Thursday, September 30, 2010

2010 Chone vs 2010 Results

I took a look back at some of the CHONE projections for some of the key players from your 2010 Baltimore Orioles and compared them with the actual numbers and added a few thoughts.


             AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS   HR
Projected   .271  .326  .451  .777   17
Actual      .254  .319  .426  .745   22

I thought the projection for Ty looked a bit optimistic and it turned out that it was. Those aren't bad numbers for a bench/platoon type though. If the Orioles could bring him back next year in that role, I wouldn't be opposed. In the field he is a jack-of-all-trades but master of none type but he is a capable sub around the infield and as a corner outfielder.


             AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS   HR
Projected   .255  .301  .334  .635    2
Actual      .236  .282  .275  .557    1

Izzy came in well under even the paltry projections. You have to wonder if the glove is good enough to justify the weak bat. I love having a guy out there who is going to catch the ball, I just don't know if it's worth the drawbacks at the plate.


             AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS   HR
Projected   .273  .332  .435  .767   10 
Actual      .271  .303  .399  .703    5

Man, I like Felix Pie but are these the numbers you wanted to see from him in 2010. He was injured but the lack of patience and relative lack of power make him questionable as anything more than a 4th outfielder in the long term


             AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS   HR
Projected   .294  .349  .497  .846   18 
Actual      .280  .322  .440  .762   19

In a recurring theme, Jones basically held steady instead of making real progress with his bat in 2010. Just another young hitter that is not developing much under the Oriole coaches.


             AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS   HR
Projected   .301  .373  .484  .857   19 
Actual      .293  .366  .426  .791   10

Yeah, yeah...Nick is not living up to expectations. I've beat that horse enough.


             AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS   HR
Projected   .289  .355  .460  .815   15 
Actual      .252  .322  .383  .706   11

This is a load of crap. Where's the Wieters we were promised? A 15.3% line drive rate? Why can't this kid drive the ball? Buck needs to fix this kid if he hopes to win in Baltimore.


             AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS   HR
Projected   .259  .337  .471  .808   21 
Actual      .288  .365  .545  .910   27

The only regular to outperform expectations, Scott has put together a career year. My head says trade him, my heart says stick him at first base.


             IP     K     BB    HR    ERA
Projected   184.0  107    57    28   4.65 
Actual      201.1  114    57    25   3.98

“If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, it must be a duck.” Guthrie has outperformed his projections, his FIP and his peripherals for four straight seasons. You have to accept that even though he is not the classic success story, that he is a good pitcher. He doesn't strikeout a bunch of guys, he gives up his share of homers and he doesn't get a ton of ground balls but he limits the walks and finds ways to get the opposition out.


             IP     K     BB    HR    ERA
Projected   100.0   80    38    13   4.59 
Actual      169.2  134    61    18   4.40

If you extrapolate the difference in innings, that's a pretty good projection for Matusz. The second half has certainly been encouraging.


             IP     K     BB    HR    ERA
Projected   140.0   73    43    18   4.82 
Actual      163.0   77    51    25   5.02

Fairly close for Bergesen too. Given his strong(er) second half, I like Bergy to improve on these numbers next season. He is, as he always has been, a decent looking back of the rotation starter.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Preseason Predictions Revisited

As the season heads into its final week, it seemed like a good time to revisit my preseason predictions. As it turns out, they were fairly optimistic so they were also largely wrong. Here we go.

* Garrett Atkins won't be a regular with this team by June 15th. Somebody has to come to their senses. Nice clutch hitting in Tampa but that can't last.

Done and done. He was released before the end of June.

* Nick Markakis...breakout! Enos Slaughter for the new millennium. I recycling this from last season.

Yeah. Maybe someday but I'm done expecting anything more than average production from Nick at this point. Wrong.

* Brian Matusz....breakout! Don't be surprised if Matusz is having Tim Lincecum-type success (without the gawdy strikeout totals...but damn good ones) by the second half of the season.

Second half stats from Matusz and Lincecum over their first full season:

K/9    BB/9    K/BB   WHIP   HR   ERA
Matusz         7.0     3.2    2.19   1.30    8  4.27
Lincecum       8.6     4.0    2.15   1.30    5  3.38

Matusz has certainly improved as the season has gone along but not quite to the level I had expected. Close though. The walks are down, the strikeouts are up. Things are moving in the right direction.

