Orioles well-positioned to win World Series
Rotation depth, going deep just two reasons for first title since 1983
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles have clinched the American League East and now have their sights set on October. Baltimore, which put together an impressive second-half run, has had a commanding lead in the division, but that won't mean much -- besides home-field advantage -- in the playoffs.
So can the O's keep this going? Sure, but they'll have to rely on a lot of the guys -- and trends -- that got them here in the first place. Here are five reasons why the Orioles can win the World Series, in no particular order.
1. Rotation depth
Yes, you've heard it before: The Orioles have no ace. But what they do have is five starters very capable of turning in a quality outing, a fact on near-nightly display during the second half of the season. How is that an advantage over relying on one or two guys? Manager Buck Showalter can play matchups, put starters in the bullpen and probably won't have to worry about bringing back guys on short rest because of the number of options. It also does a number for team psyche; the O's know they can win regardless of which starter is on the hill.
2. The home run ball
In case you missed it, this Orioles club likes to go deep -- a lot. Baltimore leads the Majors in home runs and is on pace to post its third consecutive 200-plus homer season as a team. The O's are 46-11 in their MLB-leading 57 multihomer games this season and 74-31 when hitting at least one homer.
3. Nelson Cruz
Speaking of home runs, there's no better example of power potential than Cruz, who is enjoying a career year with 39 homers and 102 RBIs.
Cruz is a playoff veteran and has traditionally been a guy that turns it up when the stakes get high. In seven career postseason series, Cruz has 14 homers and 27 RBIs, posting a .278/.336/.683 line in 34 games. Particularly without Chris Davis, at least to start the postseason, Cruz has and will continue to be a pivotal part of the O's lineup.
4. The bullpen
Orioles relievers deserve quite the nod this year, carrying the rotation through lulls and covering for nights the offense just can't keep it together. First-year closer Zach Britton will be tested heavily in the postseason, as will back-end guys Darren O'Day and Andrew Miller, but the O's have one of the best -- and deepest -- bullpens in baseball and Showalter will play every matchup possible to give his club the edge.
5. The Buck effect
Showalter's teams are nothing if not prepared and fundamentally sound, and the Orioles' fantastic defense has won them plenty of regular-season games. In the postseason, when everything is magnified, it figures to be even more important. Showalter has managed in the playoffs, but never claimed a World Series. Could this be his year?