30 May 2011

Predicted Wins and Playoff Probability: Week 9

The Orioles were involved in two sweeps this past week.  They took the Royals to task during the weekday series finishing with a three wins.  However, things skid to a halt (including a rare dismantling of Zach Britton) in Oakland where they had three straight games taken from them.  In response, they have junked three-fifths of their rotation with Brad Bergesen and Chris Tillman being relegated to Norfolk where they will undoubtedly dominate AAA batters.  If they are not in the rotation, they are probably best served in the MLB bullpen.  I imagine their stay will be short.  Brian Matusz will be pitching for them on Wednesday.  It is assumed that Alfredo Simon will be given a shot at the five slot in the rotation.  I should have made sure you were sitting for that.

Anyway, the projection models are hovering around the 78 and 79 wins with the changes becoming less significant as you can see in the graph at the end of this post.  The team will need to finish 69-42 to get to 93 game won and a likely playoff berth.

Here are also a few links from the past week that might be of interest:

Nick's summary of potential Baltimore Oriole targets in the first round.
The latest thoughts of mine for wishing to do away with collisions on the base paths.
A post on some less discussed players of interest in the later rounds of this year's draft.

Dempsey's Army Presents: Last Week in Chats (May 23-29, 2011)

Monday afternoons Heath from Dempsey's Army will recount all things Baltimore Orioles from the previous week's chats.  It is a convenient way to learn what national writers think about specific issues that relate to the Orioles.

Where we distill all the week's baseball chats down to their Oriole essence...

Jim Callis, Baseball America

Jeff Sullivan (Belchertown MA):
Manny Machado, Francisco Lindor, and Addison Russell. How do you rank them?

Jim Callis:
That order works for me. Machado has the most offensive upside, Lindor is a better bet to stay at shortstop, and Russell is behind the other two guys.

Jack Moore, FanGraphs.com

12:28 Comment From Lou
Any interest in the Britton v Duffy matchup 2nite?

12:28 Jack Moore:
If I had MLB.TV that's probably the game I'd watch (and if the Brewers weren't
playing -- hooray, Narveson vs. Livan!)

Matt Klaasen, FanGraphs.com

12:14 Comment From B-Roke
Does Cal Ripken deserve to be in the HOF?

12:15 Matt Klaassen:
Ripken annoys me for some reason, but, uh, YES. YES. YES.

12:44 Comment From thebane
jake arietta, future #2? Possibly more??

12:44 Matt Klaassen:
He has that potential.

Keith Law, ESPN

Mike (DC)
Any chance Cole or Rendon slip to #4?

Klaw (4:12 PM)
Much more chance that Cole does than Rendon.

Robbie (SoCal)
Does the Buster Posey Incident possibly affect how the Orioles handle Matt
Wieters? There is a lot of value in elite hitting at the catcher's postion, but
the investment in those few catchers is becoming too big a risk.

Klaw (4:37 PM)
I think it gives some insight on why the Nats and Royals were willing to move
Harper and Myers.

Gene Mullett (Columbus, OH)
Ever read "Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor by Gabriel Garcia Marquez? More
importantly, what your favorite baseball book, for whatever reason (i.e. MLB
insight, well written, feel good story, etc...)?

Klaw (4:55 PM)
Have not. I don't read many baseball books, but the two I recommend most are
Lords of the Realm and Weaver on Strategy.

Jim Shonerd, Baseball America

James (New York City):
With so much attention on his younger brother Dylan, Bobby Bundy's strong 2011
has been largely overlooked by prospect watchers - thanks for putting him on the
hot sheet this week. How does Bobby rank among pitching prospects currently in
the minors? What does his ceiling appear to be?

Jim Shonerd:
Probably another mid-rotation type. He doesn't have any pitches that make your
jaw drop, but he's got a good mix.

Steve (Fairfax):
What's Johnathan Schoop's long term position? Independent of the fact that he
plays in the same system as Machado, can he be a shortstop in the big leagues?

Jim Shonerd:
Schoop isn't expected to be more than an average runner as his body fills out.
He might be able to reach the majors as a shortstop, but look for him to move to
a third base or an outfield corner eventually. He's also made five errors in 19
games playing shortstop in Machado's stead for Delmarva, though we can cut him
some slack for the rust factor.

