An argument could be made that the Orioles fielded a club this season with more stability — and talent — than the one that won 93 games and advanced to the American League Division Series in 2012.

But playing in the rough-and-tumble AL East that wasn't enough for the Orioles to make a return trip to the postseason. Now the focus in the Warehouse turns to how executive vice president Dan Duquette can upgrade the club and get it back to the postseason next year.

The Orioles had breakout seasons from first baseman Chris Davis who led the majors in homers and RBIs and third baseman Manny Machado who played Gold Glove-caliber defense and led the AL with 51 doubles.

The team's batting order was one of the game's most imposing but the Orioles suffered through a second-half slide and finished the season 28-34 after winning their first four games following the All-Star break.

“We know we have a number of areas we need to improve upon” Duquette said. “Playing in the American League East and playing a 162-game schedule that will reveal your strengths and also your developmental areas in things you need to work on to get better. I think that we scored a few more runs this year than we did a year ago and we gave up I think four more runs than we did a year ago. But we didn't really convert on some of our chances.

“We have to improve in both areas. We need to improve our run production. Our slugging was good but our on-base capability certainly needs to improve and our pitching needs to improve.”
The ERAs of the Orioles' starting rotation and bullpen went up from 2012. But the bullpen's struggles coincided with having to pick up additional innings when starters were unable to go deep into games.
Duquette said the goal is to have a rotation rich with pitchers who can log 30 starts and 200 innings as right-hander Chris Tillman did this season. Tillman started 33 games and logged 2061/3 innings while going 16-7 with a 3.71 ERA.

But in a free-agent pitching market not rich with front-of-the-rotation arms — Matt Garza Hiroki Kuroda Bartolo Colon and Ervin Santana are the headliners of an otherwise unspectacular crop — the Orioles likely will look to further develop their existing pitchers rather than paying a premium on the free-agent market.