During his end-of-season press conference last month, Mike Elias made sure to acknowledge the “historic feat” that was the Orioles’ turnaround.
“I hope the city of Baltimore remembers this group to remind the world that this is Baltimore and we play baseball here,” Elias said.
Among those the Orioles officially recalled were Elias’ peers, who elected the Orioles general manager as MLB Executive of the Year, as announced Tuesday morning.
In 2021, the Orioles have only won 52 games. Two years later, they were the best team in the American League and won 101 games, reaching the century mark for the first time in over four decades. This difference of 49 wins over a two-year period constitutes the largest turnaround of its type in MLB history.
When Elias was hired in November 2018, he was taking over an organization that had just lost a franchise-worst 115 games. While owning the worst club in big league baseball, the Orioles lacked a healthy farm system and were considered outdated when it came to analytics and international scouting.
“This organization has, in its history and in its DNA, been considered at one time the smartest, most forward-thinking, most progressive organization in baseball,” Elias said during his press conference. introduction five years ago. “The fact that it’s been the case here before means it’s possible it could be the case here again.”
Elias, who also received the top executive honor at The Sporting News, was hired to lead an overhaul, and the rebuild he initiated produced 100-loss seasons in 2019 and 2021. The reboot has started to pay off in 2022 when Baltimore came out of the cellar and into playoff contention. The Orioles won 31 more games in 2022 than the previous year and finished the season as the best team in the AL not to make the playoffs.
Nearly every team in MLB history that shattered the glass ceiling as violently as Baltimore did in 2022 regressed the following year, but not Elias’ Orioles.
Behind a collection of young people, veterans, castoffs and rebuilding survivors, the Orioles won 18 more games in 2023 against baseball’s best division. The AL East title was the club’s first since 2014 and only the third in the last 40 seasons, although that success was halted in the postseason by the Texas Rangers, who swept the Orioles in the AL Division Series en route to a World Series title.
The main emphasis during the reconstruction was on drafting and development. Elias’ first draft produced miraculous results, with his first two picks — Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson — spending the 2023 season as Baltimore’s best players. Rutschman was an All-Star, Gold Glove finalist and Silver Slugger finalist, while Henderson was voted by local media as the most valuable Oriole and is the favorite to win the AL Rookie of the Year award.
Other Elias draft picks – top prospects Colton Cowser, Heston Kjerstad, Jordan Westburg and Joey Ortiz – have reached Baltimore in 2023, while others – like Jackson Holliday, Coby Mayo and Enrique Bradfield Jr. – explain why the Orioles always boast the best in the sport. farm system, according to Baseball America.
This infrastructure is why Elias believes the Orioles in 2023 were not an anomaly but rather the first of many to come.
“I am extremely confident that we will have another very competitive, entertaining and excellent season next year,” Elias said last month. “We have reached some very important milestones in recent years. This one was huge, and I’m very proud of it, and we want to do it again.
Around the horn
- Last week, the Orioles claimed outfielder Sam Hilliard off waivers and designated right-hander Joey Krehbiel for assignment. Hilliard, a left-handed hitter, is a career .215 hitter in 254 games with the Colorado Rockies and Atlanta Braves over the past five seasons. Krehbiel declined his outright assignment to Triple-A Norfolk and elected free agency, which began Monday.
- Several other Orioles minor leaguers also elected free agency, including right-hander Wandisson Charles, left-hander TJ McFarland, outfielder Daz Cameron and first baseman Lewin Díaz.
- The MLB Players Association named right-hander Kyle Gibson, who led the Orioles in innings and wins in 2023, as one of its three most valuable philanthropists this year. Gibson, nominated for the Orioles’ Roberto Clemente Award, received $5,000 for his selected charity, Big League Impact.