23 May 2011

Predicted Wins and Playoff Probability: Week 8

The Orioles have been interchanging between good weeks and bad weeks.  This is reflected in the predicted wins displayed in the chart below.  The magnitude of the differences is getting smaller and smaller with each progressive week, but that could certainly change if several of the players get hot.  However, it remains unlikely this team is a playoff caliber squad.  In the remaining 117 games, the Orioles will need to win at a .615 clip to reach 93 total wins.  That should be good enough for the wild card or an outside chance for a low win total of a AL East champion.  The Depot has the probability at 0.17%.  PECOTA is much more optimistic at 2.6%.


Be sure to check us out on Twitter: @CamdenDepot or Facebook (be sure to friend us as we occaisionally hand out tickets we are unable to use).

Notable Post of the Last Week:
The Science of Baseball: May 22, 2011
Updated Composite Draft Board
Danny Hultzen Scouting Report

Game Wrap and Morning Links: May 23, 2011

Baltimore 2, Washington 1
Box Score / Play-By-Play / AP Recap

The Oriolescame through with a big win yesterday and managed to win the series.  The victory was highlighted with a timely home run by Vladimir Guerrero and Matt Wieters' shining defensive play.  Chris Tillman had another maddening start where he was able to keep the Nationals to one run over 97 pitches, but was only able to complete 5.  The bullpen followed with four scoreless innings.  It would have been all for naught if Vladimir Guerrero did not deposit his fifth home run of the season on a 0-2 count.  Guerrero has recently been on a tear that has made him one of the more potent pieces of the Orioles lineup, but that has rarely meant him hitting home runs (currently on pace to hit 19 home runs).  It was also impressive to see two strikeout and caught stealings in the same game.  Partiularly with the game ending with one of them.  I have always been impressed by Wieters defensive skill as I had projected him as an offensive catcher with a tolerable defensive skill set, but over the past two years he has really shined on defense.  He currently is one of the best catchers in the game.  It may not feel that way due to the wild expectations placed upon him, but it really is true.

Stat of the game

2-6

Wieters to JJ Hardy.  Need I write more.

Orioles Game ball

Matt Wieters (0-3, Caught two stealing)

MiLB game balls

Norfolk (Box) - Rick VandenHurk, RHP (8 IP, 4 H, 2 RA, 5 K, BB)
Bowie (Box) - Caleb Joseph, DH (1-2, 2B (4), 2 BB)
Frederick (Box) - Tyler Townsend, 1B (2-4, 2B (14), HR (8))
Delmarva (Box) - Mike Flacco, 1B (4-5, 2B (12), 3B (2))

Three Morning Links

MASN's Roch Kubatko interviews Buck about yesterday's win.  He talks about Matt Wieters, Vladimir Guerrero, and Chris Tillman.

Rich Dubroff of the Carroll County Times reports that Brian Matusz is likely to make one more rehab start before rejoining the Orioles.

The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Cowherd gives out more information on Brian Roberts troubling condition.

Up Next

De nada.

22 May 2011

The Science of Baseball: May 22, 2011

citation
I will be starting a new feature that seems unique based on what I have seen out in the internet and is something I may be more in tune with than most.  That would be a review of scientific literature about baseball.  Each Sunday night I plan to post on three recent journal articles that deal with baseball.  I have reviewed the literature in the past for this blog, but it has always been very much directed.  For example, a few weeks ago I wrote about hGH and how it is unlikely that it affects performance in baseball.  This column will be not be as focused on a single issue.  Here we go:

Fleisig et al. 2011. Risk of serious injury for young baseball pitchers: a 10 year prospective study. Am J Sport Med 39:253-257

The study focused on 481 youths aged between 9 and 14.  Injury incidence was simply defined as elbow/shoulder injuries and retirement due to injuries.  The study also looked at how throwing more than 100 innings a year, throwing curveballs at age 13, and spending three years at catcher affected injury rates.  They found that 5% of young pitchers will suffer a major arm injury within ten years and that this probability increases by 3.5x if the pitcher throws more than 100 innings per year.  I could not tell if 100 innings per year is causation or mere correlation.  I write this because very good young pitchers tend to pitch a lot into their high school years.  In such a situation, they will have more opportunity to be injured.  Additionally, the study suggests that young pitchers should not double as catchers.

Fry et al. 2011. Relationships between muscular strength and batting performances in collegiate baseball. J Strength Cond Res 25

Thirty one members of a Division I baseball team volunteered for this study.  Muscular strength was measured as grip strength, parallel barbell back squat, and incline bench press, and ball velocity off tee.  Performance metrics were batting average and slugging percentage. [If you cannot tell already, I would have completely overhauled this experimental design.]  The study concluded that motor coordination is certainly important, but that muscular strength is a factor in batting performance and they suggest all programs need a weight training component.  I do not think the study entirely shows that, but it is certainly an idea that would have been ground breaking back in 1975 when it is was thought that flexibility and thin lean muscle was ideal.  Nowadays . . . not so much.  I included this study to show that not all science being released in ground breaking.  A lot of it tries to substantiate common sense.

Kaplan et al. 2011. Comparison of shoulder range of motion, strength, and playing time in uninjured high school baseball pitchers who reside in warm- and cold-weather climates. Am J Sports Med 39:320-328.

In this study, the researchers were trying to determine whether there were physical differences between the shoulders of pitchers in warm weather climates when compared to cold weather climates.  The idea being that warm weather pitchers will pitch more and that this increased workload results in destabilizing the shoulder, which is thought to lead to arm injury.  50 pitchers were included from warm weather climates and another 50 were selected from cold weather climates.  None of these pitchers had a significant history of injury.  Rotational range and strength tests were conducted for each population and then the two groups were compared.  Cold weather pitchers had less of a range of motion in comparison to the warm weather pitchers.  They also had more external rotation strength.  It is generally considered a tighter shoulder (resulting in less range of motion) and a stronger shoulder results in fewer injuries.  It was also verified that these issues were related to playing time in a dose dependent manner (this means motion and strength are incrementally affected with time played).  This suggests that a healthy pitcher pitches less.  However, there is also considerable data suggesting that the number of repetitions correlates to future success.  As such, there needs to be a happy medium between being overworked and getting in enough experience.  There is probably no bright line criteria for determining what that level is as arms vary in their resiliency.

Draftees with Orioles Bloodlines

Citation
Thanks to the list Baseball America put together, we can see which 2011 draftees have Oriole relations.  As far as I can tell, it seems pretty extensive.

Siblings

Dylan Bundy, RHP Owasso HS (Bobby Bundy, RHP, Frederick)
Bundy will like go within the first five picks in the draft with an outside shot at being number one.  He is a rare high school pitcher who is thought to be on a two year fast track through the minors.  His stuff is that good.

Ryan Hornback, C San Jacinto JC (Riley Hornback, C, Delmarva)
Hornback was drafted last year round by the Tampa Bay Rays.  He has also signed a commitment to Ole Miss.  I do not know a thing about him.

Matt Snyder, 1B Mississippi (Brandon Snyder, 1B, Baltimore)
Snyder has shown good power and contact in Mississippi.  However, he is largely not considered to be a top five round pick.  My expectation is that he will fall somewhere between rounds seven to ten.