Jayson Stark, ESPN

Lucas (MD)
If the O's continue to stay competitive in the East, would you trade Vlad, D
Lee, L Scott, and/ or Hardy at the deadline or try to make a run at ending the
strak of losing seasons?

Jayson Stark (1:10 PM)
I normally wouldn't advocate this. But I think it's important to this franchise
to make progress in the standings, and to create a climate where these young
pitchers grow in a competitive environment. So I'd listen on all those guys if I
were Andy MacPhail. But I wouldn't clean house if they were .500 or thereabouts.
Agree or disagree?

Rob (Baltimore)
I love the Orioles and Zach Britton, but I agree with you on Pineda, nasty,
nasty stuff. Makes me think they would be smart to hold onto Felix and him for

Jayson Stark (1:44 PM)
That's what they're thinking, too!

Lucas (MD)
Speaking of catchers, what are your thoughts on Weiters? Great defense, just
needs to bump up the offense.

Jayson Stark (2:00 PM)
Still a work in progress offensively. Probably never going to be the masher he
was sold to be. But really turning into a star defensively.

Memorial Day 2011

In recognition of Memorial Day, I'd like to reprint the prose on old Memorial Stadium.

As a Memorial to All
Who so Valiantly Fought
and Served in the World
Wars with Eternal
Gratitude to Those Who
Made the Supreme
Sacrifice to Preserve
Equality and Freedom
Throughout the World


Game Wrap and Morning Links: May 30, 2011

Oakland 6, Baltimore 4
Box Score / Play-By-Play / AP Recap

Zach Britton was due some regression, after a wonderful start to the season that has also included a fair amount of fortune considering the high number of baserunners he has stranded and relatively low number of bats he has missd. Yesterday, Britton caught too much of the plate way too often, and the balls ended up missing the gloves -- the result, a line of 5.2 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO and a three-run big fly off the bat of Josh Willingham to give Oakland the lead for good in the 5th.

J.J. Hardy doubled in the 2nd inning, breaking a 19-inning stretch during which no Oriole collected an extra-base hit. We touched on the O's offense in our last game wrap, so this time around we can leave it simply as, "I hope things get better...in a hurry."

One post-game note, the Orioles optioned Chris Tillman to AAA Norfolk, explaining the June schedule limits to utility of a #5 starter and the preference is for Tillman to continue getting regular work. I think it would have been useful to just shift Tillman to the pen and work him in regularly between the scattering of #5 starts over the next four weeks, but it's probably not an issue worth digging in on, one side or the other.

Stat of the game


The team WHIP for the O's arms yesterday afternoon. WHIP has a fair number of flaws when it comes to evaluating a performance, but I think we can all get behind the idea that it is tough to win if you average allowing two baserunners per inning.

Orioles Game ball

J.J. Hardy (2-4, 2B (6))

MiLB game balls

Norfolk (Box) - John Hester, C (2-5, 2 2B (4))
Bowie (Box - Game 1) - Seven Lerud, C (1-2, BB)
Bowie (Box - Game 2) - Tim Bascom, C (5.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO)
Frederick (Box) - Steven Bumbry, CF (2-4, 2B (8), BB)
Delmarva (Box) - Justin Dalles, C (1-3, 2B (4))

Three Morning Links

MASN's Roch Kubatko notes in his review of the demotion of Bergesen/Tillman that the open days in June allow Buck Showalter and Andy MacPhail to practice what they preach: "If you're not doing the job, we'll find someone else who will." My own side note -- if the O's powers-that-be think that Chris Jakubauskas, Jason Berken and Alfredo Simon are potential solutions, well...

A collection of some national media chat questions touching on all things Orioles, courtesy of Dempsey's Army.

Kevin Cowherd puts voice to something I've been thinking since early April -- fans/writers need to apologize for the Wieters-bashing.

Up Next

Jake Arrieta (116 ERA-, 109 FIP-, 3.91 xFIP), you're up. O's try to snap slide against Doug Fister (86 ERA-, 88 FIP-, 3.91 xFIP) and the M's.

