January is drawing to a close, and the offseason hot stove is still frozen like a TV dinner. Recent baseball news has been reduced to HOF discussions and think pieces about lazy ownership, and while they have their place and time, in our current baseball-depraved state they are far from fulfilling. What I do find fulfilling, however, is remembering the 2017 Yankees' season and all the fun moments there were, like the times that they absolutely dominated the Baltimore Orioles.
Having watched the Yankees play the Orioles some 19 times this past year, I knew on some level that the Yankees did very well against them, based on recollections of Aaron Judge teeing off on Baltimore's pitching (fun fact: he hit .426/.588/1.049 against them). What surprised me was just how complete the destruction was.
The Yankees' 12-7 head-to-head record against the Orioles is good, but it doesn't exactly scream total domination to the observer. However, that record masks the fact that the Yankees scored a whopping 154 runs in those 19 games. That's an average of 8.1 runs per game, if you're wondering. The Yankees reached double digits five times, and scored at least seven runs in each of their twelve wins. Only once did they fail to score at least four runs. After looking at the numbers, it's hard not to feel sorry for Baltimore's pitching staff. Pitching against major league hitters must be hard enough without having to get clobbered two-thirds of the time.
Trying to explain why the Yankees did so well against the Orioles is pointless, because all of the facts are on the table. The Yankees had a very good offense, and the Orioles had very bad starting pitching. Only one pitcher on the 2017 Os - Dylan Bundy, congratulations - managed to pitch a quality start against the Yankees (he had two). What I want to highlight is the fact that, in all likeliness, these two truths will continue to be truths during the 2018 season as well.
All of the Yankees' big bats - Judge, Sanchez, Bird, Gregorius - will be back this year. A full season from Bird and the addition of GIANCARLO STANTON will likely take an already good offense to the next level. Some volatility exists with Gleyber Torres/Miguel Andujar/Aaron Hicks, but the upside of these players are undeniable. There's a real chance that the 2018 Yankees' lineup will reach 2017 Astros territory.
Meanwhile, the Orioles' starting rotation is arguably in a worse spot than it was in 2017. As Jon Morosi notes, Wade Miley, Ubaldo Jimenez, Chris Tillman, and Jeremy Hellickson - all of whom made at least 10 starts for the O's in 2017 - are free agents, leaving the current Orioles rotation with Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, and some dudes they found off Craigslist.
Morosi also points out that due to arbitration raises for core players like Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop and Zach Britton, the O's don't really have much payroll space to work with, meaning that a top-shelf starter isn't really in their price range. At this point, the only thing preventing the Yankees from feasting upon the O's rotation is the possibility that Baltimore can't find enough warm bodies to occupy their vacated slots.
Baltimore's rotation situation gives the Yankees some much needed leeway in the AL East. While in theory all other AL East teams should benefit from the Orioles' starting pitching, the Yankees' unparalleled firepower puts them in a unique position to dominate the Orioles, possibly giving them a crucial boost in the division race. And while many of the Yankees' losses to the Orioles in 2017 can be chalked up to Tyler Clippard being bad or Dellin Betances being wild, the Yankees should be able to avoid such problems in 2018 given their current bullpen configuration.
Good teams should beat up on bad teams, and this year's Yankees should do the same to the Orioles. If nothing else, I am here for Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge hitting 500-footers onto Eutaw Street.