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Playoff-bound Baltimore Orioles have made one of baseball’s greatest 2-year climbs

If it feels like the Baltimore Orioles have accomplished something historic these past couple years, there are some numbers that back that up.

After beating Tampa Bay in extra innings Sunday, the AL East-leading Orioles are 93-56 for a winning percentage of .624. Two years ago, they finished 52-110 (.321). Only one team has ever improved its winning percentage by .300 or more within two seasons, according to Sportradar.

That was the New York Giants, way back at the beginning of the modern era. They went from 48-88 (.353) in 1902 to 106-47 (.693) in 1904. Their improvement of .340 will remain the record for at least a little longer because it’s mathematically impossible for the Orioles to surpass it this year. But Baltimore, which clinched a playoff berth Sunday, could still join the Giants with an improvement of over .300.

There’s actually a Baltimore connection to those New York Giants. One of the moves that helped turn the Giants around at the beginning of the 20th Century was hiring John McGraw away from the Orioles as player-manager in 1902. The Baltimore franchise then moved to New York and became the Highlanders, who would eventually be called the Yankees.

Some other big two-year improvements:

Boston Braves — from 52-101 (.340) in 1912 to 94-59 (.614) in 1914. The “Miracle Braves” of 1914 were 26-40 at one point before storming back to win the pennant and World Series.

Boston Braves — from 38-115 (.248) in 1935 to 79-73 (.520) in 1937. The 1935 team was the last of Babe Ruth’s career, and he hit .181 in 28 games. The franchise briefly changed its name to the Bees after that and was above .500 within a couple years.

Cincinnati Reds — from 56-98 (.364) in 1937 to 97-57 (.630) in 1939. Cincinnati capped its quick rise with a pennant in 1939 and a World Series title in 1940.

New York Yankees — from 69-85 (.448) in 1925 to 110-44 (.714) in 1927. That 1925 season was an aberration — Ruth played only 98 games — and New York won the pennant each of the next three years.

CHASING 60

It’s a bit under the radar, but Freddie Freeman of the Los Angeles Dodgers has a chance to become the first player to hit 60 doubles in a season since 1936. He has 55 with a couple weeks remaining. Joe Medwick hit 64 and Charlie Gehringer had 60 in 1936. The record is 67 by Earl Webb in 1931.

Six players have made it to 60. More recently, Todd Helton hit 59 in 2000 and Nick Castellanos reached 58 in 2019.

TRIVIA TIME

Despite their loss to the Orioles on Sunday, the Rays also clinched a postseason spot. It’s their fifth in a row. They became the eighth franchise in the wild card era to have a streak of at least five consecutive playoff appearances. Which are the seven others?

LINE OF THE WEEK

Milwaukee’s Brandon Woodruff shut out Miami in a 12-0 victory Monday. It was his first nine-inning complete game. He’d thrown a seven-inning one in 2020.

Woodruff is 5-1 with a 1.89 ERA in 10 starts this season, and his return in August from shoulder problems occurred right around the time the Brewers started taking control in the NL Central.

COMEBACK OF THE WEEK

San Francisco came back from four runs down to beat Cleveland 6-5 in 10 innings Wednesday. Down 5-1 in the seventh, the Giants had a win probability of 3.7% according to Baseball Savant.

After Wilmer Flores singled home a run in the seventh, J.D. Davis hit a three-run homer in the eighth to tie it. LaMonte Wade Jr. won it with a sacrifice fly.

TRIVIA ANSWER

The New York Yankees and Atlanta have done it twice each. Cleveland, Houston, St. Louis, Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Dodgers have done it once.

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