29 May 2011

The Science of Baseball: May 29, 2011

Last week we begun with this weekly report highlighting three papers that were recently published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and whose focus is largely baseball.  Today we have an article on long toss, which may be of interest to you.  In an article whose truth has been disputed, top draft-eligible high school pitcher Dylan Bundy was allegedly informing teams that he insists on long toss.  Second is an article that looks at rotator cuff injuries and recovery from those injuries.  Finally, we range a little outside of science and bring attention to a dissertation paper on baseball thespians.

Biomechanical comparison of baseball pitching and long-toss: implications for training and rehabilitation.
Fleisig et al. 2011. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 41:296-303

As we know from the aforementioned Dylan Bundy story, long toss has been a highly contentious issue.  Proponents of long toss say that it helps strengthen the arm, increasing velocity and resilience against injury.  The stay the 120 ft or less rule of distance for pitchers' throwing is unfairly based off protocols for the rehabilitation of pitchers overcoming Tommy John surgery.  Those against long toss often state that it strengthens the arm in a way that is not useful to pitching and causes unneeded stress.  This study attempted to measure differences between pitching from a mound and long toss.

Seventeen college pitchers were recruited and told to throw from 60 ft (on a mound), 120 ft, and 180 ft throwing hard in a straight line.  They were then asked to throw maximum distance at any trajectory.  The group found that hard, horizontal, flat-ground throws resulted in similar biomechanics as throwing off a mound and could be useful in training and/or rehabilitation.  However, maximum distance throwing resulted in higher torques and changes in kinematics.  Roughly speaking, maximum distance throws do not show any indication, based on these measures, for helping a pitcher, but do show an increase in stress in the elbow.

Performance after rotator cuff tear and operative treatment: a case control study of Major League Baseball pitchers.
Namdari et al. 2011. J Ath Training 46:296-302.

Supposedly, little is known about how pitchers perform when coming back from surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff.  The study used press releases and medical reports to determine whom fit in which group.  They found that rotator cuff surgery did not hurt a player's ability to remain pitching in the Majors.  The attrition rate for both groups remained that, which was surprising.  I would have expected injured pitchers who have more difficulty staying in the majors than injury-free pitchers.  It was also noted that pitchers with shoulder injuries never regained their original performance levels and that the injured group of pitchers were originally better pitchers than the control group.  This begs the question of whether the control group was adequately selected.

From the ball fields to Broadway: performance identities of professional baseball players on the 19th and 20th century American stage.
Stern 2011. Dissertation. University of Illios Urbana-Champaign

Feel free to download this here.  The author assessed the theatrical careers of Cap Anson, Mike "King" Kelly, Christy Mathewson, and Ty Cobb.  In the days before television and radio, the stage was often how the game was replayed for interested fans.  Cap Anson's career on stage was one where he played a fictionalized version of himself and was an attempt to make the game more mainstream as opposed to the rough and tumble way it was viewed.  King Kelly's performances appeared to expand the player's identity beyond the diamond.  In a section on Mathewson, you can read up on an interesting concern about a woman owning a baseball team.  Finally, the Ty Cobb section is one that would be familiar to most of us, but is still a good, interesting read for those who are unaware.  To say the least, it is an interesting dissertation concerning the history of baseball.

Game Wrap and Morning Links: May 29, 2011

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

Brad Bergesen gave a back-of-the-rotation performance last night -- solid but unspectacular -- and the Orioles offense once again failed to manifest any meaningful offense. This was the 24th time in 50 games that the Orioles scored 3 or fewer runs, and they currently sit 10th in the AL in OPS+ (96, with 100 as league average), 11th in total runs scored (205, with 218 as league average), and 11th in slugging (.380, with .392 as league average). In a season where the Orioles need to figure out what they have in the future core staff (Matusz/Britton/Arrieta/Tillman/Bergsen) the offense needs to do a better job of providing support to these young arms.

Stat of the game


Once again the number of extra base hits Baltimore was able to muster. For those keeping score, that is now 18 straight innings without an extra bagger.

