Although it might not appear so, there are many reasons to be optimistic about these Birds. Illustration by Getty ImagesThe Orioles are a poor team. Since the late 1990s, they have not been a great team. They did win their 17th division title and got swept in 2014's ALCS, but that was it. Since 2000, the Orioles have been 4th or 5th in AL East 16 times. Since 2000, they have only reached the playoffs three times and won just one playoff series. It's been a difficult couple of decades.AdvertisementThe Orioles are on a losing streak of 20 games in 2021, just like the Arizona Diamondbacks. They are currently at the bottom division's halfway point. They have the lowest per-game run differential of any American League team (-1.3). They were the only league team to have a 0 percent chance of making the playoffs at the beginning of the season.The Orioles have achieved something that no other team has done, despite all of this. The Orioles beat the Boston Red Sox, who are currently the AL East's leaders, at the beginning of the season. Only the Houston Astros has been able take all games in a series against Red Sox since then. The Astros have been swept only by two other teams, the Detroit Tigers or...the Baltimore Orioles.It's true. Baltimore Orioles have been the only team to sweep two division leaders in MLB. Baltimore won both sweeps, even though the Orioles are currently 15-28 on their road schedule this season!It seems that 2021 has more topsy-turvy nonsense than any other season. More than half way through the season, the Giants lead their division. The Yankees are a joker more than any Dane Cook has ever spoken. After a terrible start to the season, Joey Gallo and Kyle Schwarber in Washington are enjoying incredible hot streaks. Buster Posey, 34 years old, is enjoying the best season of her career (Posey is a MVP and yet this season is his best ever).We knew that the Orioles would be bad. Except for John Means and Trey Mancini, no one was expected to be of any value to this team. Although Ryan Mountcastle was a potential player and Cedric Mulins (should have started the All-Star Game), they were not expected to be major players in 2021. The Orioles have done better than expected, despite having very low expectations. FanGraphs predicted the Orioles would win 67 games. PECOTA: 68. FiveThirtyEight, 63. A few Orioles analysts had predicted that the team would win between 64-73 games before the season. Baltimore currently has 54 wins.An awful schedule has been a problem for the Orioles thus far. Did you know that the Birds have suffered the fewest losses to teams below.500 this season? It's a fact. They have six losses against losing teams, which is less than any other team. The Angels have seven of these losses, while the Rays have eight and the Dodgers nine. The Orioles have a losing record against teams that are losing. They are currently 5-6. They've played only 11 games against bad teams, 13 less than the Los Angeles Angels. Baltimore has had to play more games than any other team against good teams. The Orioles have played 17 more games against teams that are better than.500 than any other league team. This is a major reason why they have suffered 48 losses against winning teams.AdvertisementBaltimore is not much better in the second half. Out of the remaining 81 games on the Orioles' schedule, 49 are against teams above.500. This is in a way the best-case scenario for them. Baltimore knew that they were not going to be competing this season. This means that they will have to play a very difficult schedule.Y is going to be a great pick in the draft. You have no excuses for the poor performance of your team. Your fans and you have good reasons to be optimistic about the future.It is also important to note that series sweeps are a key part of this. This team's potential is evident in the fact that the Orioles are able to not only keep up with Astros and Red Sox, but also dominate them for a brief stretch.AdvertisementI believe Anthony Santander will rebound from this terrible season and be back to his 2020 form. There is no reason to believe Cedric Mullinas will make a drastic decline (his power numbers are likely to drop in 2022), and Means could be a true ace. This team has a lot of great players. There is no reason to believe that this Orioles team could not compete for the division title in just a few seasons if they can keep those key players and Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman, their top prospects. They won't be the laughingstock in the American League for much longer.