March 11, 2014

The Orioles and OBP

The Colonel and I are going to try to preview teams, players, whatever in essay form until the season starts. I bet this only lasts for a couple of posts. Today the Colonel with an essay on the Baltimore Orioles.

I find the Baltimore Orioles fascinating. Now you ask yourself, yeah they're interesting they have finished with a winning record the past two seasons and have made one trip to the playoffs what's your point? My point is the Orioles have achieved those winning records despite their allergic reaction to getting on base.

The Orioles are horrible at getting on base but are great at scoring runs. That doesn't seem possible. Don't you need to get on base to score runs? Not the Baltimore Orioles. Check out this graph. (This is their projected lineup via Yahoo)(Data via Fangraphs)

Name  OBP AVG  HR Runs
Davis .362.28653138
Wieters .287 2259
Cruz .327 .2662749
Machado .314.2831488
Hardy .306.2632566
Schoop .333.28615
Jones .318.28633100
Markakis .329.2711089
Reimold .250.195517

See why the Orioles are fascinating? Despite having one player who has an above average OBP the Orioles score a ton of runs. In fact they were in the top 5 of runs scored and they hit more home runs than any other team. And that's what makes them dangerous and fascinating. 

They're dangerous obviously to opposing teams pitchers. They take advantage of the tiny AL East ballparks and destroy balls. This also makes them dangerous to themselves. 

The Orioles didn't rely on a high BABIP to score runs like the Cardinals last year but they do rely too much on the home run. Sometimes you need that leadoff walk plus a home run or double in an inning to win those 3-1 games. The Orioles lost quite a few of those close ballgame last season. 

Does this mean the Orioles will be bad this year? There's mass data on almost all of their players that suggest that their OBP's will be the same this year so will they end up in third place again with a winning record? Not necessarily. While the Orioles can score a ton of runs, their pitching last season gave up almost as many. Look at their results from last season. They played a lot of 8-9, 10-9 games last season. You're going to lose a few of those if your pitchers are giving up as many runs as you're scoring. 

And that's the main issue with the Orioles. Their pitching is much more a problem than their hitting. They're scoring runs despite low OBPs because they can hit home runs. That shouldn't change. What they need to worry about and change is their pitchers FIPs. The Orioles somewhat solved this problem by signing Ubaldo Jimenez but they still have four other projected starting pitchers who had FIPs over .380 last season

The Orioles will be fascinating this season because time will tell if they can still compete with low OBPs. And they still have time to make a run at another pitcher like Ervin Santana. But time will tell if their low OBP offense can keep up with their high FIP pitching staff. 

1 comment:

  1. The thing also fascinating by the Orioles is that players like Wieters and Jones appear to be good players. They hit home runs! Are they good players though despite their OBPs? I guess it depends on your definition of what makes a good player.

    I saw Brian Kenny not even rank Wieters as a top 10 catcher because of his low OBP. It's hard to ignore the home runs he hits though the production he does bring to the plate. So like I said, it all depends on what you consider makes a good baseball player.