Orioles Game ball

Jim Johnson (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO); last 5 app. (7 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 SO)

MiLB game balls

Norfolk (Box) - Mitch Atkins, RHP (6.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 SO) Next stop, Baltimore!
Bowie (Box) - Ronnie Welty, RF (3-4, HR (8))
Frederick (Box) - Steven Bumbry, CF (2-4, 2B (7), BB)
Delmarva (Box) - Jonathan Schoop, SS/3B (2-4, HR (7))

Three Morning Links

Brad Bergesen has been optioned to AAA Norfolk, writes MASN's Roch Kubatko. He will be replaced by Pedrio Viola, who should in turn be replaced by Brian Matusz later this week.

Jeff Zrebiec of The Sun tells us Brian Matusz could make his first MLB start of the year on Wednesday, in the series finale against the Seattle Mariners.

Daniel Moroz at CamdenCrazies.com thinks perhaps Chris Tillman should be the rotation member on the outside looking in.

Up Next

Baltimore hopes Zach Britton (60 ERA-, 95 FIP-, 3.76 xFIP) can help them avoid a sweep at the hands of Guillermo Moscoso (0 ERA-, 90 FIP-, 5.30 xFIP) and the Athletics.

28 May 2011

Bench Players Should be Trained to Pitch

A couple nights ago Wilson Valdez pitched the Philadelphia Phillies to a victory.  It made me think of the Orioles who have had the opportunity to pitch under these circumstances.  I remember Earl Weaver championing his strategy of using position players during blowouts.  I found it to be a rather smart approach as it makes no sense to burn out your bullpen when the game is out of hand.  Instead, let backup position players pump fastball across the plate and let the game drag to an end. 

Elrod Hendricks
Upon researching past occaisions where an Orioles position player pitched in a game, it was not as bountiful in frequency that Weaver seemed to suggest in his book, "Weaver on Strategy." (Sidenote: Christina Kahrl, another Sweetspot-er, wrote an update epilogue in the reprint)  Anyway, here are all of the Oriole position players who have pitched in a game:
Elrod Hendricks, catcher (1978)
Larry Harlow, outfielder (1978)
Todd Cruz, shortstop/third baseman (1984)
Jeff Tackett, catcher (1993)
Manny Alexander, shortstop (1996)

Needless to say, Earl Weaver actually does not seem to utilize this strategy as he was responsible for only Hendricks and Harlow throwing innings.  I still think this is an underutilized strategy.

Burned out bullpens are something that managers hate.  Earlier this season Buck Showalter mentioned how he had to leave his pitchers in longer than he preferred because of a few blow outs that forced him to run through relief pitchers.  When the team was down by 10 runs or more at the end of a game, why fatigue a pitcher and prevent him from helping you tomorrow in a game that means soemthing?  I imagine the answer to be two-fold:
  1. position players are not trained to pitch and might be unable to throw a ball across the plate, and 
  2. a ten run loss is embarrassing, but a 20 run loss is more embarrassing.  20 run losses cause managers to lose their jobs.
It is easy to solve the first issue.  You simply have your fringe players at the MLB level and AAA throw bullpen sessions on the side.  You do not want your good players doing this because it is too risky one of them could suffer a strained ligament or blow out their shoulder.  For me, I would have some basic instruction give to these Orioles: Craig Tatum, Jake Fox, Matt Angle, Nolan Reimold, and maybe Ryan Adams or Robert Andino.  If one or two of these guys could learn to get the ball across the plate and maybe even mix in a poor secondary, you might be able to finish a game with a modicum of respect while preserving what is left of your bullpen.  These players, although useful, likely do not have a significant role in the Orioles' future.  The worst case scenario, a career-ending injury, is not something that would significantly hurt the Orioles.  A player may be willing to be able to be a mop-up player if it means a greater chance to be in the Majors.

Dealing with a 20 run loss?  I think the long view needs to be taken into consideration.  Teams should be more honest about their chances and do things more intelligently without regard to the final score.

