Orioles Are Bad, But Not This Bad

The AL East had a pretty tidy storyline heading into the season. The Yanks, Sox, and Rays are perhaps the three best teams in the AL, and they were set to do battle and eliminate at least one from playoff qualification. The other two teams, the Orioles and Blue Jays, didn’t factor much into anyone’s accounting of the division, and for good reason. Even outside the AL East neither figured to field a contending team.

While the Blue Jays went into full-blown rebuilding mode this winter when they traded Roy Halladay, the Orioles have been busy acquiring young players for almost three years now. While there was little chance they’d pull an 08 Rays and surprise everyone, they still presented a compelling story. Savvy franchise builder Andy MacPhail took the reigns from over-involved owner Peter Angelos and gave O’s fans hope. It’s only a matter of time before the AL East features four powerhouses.

Even though no one expected the Orioles to finish even third in the division, it was a pretty reasonable projection for them to place fourth, ahead of the Blue Jays. Yet in the early goings the Orioles have been, by far, the worst team in the majors. They picked up just their third win of the season yesterday, and even that took them 10 innings, and a nearly blown lead, to accomplish. On Monday morning the team found itself at 3-16, 4.5 games behind the next worst teams in the league, the Royals and the Pirates, both at 7-11.

When examining what Baltimore has done so far, a few things stand out as aberrant. First, the production they’ve gotten from first base. When MLB Trade Rumors asked front office executives about the worst off-season signings, many answered Garrett Atkins. He’s proven them right, posting a .239 wOBA in 61 PA. He should start to see reduced playing time now that John Rhyne Hughes has joined the team. While he might not rank among the league’s best first baseman, he’ll present a significant upgrade over Atkins’s production. It’s difficult not to.

The middle infield has also caused Baltimore offensive issues this season. Brian Roberts remains on the DL, which hurts right off the bat. His first replacement, Julio Lugo, has been worse than Atkins, though in fewer than half the number of plate appearances. Still, his .137 wOBA will keep him on the bench while manager Dave Trembley runs with Ty Wigginton‘s hot bat. It’s an offense for defense sacrifice, but the sacrifice works the other way for shortstop. Cesar Izturis is there for his glovework, but his bat has been below even the low standard he’s set for himself.

In the outfield and at DH the Orioles also have a few underperformers. Adam Jones tops the list. He’s clearly better than his current .263 wOBA indicates, and many of his woes stem from a .242 BABIP, perhaps further due to his drawing only one walk in 87 PA. He’s been swinging and missing at many pitches out of the zone while laying off pitches inside it, so it sounds like something that should even out in the next few weeks. He’s shown that he’s an excellent hitter, but even good hitters can find themselves in nasty slumps.

After off-season surgery to repair his Achilles’ tendon, Nolan Reimold has spent plenty of time at DH to start the season. But with Felix Pie out for at least a couple of months Reimold has a chance to step up and be the every day left fielder. He’s started slowly, just a .287 wOBA to this point, but he’s another guy who has shown that he can hit better than that. Maybe his recent move to the leadoff spot will help. That means Luke Scott continues taking the majority of his at-bats at DH. He continues the theme of slow offensive starts, just a .293 wOBA at this point.

While Wigginton will certainly fall a bit from his lofty numbers, the Orioles can expect rebounds from a number of their offensive contributors. In addition to increased production all-around from Jones, Scott, and Reimold, the Orioles could further benefit when Matt Wieters finds his power stroke. While he’s hit well so far it has been mostly singles. His ISO sits at .074, a number he’s probably capable of doubling this season. Add to that the return of Brian Roberts, and the Orioles offense could be in decent shape at this point next month.

On the pitching side they’ve posted a few crooked numbers, and once they start to even out things should be just fine. Brad Bergesen will try to find his rhythm in AAA, and in the meantime his replacement will almost certainly allow fewer than 14 earned runs (20 in total) in his first 10.1 innings. Mike Gonzalez is through blowing saves for the time being, leaving a hole in the bullpen. Matt Albers has been pretty bad in his 8.2 innings so far, and got absolutely trashed over the weekend against Boston. The bullpen just isn’t going to be a strength on this team.