Next Generation

Brandon Lodge, RHP UCLA (Stepfather Bobby Grich, 2B, Baltimore)
Lodge is an eligible sophomore.  He has struggled two years in a row with his performance and I do not remember any of his outings.

Jesse Mesa, 2B College of Charleston (Father Jose Mesa, RHP, Baltimore)
Mesa has not shown good contact, on base skills, or power.  He might be a late round flyer or a showing of good will.

Patrick Palmeiro, UTL UAB (Father Rafael Palmiero, 1B, Baltimore)
Palmeiro shows power, but nothing else.

Lance Roenicke, OF UCSB (Uncle Gary Roenicke, OF, Baltimore)
Roenicke is playing collegiate ball and often that is good enough.

Shane Zeile, SS Valencia HS (Uncle Todd Zeile, 3B/DH, Baltimore)
UCLA committed Zeile has shown decent power.  However, I am not hearing his name mentioned.  He might be a later selection and may benefit from getting a few years of seasoning on the college stage.

Further Relation

DJ Gentile, DH Cal Poly (Cousin Jim Gentile, 1B Baltimore)
Designated Hitter Gentile is a DH who has no power or ability to get on base.

Game Wrap and Morning Links: May 22, 2011

Baltimore 8, Washington 3
Box Score / Play-By-Play / AP Recap

Jeremy Guthrie led the Orioles to victory yesterday.  As usual, Guthrie did not generate many  swing and misses (5), but racked up foul balls (28).  Although no one has completely nailed it down, he typically outperforms his xFIP due to hitters never completely squaring up on his pitches.  In comparison, Nationals' starter John Lannan had twelve foul balls.  Anyway, with a spent bullpen, Guthrie managed to go seven innings deep while giving up two unearned runs.  Two runs or less is something Guthrie has done in four previous starts this year and has had a 1-2 record in those games.  The offense helped even up that record with Nolan Reimold's two run homerun breaking the seal and the rest of the runs were delivered with strings of singles and doubles.  Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Vladimir Guerrero, Matt Wieters, and Brandon Snyder all registered multi-hit efforts.

Stat of the game

5-11

The Orioles managed to hit well with runners in scoring position.  If a team is not going to take many walks (one) or hit home runs (one), it has to bring them in with timely hitting.  The Orioles did that yesterday.

Orioles Game ball

Jeremy Guthrie (7 IP, 2 RA, 5 H, 4 K, 1 BB)

MiLB game balls

Norfolk (Box) - Josh Bell, 3B (3-4)
Bowie (Box) - Brian Matusz, LHP (6 IP, 3 H, 0 RA, 1 K, 1 BB)
Frederick (Box) - Bobby Bundy, RHP (8 IP, 3 H, 1 RA, 8 K, 0 BB)
Delmarva (Box) - Brendan Webb, RF (2-4, 1 HR (1))

Three Morning Links

MASN's Amber Theoharris reports that the Orioles attempted to sign Adam Jones to a long term contract last winter.  However, Jones thinks his true value has yet to be visualized and wished to wait longer to establish that and sign a better contract.

MAXPreps had a feature a little while ago on Cal Ripken Jr.'s son Ryan Ripken and his baseball accomplishments.  Doesn't the face on that picture look photoshopped?  Oh, shared heredity.

The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebeic catches up with Brian Roberts and his troubling issues with concussion-like symptoms.  He will unlikely be ready to play on Tuesday when he is eligible to come off the DL.

Up Next

Chris Tillman (4.56 xFIP, 74 ERA+) has given up only 1 run in his last two efforts, but they have both been merely above average efforts.  He needs to go longer than five or six innings and to do that he needs better command of his pitches and those pitches need to miss the bats.  In this rubber match, he will be facing off against Jordan Zimmermann (3.74 xFIP, 92 ERA+).

21 May 2011

Game Wrap and Morning Links: May 21, 2011

Don't forget today's 136th running of the Preakness
Baltimore 5, Washington 17
Box Score / Play-By-Play / AP Recap

The Orioles opened up their interleague play last night and Ryan Adams made his debut at second base.  He collected his first Major League hit, a single, and turned his first Major League double play.  The Orioles' offense also performed well by knocking out the Nationals' starter Jason Marquis after four innings.  Hmmmm . . . what else?  The rest of the game is somewhat forgettable.  Oh right . . . the Orioles pitching was outright crushed last night.  The Orioles and Nationals had the same ineffective starting pitchers, but the Nationals' pen shut the Orioles out.  The Orioles' pen gave up eleven runs, largely coming from five home runs, over 5.1 innings.  This has been a rough week on the Orioles' pen even though they had some time off.  I'm not sure why position players were not throwing from the mound some time this week.  There is little sense in wasting your pen in a lopsided game.

Stat of the game

209

The average team throws  around 145 pitches per game.  The Orioles threw 209, which means the Orioles threw enough extra pitches to cover about five extra innings.  This bullpen has been ineffective and overworked.

Orioles Game ball

Ryan Adams (1-4, first MLB hit)

MiLB game balls

Norfolk (Box) - Rhyne Hughes, 1B (3-5, 2B (8), HR (5))
Bowie (Box) - Xavier Avery, CF (2-2, 2 2B(7), 2 BB)
Frederick (Box) - Bobby Stevens, 2B-RF (1-3, HR (3), BB)
Delmarva (Box) - Kipp Schutz, LF (3-4, 3 2B (13), BB)

Three Morning Links

Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan wrote a piece noting how 2011 draft prospect and Bobby Bundy's little brother, Dylan Bundy, is asking teams not to draft him if they will interfere with his long tossing program.  Six hours later, Passan tweets that Bundy's adviser says not true.

Ex-Oriole Phil Bradley is helping Mizzou women's softball as an assistant coach.

MASN's Roch Kubatko writes that Jason Berken's next outing will be for the Norfolk Tides and troubled pitcher Alfredo Simon will be summoned for Saturday's game.

Up Next

Jeremy Guthrie (4.05 xFIP, 102 ERA+) finally gets back on the mound after a few days of rest from his impromptu relief performance.  He will face off against John Lannan (4.53 xFIP, 84 ERA+) and will try to even the series.

20 May 2011

Game Wrap and Morning Links: May 20, 2011

Baltimore 2, New York (A) 13
Box Score / Play-By-Play / AP Recap

The Orioles ran out their "B" team against Yankee's ace C.C. Sabathia, with expected results. The O's were held scoreless until the bottom of the 9th, as the Yankees cruised to 13-2 win and 2 game sweep of the Birds. Brad Bergesen did not spot any of his pitches, and the Bombers made him pay -- plating 8 runs on 5 hits and 3 walks in just 3.1 IP. Sabathia struck Nick Markakis in the back with a fastball, "evening the score" after two accidental HBP from Baltimore (Chris Dickerson on Wednesday and Robbie Cano last night). The O's and Yanks next meet in the Bronx for a three game set, July 29-31.

Stat of the game

0-6

Baltimore's record against New York so far in 2011. Enough said.

Orioles Game ball

Adam Jones (2-4, 2B (7))

MiLB game balls

Norfolk (Box) - Nolan Reimold, DH (2-4, RBI (22))
Bowie (Box) - Nick Bierbrodt, LHP (in relief, 4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO)
Frederick (Box) - Buck Britton, 3B (3-4, 2 2B (9))
Delmarva (Box) - Riley Hornback, C (1-3, 2B (1), BB)

Three Morning Links

Avi Zaleon and Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com examine the rotation shuffle after the Yankees series.

Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun tells us Ryan Adams and Nolan Reimold will replace Troy Patton and Chris Jakubauskas on the 25-man.

MASN's Roch Kubatko is a little saucy after the beanballs hurled by Yankee starters and carries over the snark to his look at the upcoming series with the Nats -- good stuff.

Up Next

Jake Arrieta (3.71 xFIP, 98 ERA+) will bring his big fastball and power breaker to the hill against Jason Marquis (3.53 xFIP, 107 ERA+) and the Natinals.

19 May 2011

Game Wrap and (Afternoon) Links: May 19, 2011

Baltimore 1, New York (A) 4
Box Score / Play-By-Play / AP Recap

Zach Britton wasn't particularly sharp, but he held the Yankees to one unearned run through seven innings. Unfortunately, Bartolo Colon was quite sharp, spotting his 2-seamer to both sides of the plate and keeping it down in the zone throughout eight innings, holding Baltimore scoreless. The O's finally broke through in the ninth, against future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera no less, sending the game to extra innings. Using the entire pen, Showalter was forced to insert Jeremy Guthrie in the 15th after Mike Gonzalez was surprisngly ejected for hitting Chris Dickerson in the head with an errant pitch. Perhaps he was tossed because the HBP happened to followd a Robbie Cano go-ahead double, but it seems clear from replays and context that Gonzalez simply missed badly with the Dickerson offering. It was another anemic night for the Baltimore offense, who standed 15 runners and went just 3-15 with runners in scoring position. Because Guthrie was used last night, Brad Bergesen will start opposite CC Sabathia tonight, with Matt Wieters scheduled to get the day off.

Stat(s) of the game

20.1

The number of consecutive innings rookie sensation Zach Britton has thrown without allowing an earned run. His .227 BABIP is freakishly low, even for an elite groundball pitcher, and may not be sustainable. But even with moderate correction he is throwing like a mid-rotation starter. If he can continue to have balls find the gloves of his teammates, he will remain in the Rookie of the Year running.

Orioles Game ball

Zach Britton (7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO)

MiLB game balls

Norfolk (Box) - Nolan Reimold, LF (2-4 HR (6))
Bowie (Box) - Greg Miclat, 2B (1-2, 2B (7), BB)
Frederick (Box) - Buck Britton, DH (2-5, HR (3))
Delmarva (Box) - Scott Copeland, RHP (8 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 SO)

Three Morning Links

MASN's Roch Kubatko reviews and comments upon Buck's post game press conference, including discussion of the Gonzalez ejection.

Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun says Caesar Izturis could be out up to 8 weeks following surgery on his right elbow.

Daniel Moroz of Camden Crazies thinks Zach Britton could be tabbed Baltimore's lone All-Star rep in July.

Up Next

Brad Bergesen (4.22 xFIP, 91 ERA+) pairs with battery mate Jake Fox to try for the split against C.C. Sabathia (3.47 xFIP, 115 ERA+).

18 May 2011

2011 Depot Draft Preview: Finding 1:4 (Danny Hultzen)

We continue our annual look at amateur talents the Baltimore Orioles could (should) be targeting in the 1st Round and beyond. Over the next two weeks we will bear down on the eight potential 1st Round targets listed below, followed by a week dedicated to the 2nd - 5th Rounds and finally the 6th - 10th Rounds. As a reminder, the draft coverage here will focus on Baltimore. More in-depth coverage, including rankings, scouting reports, videos and more can be found over at http://www.diamondscapescouting.com/.

Potential targets at 1:4

Anthony Rendon / 3b / Rice Univ.
Gerrit Cole / rhp / UCLA
Bubba Starling / of/rhp / Gardner Edgerton HS (Gardner, Kan.)
Sonny Gray / rhp / Vanderbilt Univ.
Danny Hultzen / lhp / Univ. of Virginia
Dylan Bundy / rhp / Owasso HS (Owasso, Okla.)
Taylor Jungmann / rhp / Univ. of Texas
Jed Bradley / lhp / Georgia Tech

*Every player discussed in the Depot Draft Preview has been scouted by Nick J. Faleris, either through his efforts at DiamondScape Scouting or as part of his duties as an Associate Scout in the Midwest Region for a National League organization.

Danny Hultzen (lhp, Univ. of Virginia)
Ht/Wt: 6-3/220
B/T: L/L
Year: Junior
Age at Draft: 21y6m
Games Scouted: 1 (in person); 8 (video)

Grades - Now (Future):
Motion: 50/55 (55)
Fastball: 55/60 (55/60)
Slider: 50 (55/60)
Change: 60/65 (65/70)
Control: 55/60 (60)
Command: 55 (60)
Feel: 55/50 (60)
Overall Future Potential: 58/60

*Notes on Grades: The Scouting Scale works from 20-80, with 50 being Major League Average. The scale operates loosely on a bell curve, so the further you move from 50 the fewer grades you'll find among ML players (e.g. Aroldis Chapman's fastball, Ichiro Suzuki's arm strength, Adam Dunn's power and Albert Pujols' hit tool would all be 80 grade). A 60 grade is sometimes referred to as plus and a 70 grade is sometimes referred to as plus-plus.

Physical Description:
Broad shoulders, broad hips, high waist. Handles long limbs well, solid body control. Lean, athletic build with sturdy trunk.

Motion:
Hultzen keeps a good pace and repeats his simple mechanics with ease. Throwing out of a low three-quarters arm slot and shielding the ball well, he creates good angle on his offerings and is difficult to pick-up and to square. He has a medium arm circle that he keeps well shielded (though he will at times hook and flash on the backside), and gives a late look at the ball as he is accelerating forward, helping the ball to really jump on hitters. He is a medium strider, but his long limbs help him to get solid extension and he stays out and over his plant leg well.

Stuff:
Fastball - 90-93 mph last year but generally dropping off into the 88-90 range by the late innings, Hultzen has maintained his velocity a little more consistently this spring. Additionally, he saw a bump in velo earlier in the season, touching 95 mph (some reported 96) in several starts. Because he took the summer off last year, and the velocity hasn't been a mainstay in his later season starts, there is some concern that he'll be closer to 90-92 once he's shouldering a pro workload. He spots the pitch well and gets a lot of swings-and-misses up in the zone after setting-up hitters with his secondaries down.

Change-up - Hultzen's change is regularly a plus offering right now, and perhaps the best off-speed pitch in the draft class. He throws 78-82 mph with arm slot deception with the pitch regularly boasting late fade and drop. He effectively runs the pitch outside to righties, with it serving as a "disappearing" off-speed and true swing-and-miss weapon. As noted above, it is also useful to set-up his average to above-average fastball.

Slider - The largest improvement this spring may have come in the consistency and command Hultzen has shown with his breaking ball. A fringy pitch last spring, it has been a solid average offering in 2011 and a useful third weapon, particularly as a backdoor pitch to righties and a bury pitch to lefties. There is minimal upside, as the pitch lacks ideal tilt, but it could end-up above-average with reps and continued improvement in implementation and execution. He was 79-82 last spring and has raised his velo a tick to 80-83, touching 84 mph on occasion.

