I Cannot Use This Website to Explain the Baltimore Orioles

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Note: This post was composed on Friday; the numbers have changed since then, and quite possibly for the worse.

I just wanted to take a minute to talk about this. I’ve spent some time on this website, looking at the many numbers. I’m no number-reading expert or anything, but I’m pretty sure that according to this website, the Baltimore Orioles are bad at baseball.

There’s one number in particular, called Wins Above Replacement, that states very concisely how good a team is at baseball. The Orioles are the worst team in their division, and the second worst team in their league. Their hitters are the worst in all of baseball, when you consider the badness of their offense and the badness of their defense. Their pitchers are not quite as bad, but they are still bad.

There are many leaderboards you can make on this website, and it is very hard to make one that has an Oriole on the first page. It is very hard to make a team leaderboard that has the Orioles in the top half of it. Very few of the Orioles are good, and the Orioles as a team are not good.

And if the season were over today, Major League Baseball would make the mistake of allowing the Orioles, a bad baseball team, to enter the playoffs.

I can’t think of a delicate way to say this, so I’ll just say it. The Orioles are winning games that they should not win. They have gotten away with this very many times already. How many? Well, the difference between the Orioles’ actual wins and the Orioles’ Wins Above Replacement is about 50 wins. The average for all other teams is about 34. So I would say that an imaginary replacement level team ought to have won 34 games, and a real team ought to have won those 34 games, plus their Wins Above Replacement. This means the Orioles ought to have won 55.5 games. But they’ve won 72 games. So they have won at least 16 games that were not rightfully theirs. Now you may be starting to sense the gravity of what is going on.

Let’s look at a couple of these games that the Orioles should not have won.

June 2, at Tampa Bay. The Orioles faced a good pitcher, in Jeremy Hellickson, who put up a very good line, to wit: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K. The pitcher for the Orioles was Brian Matusz, most noted for posting the highest single-season ERA of all time. Everything, and then some, had to go right for the Orioles to win this game. Well, as it happened, Brian Matusz put up: 7.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K. Endy Chavez, an Oriole and one of the very worst hitters in all of baseball, hit a home run. Then with two outs in the seventh, the Orioles scored again on catcher’s interference and a throwing error, and won 2-1.

May 10, vs. Texas. The Orioles faced a good pitcher, in Colby Lewis, who put up a very good line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 12 K. The Rangers scored five runs. It was all but logically impossible that the Orioles could win this game. But all five of their hits were home runs, including a two-run shot that scored the guy who walked, and the Orioles won 6-5.

I could go on, but really I would rather not. The disregard with which this team has treated the basic order of baseball makes me feel deeply ill. I don’t care to know the sordid details, but evidently the Orioles and their leader, Buck Showalter, have mastered some sort of scheme in which they concentrate their sucking in a handful of horrible games and hoard their skill for the games in which it actually makes a difference. In my mind it is absolutely clear that this sort of thing — frankly, a performance enhancement system; let’s call it by its name — is as criminal, and as repugnant, as any steroid debacle or game-fixing scandal in the history of the sport. If left to continue, it threatens to shred the very fabric of professional baseball. I refuse to stand quietly by and watch this nightmare unfold. Those of you who are with me, speak now.




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38 Responses to “I Cannot Use This Website to Explain the Baltimore Orioles”

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  1. Joe says:

    Oh, look another useless article about the Orioles and how they should suck. In the words of Buck Showalter, there are no Cinderellas in this game, too long of a season. So yeah, continue to look at the negative run differential because that determines everything. Do not look at the record, one of the best over the past month and a half. Do not look at the road record, one of the best in the AL. Do not look at the bullpen, one of the best in baseball. Do not look at the improved defense, one of the best in the league since the break. Forget Markakis is hitting over .340 since moving to the lead off spot, forget the season Adam Jones is having at the plate. Forget JJ Hardy is among the elite SS defensively. Manny Machado looks the role at 3rd, Reynolds playing one hell of a first base. Wieters, rock solid behind the plate. Sure, the Orioles have had some flukes, every team does. Lew Ford, McClouth, Chavez, Teagarden getting big hits. Well, frankly, that is what winning teams do in a season this long. They get production from unlikely sources. Does this all make sense, hell no! Are the Orioles a contender, hell yes. The pretenders have been exposed by now. End of story.

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  2. MikeS says:

    Sounds like a team ripe for a correction next year.

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    • Jjmann says:

      Im sick of the fantasy baseball pencil neck baseball anylists complaining about a team that steps up to challenges and does what it takes to win. Get out of your computer room and go to a game, orioles or otherwise and realize its played by human beings who can believe in what they can do, and not listen to numbers. This is old school baseball. This is what america fell in love with before steriods and computers and million dollar contracts. They may not be there next year, but they believe this year and thats why they win.

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  3. Greg says:

    Its really nice to have your team winning. It’s just going to be a real tough year for you next year Joe when your team comes back down to earth. As an M’s fan I rejoice in you unexpected Joy, as surreal as it is.

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  4. Corey says:

    This brings joy to my heart. Also, far as a stat in the leader-boards that tells us the Orioles are a good team, have you tried “games won”?