Will the Orioles make a huge turnaround and flirt with a .500 season? At this point it’s out of the question. It’s still early, but even a very good team will find it difficult to emerge from a 3-16 hole. Their Pythag record bodes a bit better, but even then that’s 6-13, about 51 wins in a full season. I still don’t think that their true talent is this bad. Once their better offensive players star to hit to their potentials they’ll close that run differential. Maybe they’ll even go on a run after they fire Trembley. For now, though, it’s just another rebuilding season in Baltimore.



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Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.


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Pat
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Pat
6 years 4 months ago

I didn’t know the late John Hughes could still play!

Mitch
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Mitch
6 years 4 months ago

Pretty impressive if you can write an entire “they’re not this bad” article and never once mention a .183 team batting average with RISP.

Reuben
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6 years 4 months ago

Most SABR people think that stat is meaningless is probably why. I don’t really know how I feel about it though.

Matt Walsh
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Matt Walsh
6 years 4 months ago

It’s far from meaningless. The sabermetricly inclined believe that BA with RISP should correlate to BA in all situations. However, anyone with a statistical background should look at that ridiculously low number and anticipate a regression to the mean (which would mean a lot more runs).

Not David
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Not David
6 years 4 months ago

I’m with Matt, certainly isn’t meaningless.

Travis L
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Travis L
6 years 4 months ago

I don’t think it’s meaningless, but I think it is only useful for a retrospective analysis. So it belongs in the conversation of “how have the Orioles been unlucky.”

Where it has no place is how announcers use it. When they flash it up during an at bat it says, “Player A has had this average with RISP so far this year,” implying that it reflects how well they are likely to do in the future.

Also, I think some of the hate against it stems from the lack of info it tells you (insert general shortcomings of BA as a stand-alone stat here)

hello
Member
hello
6 years 4 months ago

Did Rhyne Hughes change his name out of nowhere?

Baron Samedi
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Baron Samedi
6 years 4 months ago

How likely is it now that Baltimore will finish last in the East?

Mark
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Mark
6 years 4 months ago

About as likely as it should have been before the season started. Jays are a superior team.

David
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David
6 years 4 months ago

I 100% disagree. Once everyone on the Orioles starts playing like they should then they are pretty handily a better team than the Blue Jays in my opinion.

Chris
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Chris
6 years 4 months ago

does this mean that there’s a good chance of Josh Bell and Brandon Waring getting called up around the ASB?

Mike
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Mike
6 years 4 months ago

i agree with David, they are not playing any where near their potential.

OzzieGuillen
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OzzieGuillen
6 years 4 months ago

Adam Jones is as overhyped as they come. Eventually we have to conclude that he is what he is and not another Carlos Beltran type.

Matusz and Wieters do bring hope, however.

Ryan
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Ryan
6 years 4 months ago

The Jays don’t have their best team on the field yet, and won’t until about midseason. The Orioles pitching was never going to be better than the Jays, neither was the team as a whole.

Chin Soran
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6 years 3 months ago

Peace admin, disastrously I not able to access the website correctly in Avant Browser. I hope you’ll modify that! Pat from Dictionary Software.info

el davido
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el davido
6 years 2 months ago

The Orioles will NEVER get any better until they stop making off season “rebuilding” trades for players that other teams give up so readily-HINT? Especially players that are 10+ years older than a team that is truly rebuilding. The team has been rebuilding for 20 years. The pitching staff is and has been; sorry for lake of a better term- AA pitchers with a major league salary. This team is such a splintered mess. 20 games below .500, 55 games into the season. 19.5 games out of first place. This used to be a team that other teams would dread to play. Now, it’s an easy 2-3 wins and move on. Until the Orioles can come up with a game plan and follow it, they will remain cellar dwellers.

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