* Matt Wieters...breakout! I'm going with the Keith Law prediction of "well over .300 with 20-25 homers" for his sophomore season.

Really wrong on this one. Wieters has actually taken a step back. Not a good sign.

* Adam breakout! It would be hard to call this a breakout since he was pretty good last year but I expect that this is the year Jones starts to show people that Adrian Gonzalez is not necessary because the Orioles already have a bat as good in centerfield. Look for an average around .300 with something approaching 25 homers.

Not exactly. If you take away his hideous April, he looks like a guy who can hit at those levels. But he has basically held steady on his production from last year. Wrong.

* 80 wins. That's my guess. And with a little never know.

You wonder what would have happened if Buck Showalter was managing back in April. But the Orioles were lucky to avoid 100 losses. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

* Ben McDonald becomes a surprise hit on MASN.

He's been fine but no better than Brady Anderson.

* Kevin Millwood 2010 = Rick Sutcliffe 1992

It started out that way but certainly didn't end up there. Sutcliffe finished 1992 with 3.1 WAR for the Orioles. Millwood has 0.9 WAR. Millwood almost met the minimal expectations: league average pitching and eating innings. He pitched 180+ innings, which was good, but a 5.29 ERA is only good for an ERA+ of 80, which is not so good. Wrong.

* Felix Pie forces something this summer...a trade, a position change....something.

Pie has kind of made himself the forerunner for the LF job in 2011 since his return from injury earlier in the season. But a batting line of .274/.304/.401 isn't going to lock it down for him. Thus, I doubt the team makes any moves assuming that Pie will be the man. Not so much on this one.

That was kind of depressing. Anyone ready for 2011?

Nick Markakis and Arbitrary Standards

I'm not above beating a dead horse. This blurb from Phil Rogers column in the Baltimore Sun just got to me...

The Orioles' Nick Markakis remains one of the best hitters no one notices. He entered the weekend with 43 doubles, making him only the third player in history to have four consecutive seasons of at least 43 doubles. The other two were Joe Medwick and Tris Speaker.

OK. On the surface that seems kind of impressive, accomplishing something that only two other players have done in the entire history of baseball and keeping some company with Hall of Famers while you're at it.

But a closer look shows otherwise. A cumulative comparison of the four consecutive seasons of 43 doubles or more for each player:

                    AVG    OBP   SLG   OPS+   2B   HR
Markakis '07-'10   .297   .370  .462   120   180   71
Speaker  '20-'23   .377   .467  .578   169   209   39 
Medwick  '35-'38   .351   .390  .583   158   213   93

And their numbers through the end of their age 26 season:

             AVG    OBP   SLG   OPS+   2B   HR
Markakis    .296   .367  .460   118   205   87
Speaker     .340   .413  .494   168   216   39 
Medwick     .338   .373  .560   147   305  131

You can make the case that Markakis is an underrated hitter but not because he hit a bunch of doubles. Speaker and Medwick were on another level when it came to hitting. Markakis brings one aspect of their game but is not the superior hitter that these guys were. Comparing Nick to those guys because of some arbitrary numbers is misguided and an incomplete assessment of his abilities.

I think there is an "Emperor's New Clothes" syndrome when it comes to local writers and fans assessing Nick's true worth. He certainly was one of the more underrated hitters in the game but coming off what is arguably his weakest offensive season, he has become overrated instead. Decent hitter. Not a great one.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Around the Oriole Blog-O-Sphere: Spoiler Alert Edition

Brooks Robinson's career nearly spoiled in Vancouver? Read the true story here!

If you're going to bunt, at least be good at it. Roar from 34 tries to identify the best bunters in Baltimore.

Some guy wrote a Dear John letter to the Baltimore Orioles over at Yahoo Sports.

Hot off his victory against Boston, Expatriate (Baltimore Sports Report) ponders the second-half resurgence of Brad Bergesen.

Funniest. Post. Ever.

Neal S of The Loss Column ponders the strangeness of facing the Red Sox in late September with nothing for Baltimore to spoil.