Discussion:
Hultzen entered the spring as one of the higher probability arms with mid-rotation upside, and has grown that projection into a ceiling as a true #2 starter. He has roundly won over evaluators and gets glowing reviews from the national media outlets covering the draft. The UVA lefty has been tried, tested and proven repeatedly over his three year career in Charlottesville, showing growth in stuff each year, poise on the mound and improved durability. The concerns with Hultzen hang on his slider and his fastball velocity. Hultzen's motion creates a tough angle on hitters and produces a limited view of the ball before release, giving the illusion of pitches jumping on hitters. The draw back is that the angle and plane of his slider limit both the tilt on the pitch and the strike entry window at the plate. If more advanced hitters are able to identify the pitch early enough (a task admittedly made more difficult by the mechanics) the utility of the pitch may peak at "giving them a different look." Additionally, while the maintenance of low-90s fastball velocity into later innings is a big step forward, the peak velocity reaching 95/96 mph in the early spring may not be here to stay. As it is the frequency of the peak velos have dropped in recent starts, and Hultzen may have benefited early this year from his recharge after taking the summer off. Throwing on shorter rest through a longer season could, likewise, negatively affect his ability to climb up to the 95 mph range with consistency. His easy arm action negates some of these concerns, but they are worth keeping in mind. All in all, Hultzy is an advanced college arm with three legit ML pitches, including a potential fringe plus-plus change-up, and advanced pitchability and command. He is a safe pick with good ceiling if everything continues to click and should be off the board in the first ten picks.

Projected position: #2/#3 starter on tier one team
Suggested draft slot: Top ten overall

Video:









This scouting report originally published by the author here.

Game Wrap and Morning Links: May 18, 2011

Baltimore, Boston (ppd rain)
Box Score / Play-By-Play / AP Recap

The O's/Sox had the second and final game of their short series at Fenway postponed due to inclement weather. It has been announced that Zach Britton, scheduled to start last night in Boston, will get the nod tonight against the Yanks, with Jeremy Guthrie taking the mound on Thursday.

Stat(s) of the game

2

The number of Orioles expected to be placed on the disabled list prior to tonight's game. Derrek Lee and Caesar Izturis appear to be troubled by an oblique and nerve in the hand, respectively. Troy Patton (lhp, AAA Norfolk) and Brandon Snyder (1b, AAA Norfolk) are expected to replace them on the 25-man roster.

Orioles Game ball

Brandon Snyder (Call-up for the former top 10 organizational prospect)

MiLB game balls

Norfolk (Box) - Ryan Adams, 2B (3-5, 2B (10), RBI (8))
Bowie (Box) - Alfredo Simon, LHP (6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 SO, W (1))
Frederick (Box) - Rick Zagone, LHP (6 IP, 3 H 0 R, 4 BB, 2 SO, W (2))
Delmarva (Box) - Clayton Schrader, LHP (2 IP, O H, O R, 0 BB, 4 SO)

Three Morning Links

MASN's Roch Kubatko recaps Alfredo Simon's third start at AA Bowie.

Matt Vensil at the Baltimore Sun writes the legal troubles for the Dominican lefty are far from over, and Baltimore will have to make some related roster moves in the near future.

Orioles Hangout's Chris Stoner had some draft questions for MLB.com's prospect/draft writer Jonathan Mayo.

Up Next

Zach Britton (3.83 xFIP, 164 ERA+) pushes back a day and laces them up against the Yanks. He'll be opposed by Bartolo Colon (3.05 xFIP, 108 ERA+) and the second most productive offense in the American League (5.02 runs per game).

17 May 2011

2011 Depot Draft Preview - Finding 1:4 (Jed Bradley)

We continue our annual look at amateur talents the Baltimore Orioles could (should) be targeting in the 1st Round and beyond. Over the next two weeks we will bear down on the eight potential 1st Round targets listed below, followed by a week dedicated to the 2nd - 5th Rounds and finally the 6th - 10th Rounds. As a reminder, the draft coverage here will focus on Baltimore. More in-depth coverage, including rankings, scouting reports, videos and more can be found over at http://www.diamondscapescouting.com/.

Potential targets at 1:4

Anthony Rendon / 3b / Rice Univ.
Gerrit Cole / rhp / UCLA
Bubba Starling / of/rhp / Gardner Edgerton HS (Gardner, Kan.)
Sonny Gray / rhp / Vanderbilt Univ.
Danny Hultzen / lhp / Univ. of Virginia
Dylan Bundy / rhp / Owasso HS (Owasso, Okla.)
Taylor Jungmann / rhp / Univ. of Texas
Jed Bradley / lhp / Georgia Tech

*Every player discussed in the Depot Draft Preview has been scouted by Nick J. Faleris, either through his efforts at DiamondScape Scouting or as part of his duties as an Associate Scout in the Midwest Region for a National League organization.

Jed Bradley (lhp, Georgia Tech)
Ht/Wt: 6-4/224
B/T: L/L
Year: Junior
Age at Draft: 21y0m
Games Scouted: 1 (in person); 2 (video)

Grades - Now (Future):
Motion: 55/60 (60/65)
Fastball: 55/60 (60/65)
Slider: 45/50 (55/60)
Change: 50 (60)
Control: 50 (60)
Command: 45/50 (60)
Feel: 45/50 (60)
Overall Future Potential: 59/61

*Notes on Grades: The Scouting Scale works from 20-80, with 50 being Major League Average. The scale operates loosely on a bell curve, so the further you move from 50 the fewer grades you'll find among ML players (e.g. Aroldis Chapman's fastball, Ichiro Suzuki's arm strength, Adam Dunn's power and Albert Pujols' hit tool would all be 80 grade). A 60 grade is sometimes referred to as plus and a 70 grade is sometimes referred to as plus-plus.

Physical Description:
Wide frame, solid strength with room for more; could add inches, as well. Strength in legs/core with room for more. Very good body control, fields position well.

Motion:
Bradley has some of the cleanest mechanics of the top tier college arms in this draft class. Throwing out of a true three-quarters slot, Bradley has a free and easy arm action with good tempo. There is deception in his ability to shield the ball with his wide frame and clean, medium arm circle. There is solid drive in his strong lower-half and almost no recoil in his finish. The lone clean-up area might be the release in his secondaries -- while he hits the same arm slot with all three offerings he can lose his release point on the slider and change. Everything in his motion is so repeatable and effortless, however, this is an issue that should resolve upon pro instruction and reps.

Stuff:
Fastball - Bradley's most frequently used fastball is a 2-seamer with late boring action to the armside. He routinely sits 90-92 mph with an ability to push up to 94/95 mph with regularity. Additionally, he'll throw the 2-seamer with some cutting action, giving hitters another look and making it highly difficult to square the ball on the barrel even when the hitter can identify a fastball. At his best, he fills-up the strikezone with the pitch, and college hitters have had such trouble with it he can go through stints where he throws it almost exclusively.

Slider - Bradley's slide-piece is probably his third best offering right now, generally in the 79-81 mph range and capable of hard late sweeping action. Slapping a grade on the pitch is tricky, as it showed above-average, flashing plus, earlier in the season, but was decidedly fringy in his recent start at UIC. As noted above, he can coast at times off the strength of his fastball, which may have stunted the growth of his slider simply because he doesn't necessarily need to throw it much.

