Tuesday, July 21, 2009

For the Orioles, the Numbers Tell the Story

Well after last night’s flameout at the hands of Yankees pitching (and perhaps a bit more evidence as to why George Sherrill may be more valuable than we thought with Jim Johnson not quite there yet), I thought back to a familiar adage that has grown this season about the Orioles’ habit of scoring in bunches one game and then going completely cold in the next game. Is this complaint legitimate? Do the Orioles suffer from such massive inconsistencies that one can’t predict whether they will actually score a decent number of runs? Baseball is all about numbers, so I decided to take a look at the numbers. You may be surprised at the results.

The Orioles have scored 10 or more runs 10 times so far this season, and in those games they are 10-0, as one might expect. However, in the games immediately following these offensive explosions, the Orioles score an average of 4.5 runs, and are 5-5 in those contests. Being as the average runs scored by the O’s in a game this season is about 5 runs per game, this is a slight dip but not enough for anyone to claim a massive amount of inconsistency. True, the Orioles have been shut out 6 times this season and failed to score more than 2 runs another 18 times. The problem to me is in missed opportunities.

The Orioles have solid offensive numbers in terms of hits and even on base percentage, but fail to put enough runners across when compared to other teams. Baltimore actually has the 6th highest team average in the American League, though it ranks behind all AL East teams except for the Red Sox, who aren’t that far behind. What should probably be of more concern to Baltimore fans is the lack of home runs and the inability to translate that average into runs scored, where the O’s rank near the bottom of the league and in the middle of the league, respectively. The latter can be attributed largely to poor base running and (yes, I am going to go there) bad calls by the umpires, who seem to believe that a tie goes to the team higher in the standings instead of the runner. The bat aren’t going cold necessarily, but they are certainly timid with runners in scoring position or on the base paths.

The pitching is terrible, yesterday’s performance aside. The 4.93 team ERA ranks only above Cleveland in the American League, and the rotation ERA is abysmal itself. However, we have been over this ad nauseam and it would do little good to rehash the pitching woes of this team. The fact of the matter is that while the Baby Birds can hit, they can’t score- and they aren’t exactly stopping people either.

However, the law of averages says this team is doing about as well as it should. My last calculation was of the Pythagorean Win-Loss formula, using the total runs scored and runs allowed to calculate what Baltimore’s winning percentage should be given those values. I won’t bore you with the math, but the result? The O’s should be winning 45.2% of their games, or roughly 42 games at this point in the season. They are currently 41-51. This tells me that for every time the Orioles score big, they give it right back even bigger. In baseball, stats are everything. While there are some indications that this team could (or probably should) be scoring more, this team is about where they should be right now. Losses like the one last night are maddening to put up with, but from a macro level it unfortunately makes all too much sense.

1 comment:

Windsor said...

Really good analysis! (though you can expect that from the fact I'm an engineer)

Regardless you do make a good point. However, I would expect this to turn around, particularly in light of the fact that Reimold should come back strong at some point and Adam Jones is bound to find his power stroke again. Come August this team should be scoring alot of runs, and next year it should get better as Wieters will *eventually* start hitting.