hanley Ramirez) and Seattle (Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, and Kyle Seager) also had three players with 30+ dingers. The most any team has had is four players. The last team to do this was the 2009 Phillies with Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez, Chase Utley, and Jayson Werth.

Most consecutive wins to start the season (7)

The 2016 Orioles season ended in disappointing fashion, so it's easy to forget that the year started well. The Orioles won their first seven games, the longest such streak in team history.

A 3-2 walk-off win over the Twins on Opening Day set the tone for the streak. After a weird off day, the Orioles won the next two games by a score of 4-2. Series win in hand, they headed to Tampa Bay for a two-game set with the Rays and won both contests.

The Orioles returned to Baltimore where they squeaked out a 9-7 win against the Red Sox in the home opener. The next day they pushed their winning streak to seven games before losing the last game of the series to Boston, dropping them to 7-1 on the young season.

Before this year, the next-longest season-opening winning streak was in 1970, when the team won five straight to start the year. If you stretch your definition of the Orioles to include the St. Louis Browns, then the 1944 Browns have the franchise record with nine straight wins to open that season. Expanding the scope to all baseball since 1913, the 1982 Braves and 1987 Brewers share the major-league record with 13 straight wins to start those seasons.

Most batter strikeouts in a three-game series (52)

While facing the Astros in Houston from May 24th-26th, Orioles batters whiffed 52 times. That set not only a team record but also (ugh) a major-league record.

In the first game, every man who stepped to the plate struck out at least once. Three batters had a hat trick: Davis, Trumbo, and Pedro Alvarez. Three batters struck out twice: Jones, Matt Wieters, and Ryan Flaherty. Machado, Joey Rickard, and Caleb Joseph struck out once. The only Orioles position player to not strike out was Nolan Reimold, and that's only because he appeared only as a pinch runner. The team totaled 19 K's; every Astros pitcher that day struck an Oriole out.

Game 2 was more of the same: 18 K's for the Orioles. Every batter struck out at least once except Hyun Soo Kim, who had three hits and walked once. Alvarez had another had trick, as did Jones. Astros starter Collin McHugh punched out 10 Birds in 5.1 innings. Each reliever notched at least one K.

By Game 3 the Orioles adjusted their approach and struck out only 15 times. Again, every Orioles batter except one (Alvarez) struck out at least once. Davis matched Alvarez with his second hat trick in the series, and Schoop joined in with one as well. Astros starter Lance McCullers, who owns a ridiculous curveball, bested rotation-mate McHugh by whiffing 10 batters in 5 innings. I watched this game with a friend who's an Astros fan and basically buried my head in the sofa cushions the whole time.

So there you have it, friends: three records the Orioles set for themselves as a team this year. Use these fun facts to swindle inebriated bar patrons or just to have some fun during the Hot Stove season. Either way it'll be more fun than discussing which Rule 5 pickup is going to end up being a full-time player for the team this year.

Inspiration for this post provided by the December 16th paper from the Baseball Records Committee of the Society For American Baseball Research (SABR). All data from Baseball Reference.

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