Change-up - As with the slider, Bradley is often in a position where he can break-out the 78-80 mph offspeed as a "show me" pitch while relying on the fastball to earn the outs. He turns over the change well, creating fade and dive on a trajectory reminiscent of his boring 2-seam fastball. It's an above-average pitch right now at its best, and could be a true plus offering as he learns to better implement it at the next level.

Discussion:
Bradley is one of the top arms in the draft class and offers a not-often-found combination of "now" production and projection. The lefty gives you a plus fastball two-ways, two potential above-average to plus secondaries, a simple and repeatable low-impact motion and some projection to boot. He has some of the less refined secondaries among the top tier arms, but should see a nice bump in stuff across the board once he gets into a pro system and is tasked with focusing on better executing the slider and change. He has yet to allow a homerun in 81.1 IP, and while his SO/BB ratio could be stronger he produced a highly impressive 44 strikeouts to just 6 walks last summer on the Cape. There's little to dislike, provided you believe in the motion and arm being too clean not to lead to some tightening up of the secondaries. He's an arm worthy of top 5 consideration and should certainly be in the mix for a number of teams drafting in the top 10.

Projected position: #2 starter on tier one team
Suggested draft slot: Top ten overall

Video:






This scouting report originally published by the author here.

2011 Depot Draft Preview - Finding 1:4 (Derek "Bubba" Starling)

We continue our annual look at amateur talents the Baltimore Orioles could (should) be targeting in the 1st Round and beyond. Over the next two weeks we will bear down on the eight potential 1st Round targets listed below, followed by a week dedicated to the 2nd - 5th Rounds and finally the 6th - 10th Rounds. As a reminder, the draft coverage here will focus on Baltimore. More in-depth coverage, including rankings, scouting reports, videos and more can be found over at http://www.diamondscapescouting.com/.

Potential targets at 1:4

Anthony Rendon / 3b / Rice Univ.
Gerrit Cole / rhp / UCLA
Bubba Starling / of/rhp / Gardner Edgerton HS (Gardner, Kan.)
Sonny Gray / rhp / Vanderbilt Univ.
Danny Hultzen / lhp / Univ. of Virginia
Dylan Bundy / rhp / Owasso HS (Owasso, Okla.)
Taylor Jungmann / rhp / Univ. of Texas
Jed Bradley / lhp / Georgia Tech

*Every player discussed in the Depot Draft Preview has been scouted by Nick J. Faleris, either through his efforts at DiamondScape Scouting or as part of his duties as an Associate Scout in the Midwest Region for a National League organization.

Derek "Bubba" Starling (of, Gardner Edgerton HS, Gardner, Kan.)
Ht/Wt: 6-4/185
B/T: R/R
Year: Senior
Age at Draft: 18y10m
Games Scouted: 5 (in person); 2 (video)

Grades - Now (Future):
Hit: 25/30 (55/60)
Power: 30 (55/60)
Arm: 55/60 (60/65)
Defense: 40 (60/65)
Speed: 70/75 (65/70)
Feel: 40 (60)
Overall Future Potential: 60/61

*Notes on Grades: The Scouting Scale works from 20-80, with 50 being Major League Average. The scale operates loosely on a bell curve, so the further you move from 50 the fewer grades you'll find among ML players (e.g. Aroldis Chapman's fastball, Ichiro Suzuki's arm strength, Adam Dunn's power and Albert Pujols' hit tool would all be 80 grade). A 60 grade is sometimes referred to as plus and a 70 grade is sometimes referred to as plus-plus.

Physical Description:
Strong, athletic build. Broad shoulders tapered to medium hips. Strong core with medium high waist. Elite athlete with body control, speed, agility and acceleration all well above average. Frame has potential to house a fair amount of additional strength.

Defense:
Starling is a work-in-progress in the outfield, still tentative in his first step and raw in his lines. At the same time, he closes on balls in the air very well and shows an impressive ability to track, even if his initial lines create some extra ground to cover. The arm-strength is evident and should ultimately play as plus in-game. Right now, he cuts his arm circle short and throws too often from the ear, limiting his carry and on occasion his accuracy. Starling could profile in center or right field, with his ultimate size and range being the likely determinant.

Bat:
The most surprising aspect of Starling's game is how effective he is at getting the barrel of the bat to the ball, considering the limited amount of time he has spent on the diamond compared to his contemporaries. Belying his "raw" label, hard contact was the norm in Long Beach during the Area Code Games, including a deep drive to pull and an opposite field rocket hit just shy of the track out in right-center (following Tilson's homerun). The hand/eye coordination and bat speed will give him a chance to hit for average, and as he cleans-up his load and weight transfer some he could grow into legit plus power. It is a true "sky is the limit" offensive profile that could be developed quickly once the Kansas prepster is focused on baseball.

On the Mound:
Starling spent time last summer on the mound, showing promise with low-90s velocity and solid spin on a 12/6 curveball, all in spite of unrefined mechanics and little formal coaching on the pitching side. He neglected to pursue pitching this spring and is at this point should be considered an outfielder, exclusively. The same, he showed enough foundation and feel on the hill that a drafting organization can feel more than comfortable that should the worst happen, developmentally, on the offensive side for Starling, he has a nice potential fallback as an arm.

Discussion:
Starling has the potential to develop into a truly elite talent in every respect. He is the class' best athlete, and while he has not devoted his attention to baseball yet he is far from an "athlete first"-type of player. The most encouraging aspect of his performance last summer was not the jaw-dropping SPARQ testing, impressive in-game displays, or even the mature approach considering his experience. Rather, what sets Starling apart is the strides he was able to make between June and August, and the ferocity with which he was able to devour instruction, digest it and apply it to his game. His swing, still in need of fine-tuning at the Area Code Games, was cleaner than it showed at the Tournament of Stars a little over a month earlier -- particularly in his weight transfer. He circled the ball better in the outfield and showed more confidence in his actions at the plate after logging dozens of plate appearances throughout the summer months against the country's (and in some cases, the world's) top high school/18U talent. There is, of course, risk in committing a large sum of money to a high school player with unrefined skills. If ever there is a time to do it, however, it's when you come across an unrefined talent that displays elite athleticism, a knack for picking-up instruction and the competitive drive to push until he masters something -- that's exactly what you have in Bubba. For organizations adept at molding young talent, Starling is as promising a ball of clay as you are going to find.

Projected position: Above-average to elite center/right fielder on 1st division team
Suggested draft slot: Top 10 overall

Video:































































This scouting report originally published by the author here.

Game Wrap and Morning Links: May 17, 2011

Baltimore 7, Boston 8
Box Score / Play-By-Play / AP Recap

Chris Tillman was not crisp, but he got the job done through five innings and exited with a 6-0 lead. That lead evaporated at the hands of the Orioles pen, with six different arms throwing and only Koji Uehara and Clay Rapada neglecting to allow a run. Closer Kevin Gregg managed to record one out in the ninth before issuing back-to-back walks to Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia and giving up a walk-off double to the red hot Adrian Gonzalez. It was an ugly loss on a night where Baltimore seemed all but assured of a third straight victory over a divisional rival and a .500 record through 40 games. Instead, the Birds drop to 19-21 and fall to 4.5 games out of 1st and 1.5 games out of 2nd, 3rd and 4th.