Forget playing spoiler. Patrick Smith at Bugs & Cranks believes the Orioles have finally come into their own. Almost.

Paul Swaney of Stadium Journey recently reviewed Harbor Park, home of the Norfolk Tides. If you enjoyed that one, he's also reviewed Camden Yards, Harry Grove Stadium (home of the Frederick Keys) and Prince Georges Stadium (home of the Bowie Baysox).

On a subject that is close to my heart, The Oriole Way presents his review of new beer bar that happens to be less than half a mile from Gate H at Camden Yards.

The Eutaw Street Hooligans honor Nick Markakis for being only the third player in MLB history to hit 43 doubles for four straight seasons.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wrapping Up Jake Arrieta

Hi there. Miss me?

The Orioles have shut down Jake Arrieta for the rest of the season as a precautionary measure for a bone spur. Now that his season's over let's take a closer look at it.

               IP    K   BB   HR   ERA   FIP   BB/9  K/9  K/BB
Arrieta '10  100.1  52   48    9  4.66  4.78   4.66 4.31  1.08

The big problem for Arrieta here is the high number of walks, which until recently, outnumbered the strikeouts. His control is an issue and always has been. (He walked 4.19 per 9 in Norfolk too...) His rate of walks for Baltimore would put him dead last in baseball if it qualified and pitchers don't survive that kind of wildness. That will have to improve if he is to have long term success.

However, putting up an ERA near league average is pretty good and the FIP supports that. He only gave up 9 homers for a .81 HR/9 which is a very good sign. And I think his stuff is such that he can get that K/9 rate up over 7, at least.

And in September, a funny thing happened. Arrieta started throwing strikes.

                 IP    K    BB    HR    ERA    FIP    BB/9    K/9    K/BB
Arrieta Sept.   17.1  13     2     1   2.60   2.86   1.04    6.75    6.50

It was only three starts and it would have been nice to see Arrieta make a couple more starts. (Although, Arrieta was up over 174 innings pitched this season; it's likely he would have been shut down, bone spur or not.) But that's a nice little blip that gives you some hope that Jake is capable of overcoming his wildness and that his stuff can play at the highest level. And if he can do that, he will be a big part of the short and long term success of the Baltimore Orioles.

Friday, September 10, 2010

What the Hell is Wrong with Nick Markakis?

One thing has been lost in all this winning of late is the fact that, very quietly, Nick Markakis is having a pretty poor year.

Since his age 24 season, here's some of his rate stats:

              AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS   ISO   BABIP
2008         .306  .406  .491  .897  .185   .350
2009         .293  .347  .453  .801  .160   .317
2010         .289  .367  .423  .790  .134   .325

As many of you know, after that 2008 season, I was predicting big things for Nick. Here was a guy who nearly OPSed .900 at the age of 24 and was heading into his mid and late 20's, what are typically considered a player's peak season. But he has regressed. A lot.

The power numbers are the most striking. I was never a guy who thought Markakis would be a guy who would hit 30 homers a season but I did expect 20-25 with a bunch of doubles. With the crazy onbase skills, that was a guy who could have been a borderline star level rightfielder.

Instead, he is OPSing .790 and even in this season with reduced offensive levels, is a mediocrity at the plate among baseball's rightfielders.I never thought I'd see the day when Nick would be posting a sub-.800 OPS for a season but he's well on his way. On top of that, he has been below average in the field the last two season when examined with various metrics. What the hell happened?

The walk rate is still in the double digits so that's fine. But he has lost points on his batting average and taken a plummet with his power. His BABIP is at career norms so he is not unlucky.

But the big drop is his power. While he's hit a few more groundballs than normal this year, his HR/F% stands at 5.3%, down from 8.0% in 2009 and down from double digits during his first three seasons. With fewer homers, his ISO is down for three straight years, as well as his slugging.

Nick's power is gone, folks. I'm not sure why but he's now clearly a punch-and-judy type with some gap power. He's not a bad player but he's certainly not great one.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Has Matt Albers Turned a Corner?

Orioles fans are wondering if Matt Albers, based on his last few outings, has finally turned himself into a decent relief pitcher.

