Wow, what a ride this season was; it was truly the most amazing baseball experience of my adult life! Of course I wish that it had ended with a World Series Championship, but, especially considering the expectations entering the year, the results have to be considered a massive success. Outside of the Orioles organization, everyone around the game of baseball was predicting another last place finish for the perennially disappointing Birds of Baltimore. But the Orioles would finish the regular season with a 93-69 record, precisely flipped from their 69-93 mark in 2011. Buck Showalter continued to show his ability to turn around a franchise, as he pretty much has done everywhere else he has managed in his career, and General Manager Dan Duquette proved that he still has "it" after being out of professional baseball for a decade.
I don't entirely expect the 2013 Orioles to duplicate this team's success, in part due to the 2012 Orioles' all-time record breaking .763 winning percentage (29-9 record) in one run games, an insane 76-0 record when leading after the 7th inning, and the resulting lack of a walk-off victory by an opposing team all season. Those are some silly stats that just won't be equaled. However, with the addition of a major free agent arm or bat, the team could be in the neighborhood of this year's record.
An encouraging fact about the 2013 Orioles is that very few of the key 2012 players are set to become free agents. As far as I know, Mark Reynolds, Randy Wolf, and Luis Ayala all have contract options, and Joe Saunders, Nate McLouth, Endy Chavez, Jim Thome, Nick Johnson, Bill Hall, Lew Ford, Omar Quintanilla, Steve Pearce are all set to become free agents. In my opinion, the team will pick up Ayala's option, try to renegotiate something with Reynolds, and attempt to bring back Saunders, McLouth, and possibly Thome. So ultimately, the core of the team will remain the same into 2013 & beyond.
I obtained the autographs in this post over the last few weeks of the season, and especially Gonzalez and Saunders are excellent representatives of the Orioles' improbable 2012 playoff run. I was able to get a few more of my dad's card creations signed, and they are perfect for filling some non-Orioles holes in my collection. Thanks again for all of your work on the cards this year, dad!
Congrats again to the team, the fans, and the city of Baltimore on an amazing 2012 campaign. Let's Go O's!