If you’re Orioles right-hander David Hess, no one could blame you for having mixed feelings about his team’s historically dismal 2018 season.
The 25-year-old got the chance to pitch 21 games (19 starts) at the major league level, which was pretty cool, but he won only three of them and the team lost a club-record 115 games, which wasn’t cool at all.
So, do you take away the warm glow of reaching your ultimate goal as a young baseball player or beat yourself up because you didn’t make a case to be Rookie of the Year?
“You’ve got to take a little bit of both,’’ he said this month at the OriolesREACH Holiday Party. “You’ve got to take it at face value. The reality is that we need to do better. As a pitcher, individually, I need to do better, so I’ve been doing everything I can to make strides and focus on the things that will help make that happen.”
To be fair, it would have been tough to come out of last season with a winning record no matter how he pitched. Hess was 3-10 with a 4.88 ERA, which is reflective of both the learning curve most young players experience and also the rancid performance of the team overall.
There are pitchers out there who won more games than they lost with the ratios and ERA that Hess produced, but only four relievers — Richard Bleier, Ryan Meisinger, Mike Wright and Zach Britton — had more wins than losses on the Orioles roster, and both Wright (5.55 ERA) and Meisinger (6.43 ERA) had ERAs much higher than Hess.
Still, Hess said he doesn’t know anyone on the team that is ready to concede that 2019 is going to be another 100-loss season.
“I think I can speak for the entire team when I say that nobody wants to go out there with the anticipation that they’re going to lose that night,” he said. “I know the guys that we have. I know the competitiveness that’s in them.”
He also knows that no one can take anything for granted with the team under new leadership.
“There could be a lot of changes still coming between now and spring training and even when the season starts and finishes,’’ he said. “I do think that each and every guy is going to give everything they have. There’s a pride that comes into it where really everybody wants to go out there and make an argument why — in a few years and even this year whenever we’re winning and in the playoffs and where we want to be — they want to earn a position for themselves. So, I think guys are going to step up more than people realize this year and next year.”