Stat(s) of the game

$22 million; $32 million

That's the amount of guaranteed money and potential money (including escalators and vesting options) that Andy MacPhail and the Baltimore front office has invested in closers Mike Gonzalez and Kevin Gregg. Through about 1.5 of their cumulative contracted four years (entering tonight's game), the two have been worth a total of .8 wins according to baseball-reference.com, or approximately $3.6 million. Now, let's all remember that Baltimore also gave up a second round pick for the privilege of inking MGon. It's a good thing the organization isn't throwing money away in Latin America -- it's clearly much more wisely invested domestically.

Orioles Game ball

Vlad Guerrero (3-5, 2 2B (9))

MiLB game balls

Norfolk (Box) - Brendan Harris, SS (2-4, 2B (8), 3B (1), 2 RBI (13))
Bowie (No Game) - N/A
Frederick (Box) - Buck Britton, SS/2B (2-4, 2 RBI (24))
Delmarva (Box) - Tyler Kelly, 3B (2-4, 2B (3))

Three Morning Links - Draft Edition

MASN's Roch Kubatko reports that Chris Tillman left last night's start with some tightness in his back.

Yesterday our links led to a story profiling potential draft target Owasso (Okla.) HS right-handed pitcher Dylan Bundy. Today, Jim Callis of Baseball America tells us that Bundy's supposed asking price is astronomical.

Orioles Hangout's Adam Vencill contributes to the Baltimore Sun staff report on Brian Matusz's return to A-Adv. Frederick for his first rehab start.

Up Next

Baltimore's young lefty RoY candidate Zach Britton (3.83 xFIP, 164 ERA+) takes the hill with a chance to salvage a two-game split. The Red Sox counter with the ageless Tim Wakefield (5.12 xFIP, 77 ERA+) who will make his 443rd career start and his 36th against the O's.

16 May 2011

Predicted Wins and Playoff Probability: Week 7

The Orioles are quite the streaky team this year.  The last week has seen the Orioles sweep the Mariners in a three game set and going two and one against the Rays.  All three projection systems are still in line with each other, which is quite impressive to me.  Eventually, I expect a shift to occur.  I do not use the same system as PECOTA or runs given/earned.






Remember when thinking about playoffs, we are talking about somewhere around 92 wins.  The Orioles are currently far off that pace.  PECOTA puts the Orioles as having a 5% chance of hitting that.  My system has them at 1.3%.

2011 First Round Talents in MLB Draft: Composite Rankings (May 14, 2011)

I had meant to send this out a few days ago, but the Blogspot issues prevented that and I then just forgot.  Remembering now to do so, here is the updated composite rankings of the top 33 prospects in this year's draft.  I am showing 33 prospects because that is how many selections are in the first round this year.  These rankings are composites from three well respected sources: Baseball America, ESPN's Keith Law, and DiamondScape Scouting's Nick Faleris (who also writes for Camden Depot).  Baseball America's contribution comes from their mid-season evaluations on April 12th.  Keith Law's was published on May 4th.  Nick Faleris' was from May 12th.  The bar represents the average ranking with the whisker illustrating the standard deviation.  I have been asked instead to do a median with two whiskers showing the highest and lowest ranking for each player.  However, I am averse to doing that because as far as I know, some of the rankings are proprietary and a reasonably inquisitive mind could figure out who ranked who where.
There seems to be growing speculation that Anthony Rendon, Garrit Cole, and Danny Hultzen will be the first three taken in some order.  The wild card of those three to drop would be Cole.  That would be the ideal situation for the Orioles.  In that scenario, Rendon would go first with the Mariners going after a bat and the Diamondbacks taking Hultzen.  I doubt that happens.  Assuming those three do go first, it has been said that the Orioles are looking for college pitchers of which there are many.  Jed Bradley and Trevor Bauer are the names mentioned most with Dylan Bundy, Bobby Bundy's brother, as the dark horse.  I would personally prefer Sonny Gray or Bubba Starling.

Game Wrap and Morning Links: May 16, 2011

Baltimore 9, Tampa 3
Box Score / Play-By-Play / AP Recap

Jake Arrieta came out and dealt again, leading the Orioles to a 9-3 win over the division-leading Rays and earning a 2-1 series win on the road. The second year starter went six strong allowing two runs on four hits and three walks, while strikign out seven. Pegged as a back-end starter by a number of national "prospectors", Arrieta is doing his best to show he still has a shot to be a legit #3 off the strength of his fastball, breaking balls and improving control. J.J. Hardy delivered the knockout blow in the sixth inning, taking a Cesar Ramos offering and depositing it into the left field stands. Matt Wieters had a day, throwing out the only would-be base stealer (ho hum) while going 3-4 at the plate with a walk. Nick Markakis, Vlad Guerrero and Brian Roberts also chipped in with multi-hit games.

Stat(s) of the game

9-3; .325/.386/.550

That is the Orioles record with J.J. Hardy in the line-up, and Hardy's triple-slash over his first 45 PA. Obviously it's way too early to draw any conclusions, but suffice it to say things look a little brighter than they did in 2010 when the shortstops in Baltimore combined for a triple-slash of .236/.277/.272.

Orioles Game ball

Jake Arrieta (6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 7 SO, W (5))

MiLB game balls

Norfolk (Box) - Brendan Harris, SS (1-4, 2 RBI (11), GW RBI)
Bowie (Box) - Caleb Joseph, DH (1-3, BB)
Frederick (Box) - Bobby Bundy, RHP (6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 SO, W (4))
Delmarva (Box) - Mychal Givens (2-5, 2 2B (4))

Three Morning Links - Draft Edition

Roch Kubatko talks Brian Matusz's rehab start in Frederick tonight and the effect his return might have on the Baltimore rotation.

Bill Haisten of Tulsa World takes a look at Dylan Bundy (rhp, Owasso HS, Owasso, Okla.), potential 1st Rd draft target in June and brother of O's standout prospect Bobby Bundy (rhp, A-Adv. Frederick).

Early AL RoY candidates Zach Britton (lhp, Baltimore) and Michael Pineda (rhp, Seattle) are "emerging stars", writes MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince.

Up Next

Chris Tillman (4.48 xFIP, 65 ERA+) will attempt to maintain the momentum in the series opener against Daisuke Matsuzaka (5.12 xFIP, 89 ERA+) and the Boston Red Sox. Start time 7:10 Eastern at Fenway Park.

15 May 2011

Game Wrap and Morning Links: May 15, 2011

Baltimore 6, Tampa 0
Box Score / Play-By-Play / AP Recap

Baltimore climbed back in the win column off the strength of Brad Bergesen's best start of the year. Bergie went the distance, using just 105 pitches and facing just five over the minimum while shutting-out the divisional leaders. His two-seamer was at its best, and the Rays hitters struggled all day to square-up the pitch. Offensively, the O's got all they needed in the first when Vlad Guerrero doubled home Derek Lee with two outs. Adding some cushion in the mid-innings were Jake Fox and Mark Reynolds, who found the left and right field stands, respectively, prompting me to immediately switch to the weather channel to confirm my suspicions. In all seriousness, it was an enjoyable game and the Birds put together nine solid innings of baseball.

Stat of the game

23.1%

That's Adam Jones's linedrive percentage through the first two weeks of May. He was 2-4 in Saturday's action, including a walk and his sixth double of the year, raising his triple-slash line to .285/.331/.453 on the year.

