Thursday, May 3, 2007

Random (and Troubling) Numbers for the Baltimore Orioles

OK, I pimped this fact when things were going well so I have to say it now. The O's were the hottest team in the AL not too long ago. The are now the coldest team in all of baseball! Yeesh.

So what's wrong? Plenty.

The Pitching

The pitching staff is greatly improved and leads the league in strikeouts but they also lead the league in walks. However, they are also the stingiest staff in the league (by a good margin) at giving up homeruns. Baltimore pitchers are actually pitching even better than their records and ERAs would suggest (except maybe Steve Trachsel and Adam Loewen).

The bullpen is good but is being terribly overworked. The games played projections for the "big 5" in the O's bullpen:

Baez - 81
Bradford - 92
Parrish - 81
Walker - 86
Ray - 81

Bradford's numbers would be the second highest total in the last 35 years. All the bullpen will be in the top 60 all-time for appearances if this keeps up. This will result in either reduced effectiveness or injuries before they get to these levels though.

The Lineup

The O's could be hitting better but they are 6th in the league in hits. The real problem is that they are 12th out of 14 in the league in slugging. They aren't getting enough extra base hits to score runs consistently. The O's OBP is not great either, no big surprise since the O's are not a patient team at the plate.

The bench mark for plate patience is pitches per plate appearance (P/PA). For reference, Johnny Damon leads AL regulars with 4.5 P/PA, Frank Thomas is at 4.0 and Vlad Guerrero (who is a freakishly great hitter but notoriously impatient) is at the bottom of the league at 3.2 P/PA.

The O's leaders in P/PA:

Millar 4.4
Roberts 4.2
Mora 4.1
Markakis 3.9
Hernandez 3.8
Gomez 3.7
Huff 3.6
Tejada 3.6
Gibbons 3.3
Patterson 3.2

No shock that Millar is the leader here and should probably be the starting DH/LF over Gibbons until he breaks out of his slump. Roberts and Mora come next with Markakis just outside the 4.0 threshold. Mora surprised me a bit because he swings a lot but I'm guessing he fouls off a lot of pitches.

Compared to the rest of the AL East? Boston has four regulars over 4.0 and only Mike Lowell is below 3.7. The Yanks have three over 4.0 but no one else exceeds 3.7. Only Frank Thomas is at 4.0 or above for the Jays and nobody on Tampa is over 4.0.

What does this mean? Who knows? It looks like the O's aren't nearly as impatient at the plate as I thought, especially compared to the rest of the division. The problem is not patience then but what they are doing to the ball once they get around to swinging.

Corey Patterson has been the most clutch Oriole this season. In addition to other feats he is hitting .364 with runners in scoring position. Nick Markakis, for all his late inning heroics, is only hitting .177 with RISP.

And finally, here's a graph that shows graphically how Baltimore has plummeted to Earth. They are represented by the blue dashed line.

Happy Thursday everybody!

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