- NotGraphs Baseball - http://www.fangraphs.com/not -

I Cannot Use This Website to Explain the Baltimore Orioles


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.