Orioles Game ball

Bradley Bergesen (9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 SO, W (1))

MiLB game balls

Norfolk (Box) - Ryan Adams, 2b (1-3, 2B (9), 2 BB)
Bowie (Box) - Ronnie Welty, RF (2-4, HR (7))
Frederick (Box) - Tyler Kolodny, DH (1-4, 2B (9))
Delmarva (Box) - Jonathan Schoop (2-4, 3B (3), HR (5))

Three Morning Links - Draft Edition

DiamondScape Scouting thinks Baltimore should take Dylan Bundy (Owasso HS, Owasso, Okla.) in the first round of next month's draft.

Baseball America projects Jed Bradley (rhp, Georgia Tech) to be Baltimore's pick at 1:4.

Keith Law weighs-in, claiming Trevor Bauer (rhp, UCLA) lands with the Birds (ESPN Insider content).

Up Next

Jake Arrieta (3.81 xFIP, 96 ERA+) takes the hill for Baltimore in the rubber match against Tampa and Andy Sonnanstine (5.06 xFIP, 132 ERA+).

14 May 2011

2011 Depot Draft Preview - Finding 1:4 (Gerrit Cole)

We continue our annual look at amateur talents the Baltimore Orioles could (should) be targeting in the 1st Round and beyond. Over the next two weeks we will bear down on the eight potential 1st Round targets listed below, followed by a week dedicated to the 2nd - 5th Rounds and finally the 6th - 10th Rounds. As a reminder, the draft coverage here will focus on Baltimore. More in-depth coverage, including rankings, scouting reports, videos and more can be found over at http://www.diamondscapescouting.com/.

Potential targets at 1:4

Anthony Rendon / 3b / Rice Univ.
Gerrit Cole / rhp / UCLA
Bubba Starling / of/rhp / Gardner Edgerton HS (Gardner, Kan.)
Sonny Gray / rhp / Vanderbilt Univ.
Danny Hultzen / lhp / Univ. of Virginia
Dylan Bundy / rhp / Owasso HS (Owasso, Okla.)
Taylor Jungmann / rhp / Univ. of Texas
Jed Bradley / lhp / Georgia Tech

*Every player discussed in the Depot Draft Preview has been scouted by Nick J. Faleris, either through his efforts at DiamondScape Scouting or as part of his duties as an Associate Scout in the Midwest Region for a National League organization.

Gerrit Cole (rhp, Univ. of California - Los Angeles)
Ht/Wt: 6-4/225
B/T: R/R
Year: Junior
Age at Draft: 20y9m
Games Scouted: 2 (in person); 6 (video)

Grades - Now (Future):
Motion: 50 (50)
Fastball: 65/70 (75/80)
Slider: 55/60 (70)
Cutter: 50 (60)
Change-up: 55/60 (65/70)
Control: 50 (60)
Command: 45/50 (55/60)
Feel: 45/50 (60)
Overall Future Potential: 62/63

*Notes on Grades: The Scouting Scale works from 20-80, with 50 being Major League Average. The scale operates loosely on a bell curve, so the further you move from 50 the fewer grades you'll find among ML players (e.g. Aroldis Chapman's fastball, Ichiro Suzuki's arm strength, Adam Dunn's power and Albert Pujols' hit tool would all be 80 grade). A 60 grade is sometimes referred to as plus and a 70 grade is sometimes referred to as plus-plus.

Physical Description:
Big, thick and strong throughout. Well proportioned build and distribution allows for solid body control. Moves well enough on and off the mound.

Motion:
Cole has a simple, repeatable delivery with a clean arm action and solid tempo throughout. He throws from a low three-quarters slot that suits his repertoire, and while there is effort (there is bound to be when sitting mid- to upper-90s with your fastball), it works with his motion, minimizing stress in the shoulder/arm during his forward action and softening his recoil. Just as important, Cole is able to maintain solid command and repeatability in spite of reaching back and letting it fly. As compared to his freshman year, Cole has all but removed his tendencies to dip his back shoulder as he enters his arm circle and is much more consistently out and over his front leg as his arm is accelerating towards home -- both adjustments playing a role in his improved command.

Stuff:
Fastball - True "80" offering, with upper-90s velocity at peak, life and ability to maintain to the late innings. Swing and miss pitch off pure stuff alone, but precision has improved through two-plus years at UCLA and with Team USA. Will sit 94-96 mph and bump 98/99 mph. 4-seam and 2-seam are mixed, with his 2-seam coming with excellent boring action and sitting 93-95 mph and his 4-seam 96-98.

Slider - Cole's slider is a swing-and-miss breaker generally in the 86-88 mph range. He hits the same slot and release as his fastball, giving him deception in pitch plane.

Cutter - The cutter essentially acts as a harder slider, showing tighter, later break but less depth. He is 88-89 with the offering, and has broken 90 mph without losing the late life. This pitch bleeds into his slider and could probably be folded into it at the next level.

Change-up - Cole has made big strides with his change-up, flashing plus this spring. The biggest advancement has been in his ability to maintain his arm speed, which now offers solid deception. Additionally, with the improved arm speed has come a little more late tumble and a whole bunch of empty swings from opposing hitters.

Discussion:
Cole has everything you want in a potential ace -- big, durable build, loud stuff that includes three plus or better pitches, an aggressive but under control demeanor on the mound and a desire and ability to attack hitters with his arsenal. While he has not racked-up the strikeouts this spring to the staggering extent of his rotation mate Trevor Bauer, Cole has shown legit ML "power stuff", better overall command in the zone and a less troubling, cleaner delivery. The Friday starter should be in the discussion for #1 overall, and is still the top arm in the draft two plus months in. Coming out of high school there were some make-up concerns floating around, as well as mechanics to clean-up, consistency issues with his secondaries and spotty control. He has addressed each and every one of these issues and has put himself in a position to follow in the footsteps of David Price (Tampa Bay Rays) and Stephen Strasburg (Washington Nationals) as a quick-to-rise Major League front-end starter.

Projected position: #1 starter on 1st division team; perennial all-star candidate
Suggested draft slot: Top five overall

Video:









This scouting report originally published by the author here.

12 May 2011

Game Wrap and Morning Links: May 12, 2011

Baltimore 4, Seattle 2
Box Score / Play-By-Play / AP Recap

Last night had carried a sense of dread as the game began.  The Orioles were facing on the best starting pitchers in baseball in Felix Hernandez and the Mariners had been hot of late.  The realistic hope was that the Orioles would be able to last out Felix and get lucky of a errant pitch home run or two.  Instead, we were treated to a shaky outing by Felix where his pitches fell out of the zone a bit too much and his command was uncharacteristically off.  The Orioles waited him out and wound up getting good pitches to hit and those batted balls falling in.  On the Orioles' side, there was concern of former Mariner farmhand Chris Tillman throwing too many pitches and getting knocked out early.  Tuesday had been a rough night on the Orioles' pen and they needed to be saved as much as possible.  Tillman answered that with a good effort by going six inning while putting up a poor, but not horrific 112 pitches.  The other major note of the game was former Mariner Adam Jones being en fuego.  He saw only eight pitches last night, but he hit them for a hard triple and three solid singles.  He certainly has streaks like this when it seems like he can cover the whole plate on any kind of pitch.  If he can keep that up, we can think of him more as a superstar instead of being an average centerfielder, which also has a lot of worth.

