Even though they didn’t make the playoffs, the 2022 season has to be viewed as a resounding success for the Baltimore Orioles community, and this includes ownership, front office, manager, coaches, instructors, scouts, and fans.
The team won 31 more games this year than in 2021, and finished with a positive record.
That hadn’t happened in a while.
They didn’t make any major trades or free agent acquisitions: they just did a better job spotting talent and working with them to get the best out of each player.
That, and the confidence boost they gave to their youngsters by calling them up at the right time and letting them slump and learn were the keys to the Orioles’ breakthrough.
This process yielded some excellent results for the franchise: it’s what allowed Jorge Lopez to turn into an elite reliever and what helped build a very solid pitching staff with Dean Kremer, Jordan Lyles, Spenser Watkins, Keegan Akin, Dillon Tate and our favorite breakout closer of the year: Felix Bautista.
Bautista Took The Closer Job And Never Looked Back
The Lopez trade to the Minnesota Twins opened up the ninth inning for Bautista, and he really took off with the role.
“Félix Bautista‘s 2022 Statcast numbers: • 99th percentile in fastball velocity • 97th percentile in strikeout percentage • 92nd percentile in whiff percentage,” Orioles on MASN tweeted.
Félix Bautista's 2022 Statcast numbers:
• 99th percentile in fastball velocity
• 97th percentile in strikeout percentage
• 92nd percentile in whiff percentage
— Orioles on MASN (@masnOrioles) November 3, 2022
Bautista used an incredible fastball to put a 2.19 ERA in 65.2 innings.
That’s some elite performance, validated by an incredible 34.8% strikeout rate.
The Orioles found a way for Bautista to thrive off his fastball: it remains the most important pitch in baseball, and the right-hander sure has a great one.
The best part is that he is under team control for “cheap,” for at least several more years.
Bautista will be there to finish off close games for the next Orioles’ great team, probably starting in 2023.