(This post was written before Erik Bedard's stunning performance last night, so his numbers look even better now!)
The Emergence of Jeremy Guthrie
Let's put Guthrie's amazing performance into perspective:
AL Leaders in ERA
D. Haren 1.91
J. Guthrie 2.45
J. Verlander 2.78
AL Leaders in WHIP
J. Guthrie 0.920
D. Haren 0.943
J. Shields 1.037
P. Byrd 9.2
C. Sabathia 6.4
J. Shields 5.3
J. Santana 4.2
J. Guthrie 4.1
Guthrie is the textbook example of why wins don't matter when assessing a pitcher's performance. Every peripheral that matters, he dominates in.
Erik Bedard is Still the Ace
Outside of two bad outings in April (vs. Minnesota and Oakland), Erik Bedard has pitched great this season and is pitching even better than last (even including those two rough outings). He lead the league in strikeouts, he's in the top 20 in the AL in ERA, and his K/BB ratio is 3.8.
But is he even better than he looks? His FIP is tied for third in the AL so the defense has been letting him down a bit. He is striking out a sick 11.1 per 9 and he's a staff workhorse (only Daniel Cabrera has more innings pitched, 103 to 100.). Make no mistake, he's still the team's best pitcher and probably one of the top 5 pitchers in the AL.
And What About That Other Workhorse?
Daniel Cabrera on the surface looks to have taken a step back this season. His ERA is up and the K rate is down. But how useful has he been this season?
As stated before, Cabrera leads the team in IP at 103. Every team needs at least one workhorse on the staff and Cabrera is providing that this year. When your former manager mismanages and overuses your bullpen, this role increases in importance.
The K rate is down but the K/BB rate is up slightly due to Cabrera shaving almost 2 off of his BB/9 rate. His WHIP is at a career low (1.38) too. So what's his undoing? The longball. He has already given up 14 HR, a career high and we're not at the All-Star break yet. He could be having a bad year as far as that goes but it's way out of line with his career numbers; he's always been really good about keeping the ball in the park.
He's still a great part of this staff but maybe as a third or fourth starter and not a number one or two. I say we don't trade him.
OPS Leaders for Baltimore
First off, Brian Roberts is having an absolutely sick year. He leads all AL second baseman in OPS and that number doesn't even take into account his 25 stolen bases (at an 86% success rate!). I hate to say it but Peter Angelos meddled correctly when he blocked the Brian Roberts\Hayden Penn for Adam LaRoche\Marcus Giles trade.
Second, Kevin Millar is the O's second best offensive player and needs to be in the lineup everyday. Now, the fact that a guy with a .785 OPS is our second best player is not something to be proud of but it's also nothing to sneeze at. Millar brings decent pop to the plate and, something that this lineup really needs, plate discipline. He gets on base like a madman, only Roberts draws more walks.
The loss of Tejada was big.
Nick Markakis continues to develop his game. You have to remind yourself that this guy is only 23.
Although I had hoped for a Mora resurgence this year, his numbers are way closer to 2006 than his 2007 output. This is probably about what we're going to get from him from here on out.
Mora at Third
Although Mora has been a bit disappointing at the plate, that has not been the case in the field. Mora leads AL 3B in fielding percentage, is solidly in the upper half of in his Zone Rating (just above A-Rod, just below Brandon Inge; not too shabby) and is fourth in the league at making outs on balls out of his zone. If you've watched the O's regularly, you've seen him make all the plays, the routine and the spectacular.
I used to believe there would not be much of a dropoff if Aubrey Huff had to play third sometimes but no longer.
On a side note, before his injury Miguel Tejada was turning in the best overall performance by a SS in the field this year (1st in ZR, 2nd in FPct) although my criticism about him turning the double play seems to be correct (10th out of 14 in double plays started in the AL).