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  5. Zach says:

    This is hilarious. There is no such thing as winning a game you shouldn’t have won. If you win the game, obviously you should have won it. Sorry, but run differential and WAR don’t determine what makes a team good. Wins do. So, if run differential and WAR are saying that the O’s should have won only 55 games, then clearly we need to adjust our view of their infallibility. There’s a reason we play the games. Brian Matusz having a good game is allowed, sorry. The O’s hitting 5 home runs is allowed, sorry. The O’s winning all these games and kicking Boston and LAA’s ass is allowed, sorry.

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  6. Tim says:

    are baltimore’s fans unable to see that this is just a commentary on how little stats mean in the real world? and that we can fine-tune them all we want and they still really don’t matter? nobody has a vendetta against the o’s because nobody cares about the o’s

    also, i would tell the o’s fans to act like they’ve been here before, but…

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    • Amie says:

      I think it’s a lot less that we are unable to see how little stats mean, as it’s just annoying to see yet another article about the Orioles and how they “should” be bad, because of stats.

      As for your witty comments about us not being here before, or no one caring about the O’s, you’re obviously wrong. I think that’s being proven. Furthermore, if you followed baseball you would know that while the O’s have been out of contention for awhile, they certain have well worn territory in playoff hunts, and post-season play.

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      • Shaumtell says:

        Oh yeah, then how come Baltimore is 23rd in the league in attendance?

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        • Logic says:

          We haven’t had a winning season for 15 years.

          That’s an entire generation of fans lost.

          The Phillies didn’t break the top 10 in attendance until after their World Series win.

          Attendance for Roger Clemens 20 strikeout game (Red Sox went to the WS that year) – 13,414

          Why? They hadn’t finished better than 3rd in seven seasons.

          It takes sustained success to bring fans back to the stands.

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    • Andy says:

      Brooks, Frank, Boog, Earl, Palmer, Flanagan, Cuellar, McNally, McGregor, Martinez, Blair, Bumbry, Murray, Ripken, ’66, ’69, ’70, ’71, ’79, ’83.

      Just a quick history refresher for you, Tim. The Orioles and their fans have been here before. It’s been a long time, but there remains a proud baseball tradition in Baltimore.

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  7. Zach says:

    All I take issue with is the claim that the O’s win games that they are not supposed to win, which is logically nonsensical.

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  8. Ed says:

    Interesting that this post goes up after Fangraphs methodology has been totally dumped (mid-season, I might add) from the SI power rankings. Also, I would suspect that the reason why people are having trouble differentiating sarcasm for serious is because the two are blurred throughout this post…

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    • Well-Beered Englishman says:

      I was waiting for someone to comment on the SI disappearance. Apparently we were confusing too many people.

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  9. Lost says:

    As an orioles fan it was clear to me from the first sentence that this was a satirical piece. I’m loving this season beyond belief, and the fact that the stats say we should suck only makes it better. Its the once in 20 years kind of season where the unfounded faith of an otherwise hopeless fan is generously rewarded.

    While its clear through the record in one run games etc that there has been some x-factor involved in all this, there are also some legitimate explanations. The bullpen has been a rock all year, they’ve hit a bunch of home runs and the offense has been consistent, meaning they win practically any time their starter gives them a chance to.

    Additionally, the roster has been turned over so frequently that the defense has gone from a liability to a strength with the additions of machado, mcclouth and reynolds at first. Finally, the starters who were giving up tons of runs early on have been replaced with guys who are getting it done consistently. The real luck factor lies in the fact that guys like chen and gonzalez have been brought in from nowhere to carry our staff and tillman and hammel seem to have turned their careers around.

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    • Reynolds is a positive? I guess his switch from a more valuable position to 1st is a benefit, but he’s still bad. And Manny Machado is doing very well, in SSS, I see a very bright future for him.

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      • Anonymous says:

        The defensive metrics might not like him, but he has passed the eye test at 1B this year. In fact, I find it really strange that he has a team-worst -0.6 UZR over the last seven games, after watching his outstanding work in the Yankee series.

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  10. GiveEmTheBird says:

    The O’s either get killed because the starter gave up 10 runs in the 1st or they win becuase the starter held the runs down so it was a tie when the bullpen came on and shut the other team down – then its just a matter of how many innings does it take for the Os to score a run (hence all the overtime and one-run wins). This makes the averages look horrible, but gives an explanation to the unexpected wins when assessing them from the averages.

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  11. MLB says:

    The O’s ar 58-0 when ahead after 7, 47-19 when we score first, 24-7 in one-run games, have a closer leading the majors in Saves, are flawless defensively since the ASG, and have beat the crap out of Boston, New York, Tampa, Toronto, Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City, Cleveland, Minnesota, Oakland and Seattle. Texas is better right now, but we’re gaining on them. Anaheim has to make the playoffs to worry me. I like our chances.

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    • Say Wut says:

      A 6-6 season split, 3-3 split since ASG, with Rays having +10 run differential and the most lop sided victory in the season series (10-1) == O’s beating the crap out of Tampa (Bay)? #someonewrongontheinternet

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  12. Al says:

    Real Life:
    A win by 10 runs=1 win.
    WAR:
    A win by 10 runs=1 win + more math.

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  13. kidTerrif says:

    Clearly satire is lost on fans of a team deep in the midst of a decades-long dry spell.

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