Originally written on SportsBlooded  |  Last updated 5/17/12

When you look at the standings in the American League East there is a surprising team on the top of the list, the Baltimore Orioles. Currently sitting at 25-14, the Orioles are a half a game above the Tampa Bay Rays and sit in the top spot in the Al East. We’re only a month and a half into the 2012 MLB season, but the Orioles are showing that they can actually compete in the toughest division in all of sports.

The two biggest reasons for their surprisingly good start is the strength of their starting rotation and their bullpen. Starter Wei-Yin Chen has been a huge surprise for the Orioles as he’s posted an era of 2.45 with 32 K’s and only 14 BB’s. Add Jason Hamel’s ability to post a 2.68 era after having a career era of 4.86 and the Orioles have upgraded their rotation in two big spots. Their bullpen has also been strong only allowing 34 runs in 139 innings. Closer Jim Johnson is a perfect 12 for 12 in save opportunities this year and set-up man Pedro Stroop has an era of 1.29 with 5 holds.

With the unbalanced schedule, the Orioles will have a tough road ahead for them to continue to contend in the AL East. So far, they’ve played teams in the AL East strong, posting a record of 13-7, but they’ve been crushed in years past because of the strength of the rest of their division. Last year they posted a record of 28-44 against the AL East and a record of 41-49 against the rest of the league. They’ll have to continue their winning ways against teams in the AL East if they want to have a shot at breaking their current streak of 18 years without a winning season. Being above .500 at the end of the year would be a huge accomplishment for the Orioles. Contending for the AL East title would just be the gravy on top.

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