I was strongly on the Albers bandwagon at the beginning of the season but have since jumped off. My analysis at this point is that while Albers has very good stuff, he can't throw it for strikes. When he takes a little off to improve his control, he's very hittable. That's not a winning combination.

But let's take a closer look at Albers' recent success:

                   IP    K   BB   HR    ERA   BABIP
Albers Apr-Jun    33.2  18   19    6   5.61   .277
Albers Jul-Sep    32.1  24   13    0   2.51   .261

OK, the peripherals in terms of strikeout to walk ratio are not great but otherwise, those are pretty good numbers for the second half of the season. There were some theories that Albers was overworked earlier in the season but that does not appear to be the case; he has actually worked more during his stretch of good pitching.

In April, May and June, Albers never had a FIP below 5.50. Since, his FIP hasn't risen above 3.10.

Yes, the 0% homerun rate is unsustainable but he's always been an extreme groundball pitcher and doesn't give up a lot of home runs anyway (which is why I liked him). His issue has always been the walks and the relatively low strikeout rate.

Can he keep throwing strikes? I am suspect at this point; every time I think he's starting to get it, he implodes. But if he can, he'll be a pretty good pitcher. As we have seen, he's been more than serviceable over the second half. If he keeps the walks down, he's an extreme groundball, decent strikeout pitcher. That's a valuable guy to have in the bullpen.

Now we'll see if he can keep it up for the rest of the season. I cautiously step aboard the bandwagon again...

Around the Orioles Blog-O-Sphere: F**k Your Yankee Blue Jeans Edition

Quick Fact: Since August 1st, the Orioles are 21-14. The Yankees are 20-16 over that same stretch.

Baltimore Sports Report takes a look at the series win against the Yanks and tries to figure out how the Orioles are managing their recent success.

To join the People's Front of Baltimore, you've got to really love the Eutaw Street Chronicles.

Baltimore Sports and Life figures the Most Valuable Oriole has to be either Jeremy Guthrie or Luke Scott and wonders if either may be trade bait over the winter.

As Buck Showalter passed 900 career wins as a manager, Weaver's Tantrum breaks down career wins for other Oriole managers.

Camden Chat runs through "Birds Up, O's Down" for the past week. Not surprisingly, most are up!

Wayward O takes a look at Brian Matusz' new tattoos. Also takes a closer look at Nyjer Morgan.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Alfredo Simon: Rocket Launcher

Early last month, spurred on by a Twitter discussion with Dan from Camden Crazies, I wrote a post about Alfredo Simon and tried to figure out what kind of pitcher he really was. Dan did the same. What did we learn?

I learned that Simon is a groundball/strikeout pitcher who happens to give up a lot of home runs. (With as many homers as he gave up,I had assumed he was more of a groundball pitcher.) Dan thought that Simon's HR rate was a more a product of bad luck than his true tendencies. I disagreed, started writing a follow up, got distracted and never finished it up.

Less than a month, three homers and yet another Twitter argument with Dan later, here's a closer look at the home runs given up by  Alfredo Simon this season, minus the homer he surrendered last night. From

Using Hit Tracker's classifications, of the 8 homers surrendered, 4 were No Doubts, 1 was a Plenty, 2 we Just Enoughs and one was a Plenty but Lucky. Now, the Lucky home runs are going to happen to every pitcher but even if we take that one away, that's still a lot of home runs.

Dan has stated that, with a home run per fly ball rate of 20%, Simon's rate of giving up home runs is unsustainable and that he will regress more to the mean. My contention is that while he may not sustain a 20% rate, he may be a guy who has a HR/FB rate that sits in the high teens because he may be an outlier. Why do I say that?

I agree with Dan in general that a guy with a ground ball rate approaching 50% and a decent strikeout rate is not likely to give up a lot of home runs. However, given the data from Hit Tracker, it appears that Simon's home run rate is not just a product of bad luck alone...he's really getting hit.

Secondly, he doesn't give up a lot of flyballs being a groundball pitcher, so each home run he gives up moves the needle more than it normally would. For example, he has given up 45 fly ball and 9 homers for  a 20% HR/FB rate. Take away the "lucky" shot he gave up to Paul Konerko and that's at 17.8%. That's a 2.2% move on one homer. (But it's still a really high percentage, even if it's not 20%)

Thirdly, most guys who give up home runs at his rate don't get to hang around long enough to maintain a 20% home run rate; they get released. Or sent back to AAA. Simon remains based on his strong start and the fact that the Orioles aren't contending anyway.

