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Orioles powered way to postseason in 2016

Slugging offense, Britton anchoring 'pen yielded success, Wild Card berth
MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles exceeded external expectations in 2016. Inside the O's clubhouse, there were expectations of a deep postseason run and proving everyone else wrong.

But despite falling short of the goal of October glory -- Baltimore suffered a tough season-ending loss to division-rival Toronto in the American League Wild Card Game -- the O's had another winning season in 2016 and left with plenty to be proud of. There were numerous AL All-Stars, guys who had career years, and a ridiculous power display that had the ability to wow all of baseball on any given night.

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles exceeded external expectations in 2016. Inside the O's clubhouse, there were expectations of a deep postseason run and proving everyone else wrong.

But despite falling short of the goal of October glory -- Baltimore suffered a tough season-ending loss to division-rival Toronto in the American League Wild Card Game -- the O's had another winning season in 2016 and left with plenty to be proud of. There were numerous AL All-Stars, guys who had career years, and a ridiculous power display that had the ability to wow all of baseball on any given night.

Before the calendar flips and all attention shifts to 2017, let's take one last look back. Here are the top five storylines from last season.

:: 2015 Year in Review | 2016 Outlook ::

1. Zach Britton's All-Star season ... and postseason disappearance.
There was no denying that Britton had a special season. The O's closer went a perfect 47-for-47 in save opportunities and was part of the All-Star Game in San Diego. Britton, who received the AL's Mariano Rivera Reliever of the Year Award, was also nowhere to be found in the Orioles' biggest game of the season.

O's manager Buck Showalter warmed up the lefty several times but never used him in the 11-inning loss to the Blue Jays. The move was talked about more than the Orioles' season ending as Britton was perfectly healthy.

"It was just frustrating having to sit there watching that,'' Britton said, "and not being able to pitch. It's frustrating watching the guys battle ahead of you. You want to go in there, and do the same. But it's not my call."

Said Showalter after the loss: "There's so many different things that go on. You can use Zach Britton in the seventh and eighth inning and not have anybody to pitch the last inning. So there's a lot of risk taken every inning, every pitch. You take that on when you get in this format."

Video: Britton goes 47-for-47 in save opportunities

2. That insane power.
Mark Trumbo's 47 homers lead the Majors. Trumbo and Chris Davis -- who led the Majors in homers in 2015 -- combined for 85 homers on the year as the O's trotted out a deep lineup that had six guys with at least 20 home runs.

Video: Trumbo named AL Silver Slugger Award winner

3. It's Manny's world
Manny Machado had a career year offensively as he continued to establish himself as one of baseball's best all-around players. The 24-year-old, who put on a nightly defensive clinic at third base, batted .294 with 37 homers and 96 RBIs. He was named the Most Valuable Oriole in September.

"It's always an honor," Machado said at the time. "It's something that's humbling. I see it more as a team thing. The team gave me the opportunity to put up the numbers that I had, and have the great season that we all had."

Video: BAL@TB: Machado plates five runs off Rays pitching

4. Waiting on the starters' surge
The rotation was in a constant state of flux in 2016, as the team's bullpen and offense helped keep it competitive most nights. While rookie Dylan Bundy was a nice story, he moved from the 'pen to the rotation out of need and was cautiously moved along, tiring some at the end.

Yovani Gallardo had a disappointing first year with his new club, and midseason acquisition Wade Miley was slow to adapt to Baltimore as well. Ubaldo Jimenez struggled and was removed from the rotation, only to rebound and become one of the Orioles' best starters down the stretch. Overall, though, starting pitching was again an area of weakness for Baltimore and a major storyline.

Video: BAL@TB: Jimenez strikes out six batters in two-hitter

5. Red-hot start
Baltimore came firing out of the gate, winning seven games in a row to open the season. The O's rode that first week to an early first-place standing.

On June 1, they were two games back of the Red Sox at 29-22; to open July they were four games up on the Sox at 47-32. When the first half closed, the O's were on top of the AL East and 15 games above .500 (51-36) on the way to an 89-73 finish and a tie with the Blue Jays in the standings, four games behind the 93-69 Red Sox.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

 

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