Stat of the game

 
6 innings

After a draining night on the pen yesterday, Chris Tillman was needed to go as deep as possible.  Tillman brought out 112 pitches over 6 innings.  This was not exceptional, but was needed.

Orioles Game ball

Adam Jones (4-4, 3B(1))

MiLB game balls

Norfolk (Box) - Blake Davis, PH (1-1, HR (2))
Bowie (Box) - Pedro Florimon Jr., SS (2-4, HR (3))
Frederick (Box) - Tyler Townsend, 1B (1-3, HR (7), BB)
Delmarva (Box) - Kipp Schutz (3-4).

Three Morning Links

Contracts have now been approved allowing for further renovation of the Orioles' Ed Smith Sports Complex.

Camden Crazies' Daniel Moroz reports from a conversation with an Orioles front office employee that the O's are not fully involved in international markets because the numbers do not work out.  The rest of baseball scratches its head.

Roch Kubatko reports that Brian Matusz threw 40 pitches in extended spring training as part of his rehab assignment..

Up Next

Zach Britton (3.97 xFIP, 136 ERA+) will try to lay in the sweep against the Seattle Mariners and Jason Vargas (3.96 xFIP, 80 ERA+).

11 May 2011

Are All Divisions Created Equal? Team WAR (2002-2010)

Many a fan, particularly in Baltimore, has uttered the words: if only we played in another division.  Without a doubt, the AL East is a difficult division to play in.  The Yankees and Red Sox have considerable resources that help them sign top talent in the offseason and gives them enough of a margin of error to absorb bad contracts.  The Rays are saddled with severe cash restrictions, but their front office finds remarkable ways to remain competitive.  Finally, the Blue Jays are a club that always appears to be underrated.  It is tough to be an Oriole fan at times with all of these successful teams to play against with an unbalanced schedule.  This leaves many wondering what would it be like if the Orioles were to play in a different division and makes me want to try to quantify it.

This is not exactly an original idea.  It has been addressed before by Stacey Long over at Camden Chat.  They decided to use the Orioles' winning percentage in each division to determine how the team would perform with various unbalanced schedules.  In that article, Long found that the Orioles' record in 2009 would have improved by four games had they played in an easier division.  I think that is solid work, but I wonder if the number of games the Orioles play against other teams in the other divisions is robust enough.  Daniel Moroz of Camden Crazies wrote over at Beyond the Box Score a short piece trying to determine what the difference playing between divisions would be.  Moroz used an elegantly simple set of assumptions (e.g., typical wins by AL East teams, an 81 win average for AL teams, interleague play winning percentages) along with Bill James' log5 calculations.  He found that unbalanced schedules could cause changes of a win.  That is not much to be concerned about.  So, two solid articles with two different conclusions.

This well tread idea needs, perhaps, another way to address it.  I propose that WAR (Wins Above Replacement) could be used to determine how many games a team could win by shifting divisions.  You may have noted in the past that if you sum up all of the WAR of individuals on a single team, you wind up with a number that is anywhere from 35-55 wins less than the actual total wins that the ball club earned.  This makes sense as a replacement level team (roughly defined as a team composed of AAA players) would be able to win a game here or there.  WAR actually relates rather well to actual wins.  The graph below illustrates how WAR relates to actual wins for AL teams from 2002 to 2010.

click on image to make larger


The trend line shows a good fit between wins and WAR with an R-squared of 0.81.  The y-intercept (where the line crosses the y axis (the vertical one)) is the number of wins that would be expected to be won by a replacement level team.  As this can be done with all of these data points from 2002 to 2010, we can also do something similar for teams in each division for each year.  With fewer data points, the correlation will not be as strong, but using replacement level performance as a base line for each division would provide a different way to measure how a team would perform in a different division. The following graph illustrates Replacement Level Wins (essentially Average Wins minus Average WAR) for each division.

click on image to make larger

The graph above passes a general smell test for me.  My perception has been that the AL East is the toughest division to play in because there is a concentration of talent of both young players (Tampa Bay Rays) and free agents (New York Yankees).  It has also been my perception that this concentration of talent has been challenged at times, which is also indicated in the graph above.  What I find interesting is that over this stretch of time, a replacement level team shifting from the AL East to the AL Central or AL West would improve by one and three wins, respectively.  If you translate that into free agent money (4.5 MM for every win), you could say that it costs 4.5 MM less to compete in the AL Central or 13.5 MM less to compete in the AL West.

Again assuming that the replacement level is additive, we can determine how well the Orioles would perform in "weakest" AL Division each year over the past nine years.


Comparing our results to what Long and Moroz found, we see in general that our numbers fit in more with Long's in the idea that shifting divisions would cause a decent sized shift in the number of wins.  When we specifically unravel Long's predictions for the Orioles in the AL Central from 2002 to 2009, we do not see a strong match between our efforts.  Years in which I show little difference between the AL East and AL Central (e.g. 2005), she shows a difference.  In my opinion, I think this is largely a product of there may not being enough games played when using one team's winning percentages to determine division strength.  What is certainly known by all of these efforts is that simply moving the Orioles to another AL division is not a cure for what ails them.

In the near future, I will be using this approach to address the addition of a fifth team in each league's playoffs and will try to determine how good that team would be in comparison to the current field.

Game Wrap and Morning Links: May 11, 2011

Baltimore 7, Seattle 6

Box Score / Play-By-Play / AP Recap

Last night was a long and wild night.  Kevin Gregg blew a save on a night when the Orioles offense was more productive than usual.  The bullpen was forced to go deep into a game without a 13th man, which forced Jeremy Accardo into 43 pitches over two innings and seemingly giving up the winning run in the 13th.  Felix Pie and Matt Wieters then came through with runners on base (did we ever doubt Wieters in that position) to plate two men and the Orioles break their losing streak.  Although it was tough on our relief corp and Chris "I might be able to give you six innings" Tillman is starting today, it was good to notch one in the win column.  It was also good to see JJ Hardy out-Andino Robert Andino with a 4-5 performance highlighted with a home run.  It is nice to have him back.  Hopefully, he will do more of the same against King Felix tonight.

Stat of the game

 
8-21

The Orioles were 8 for 21 with runners in scoring position.  This is a change from the previous week.

Orioles Game ball

JJ Hardy (4-5, HR(1), BB)

MiLB game balls

Norfolk (Box) - Brandon Snyder, 1B (2-3, 2B (9), BB)
Bowie (Box) - Robert Widlansky, 1B (2-4, HR (3))
Frederick (Box) - Brian Ward, C (2-4, HR (3))
Delmarva (Box) - Mike Flacco (1-2, 2 BB).

Three Morning Links

Matt Wieters looks good in Matt Klaassen's catcher defense ratings for 2011 over at Beyond the Box Score.

Orioles legendary coach Earl Weaver is selling some of his memorabilia because he would hate to misappropriate items in his will.

Troubled pitcher Alfredo Simon will be making two more starts before going back to the Dominican Republic due to his legal problems.

Up Next

The O's hope to make it two in a row with a tired pen and Chris Tillman (4.36 xFIP, 56 ERA+) on the mound against stalwart King Felix Hernandez (2.90 xFIP, 123 ERA+).  Looks like one of the teams pens tonight will be getting some rest. 7:35 pm Eastern start.