I think Simon is an outlier: a groundball pitcher who gives up a bunch of home runs on the occasions that the opposing batters happen to get the ball in the air.

I went back and looked at Pitch FX data and watched video of every home run Simon gave up this year.
Simon has given up 8 of his 9 homers to right handed hitters. Four of the nine homers were on balls in the upper quarter of the strikezone. Seven of them were balls in the upper half of the strikezone. Seven of them were also fastballs.

It's like this: Simon, while having good groundball tendencies, has very hittable stuff up in the zone. And when it gets hit, by a righthanded hitter, up in the zone, the odds are pretty good that it will end up in the seats.

Now this doesn't mean that Simon can't be a decent middle reliever. The real troubling thing about Simon has been his walk rate this season. A reliever with a decent walk rate who is homer prone can still be effective. Combining a penchant for long flies with a 4.14 BB/9 is not the recipe for success.

But make no mistake, the homers will continue, with a HR/FB rate in the high teens or more. The only remedy for it could be improved control.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Matt Garza to the Orioles: "I'm Going to Shove It Down Your Throat"

Britt Ghiroli highlights Rays pitcher Matt Garza's comments to the St. Petersburg Times regarding his start against the Orioles on Friday:

"I owe them a lot of payback for the type of outing I had last time against them," he said to the paper. "They had back-to-back-to-back. So I'm going to make them feel really uncomfortable in the box. So they know, this (stuff) doesn't happen, so don't get used to it.

"I'm going to go in there, hair on fire, like I have been and go after them and say, 'Hey, you got me the first time, well I'm going to shove it down your throat this time.' "

Well, at least he gave us a heads up. First, to the fans. We should definitely watch this game tonight...could get interesting. And the umpires, who should issue a warning to Garza before the game even starts. And his teammates who now have to worry about retaliation. It's a nice bit of bravado to motivate yourself but not the smartest thing to say pre-game. You have also just thrown down the gauntlet to Kevin Millwood who, if he has anything left at all, will now leave it all on the field tonight to outduel Garza.

More quotes from the St. Petersburg Times:

Garza said the key has been staying with his mentality of "staying with my heater until they beat it."

Garza strayed from that plan for a stretch earlier this season, but it was out of necessity.

Well, a quick look at that game in Baltimore where Luke Scott, Ty Wigginton and Adam Jones hit back-to-back-to-back home runs show that Scott homered off a fastball, Wigginton did the same and then Jones hit one on a slider.

And it's not as if the Orioles have not hit well against the best pitchers in the AL this season. Just ask Cliff Lee.

So c'mon meat, show us that million dollar arm. 'Cause I've got a good idea about the 5 cent head of yours.

Beer at the Ballpark: Camden Yards, Baltimore

Baltimore has a long brewing tradition and Camden Yards makes a small nod to that by offering "Old Line Microbrew" kiosks offering better beer throughout the ballpark. There are two kiosks of this type on the main concourse and I spotted one way up in the concourse for the cheap seats; they are all basically the same. They offer local brews in the form of Heavy Seas Classic Lager, Falmouth Copper Ale, Flying Dog Old Scratch IPA and the imported Heineken. At some of these kiosks the selection is expanded to include Guinness, Smithwick's and Harp lager.

The prices are steep, $7.50 for a 16oz pour but considering the park is charging $7.25 for 16oz of Bud Light, it's a relative value. There is also a Blue Moon kiosk on the main concourse behind the home plate area, same price and a better option than Miller Lite.

In the luxury box section there are taps for Stella Artois and Samuel Adams Boston Lager at the various bars.

There are a lot of great beers brewed in Baltimore and Maryland in general and it would be great to see more of them represented at the park but there are some quality brews to choose from.

Now, if you are looking for a great beer experience before (or after) the game, just a block from the stadium is the Pratt Street Alehouse, specializing in English-style ales including three varieties on cask. The prices are good, the beer is great and its proximity to the ballpark make it a must stop if you are a lover of fine ale.