If this is Opening Day, the Orioles are probably being underestimated somewhere

The Baltimore Sun
Fangraphs projects that the Orioles and Royals will win just 78 games this year.

It happens every spring. The Orioles have been confounding the experts for the past four years, winning more games than anyone in the American League over that period. But, sure enough, they're projected by just about everybody to finish last in the American League East and win less than half their games.

Everybody in the clubhouse is aware of it and it has become such an annual event that it doesn't generate the same clubhouse vitriole as it did a year or two ago.

"I think it's something we've kind of accepted over the years,'' said first baseman Chris Davis. "I don't know if we'll ever be picked to win this division, to be honest with you. I think it's kind of a coin flip every year that the favorites always are usually the Yankees or the Red Sox, now the Blue Jays obviously with the year they had last year and the moves that they've made.

"This division, it's always tight and it's always a grind all the way down to the end, so I don't think we put much stock in where we're projected to finish."

Manager Buck Showalter probably likes his team to feel a bit unappreciated. He said before Monday's season opener that he can understand what people outside the team might see on paper -- especially with regard to the starting rotation -- but the past-performance numbers don't tell the whole story.

"We've answered these same questions last year and 2014 and the year before, and that's OK. I understand what it looks like on paper. But I've got a pretty good cheat sheet on everybody and I'm in the lockerroom with these guys and around them and I know what they're about. So, I think some people miss that about them.

"Let's be frank, a lot of it is with starting pitching projections. I think our guys understand that. They've got a pretty quiet burn about it." 

Maybe you can make the case that Fangraghs, for instance, has good reason to predict the Orioles (and the defending world champion Royals) will win only 78 games this year. It's just that just about everybody has done the same thing projecting the O's win total for the last four years in a row and -- let me repeat -- the Orioles have won more games over those four years than any other AL team.   

"I've said many times, these projections, people love to see what supposedly baseball-educated people predict," Showalter said. "But we're going to find out. There is no hiding from 162 games."

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