Game Wrap and Morning Links: May 28, 2011

Oakland 6, Baltimore 2
Box Score / Play-By-Play / AP Recap

Baltimore had their winning* streak snapped in Oakland, as the A's pushed across three runs in the 6th to go ahead for good. Chris Tillman once again kept Baltimore in the game, but averaged just under 25 pitches per inning before being lifted in the fifth with one out. This season has been a mixed bag for Tillman, who has seen an overhaul in his mechanics that has lead to more consistency in his secondaries, but a drop-off in his fastball velocity. A polling of the die hard fans populating the message boards would likewise turn-up mixed feelings, with a number encouraged by his progress and plenty of others turned-off by the upper-80 velocity readings.

The takeaway for the fanbase has to be that prospect development is seldom linear -- particularly for a pitcher who pushed his way to the Majors just a couple months past his 21st birthday. Tillman is doing what every promising young arm needs to do: adjusting. The game that allowed him to carve-up A/AA/AAA hitters as a teen did not translate perfectly to the Major League level, and the young arm is making the tweaks he needs to make to tackle this next challenge. This season his curve is less recognizable out of the hand, and his change is finding more consistence in its fade and late tumble. It is a testament to the Orioles front office that they are finally giving Tillman the extended time he needs to tackle Major League hitters and work through his adjustments. The sooner Orioles fans understand and accept this process, the sooner they will, as a group, be able to better enjoy Tillman's starts (which have been some of my favorite to watch throughout the year).

Stat of the game


The number of extra base hits Baltimore was able to muster against five innings of less-than-stellar Gio Gonzalez and four innings of Oakland bullpen.

Orioles Game ball

Matt Wieters (2-4, triple-slash on the season now sits .272/.339/.404)

MiLB game balls

Norfolk (Box) - Brian Matusz, LHP (5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO) Next stop, Baltimore!
Bowie (Box) - Xavier Avery, CF (2-3); Last 10, 16-36, .444/.512/.667, 2 2B, 1 3B, 5 BB/3 SO
Frederick (Box Game 1) - Steven Bumbry, CF (2-3, 2B (9), HR (3), 2 BB)
Frederick (Box Game 2) - Clayton Schrader, RHP (2 IP, 1 BB, 2 SO); through 36 IP, 56 SO
Delmarva (Box) - DJ Fergusen, RHP (3 IP, 1 H, 3 SO, W (1))

Three Morning Links

Jim Callis at Baseball America has Baltimore selecting Dylan Bundy (rhp, Owasso HS, Owasso, Okla.) in his lastest mock draft (list only here; list with comments -- subscription required -- here).

Is Brian Matusz ready for his 2011 MLB debut? Jeff Zrebiec of The Sun weighs in.

Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com gets Matt Wieters's thoughts on the Posey injury and potential rule changes regarding home plate collisions, and touches on a potential Matusz return.

Up Next

Brad Bergesen (143 ERA-, 98 FIP-, 4.48 xFIP) will attempt to even the series against Josh Outman (35 ERA-, 96 FIP-, 5.57 xFIP).

* - the original article accidentally wrote that the losing streak was broken instead of the winning streak

27 May 2011

Vladimir Guerrero on Pace to be Below Average

The hot streak Vlad has been on took him from being a wreck to being below average.  Thirty percent into the season and Vladimir Guerrero is on pace to be a 1.6 WAR DH, which would be about below average for the performance we would expect from a DH.  At 0.4 WAR he is 19 out of 26 in DHs over the age of 36.  This puts him right behind 1990 Dwight Evans and right ahead of 1995 Paul Molitor.  If he sustains this pace, he looks to wind up being the 15th best DH within that population.

Game Wrap and Morning Links: May 27, 2011

Baltimore 6, Kansas City 5
Box Score / Play-By-Play / AP Recap

The Orioles swept the Royals and now find themselves at 24-24.  They have now escaped last place in the AL East, giving that honor to the 24-26 Toronto Blue Jays.  They are now three games off of first in a very tight division.  One thing that sets this team apart from the rest is run differential.  The Yankees (+51), Red Sox (+31), Rays (+21), and Jays (+5) all have positive run differentials.  The Orioles sit at -31 runs.  This is not a good sign for the future success of the team.  However, there are things to be delighted about today.  For one, Nolan Reimold finding himself for a game.

Stat of the game


Reimold's game wOBA.

Orioles Game ball

Nolan Reimold (4-4, 2B (1), 2 HR (3), BB)

MiLB game balls

Norfolk (Box) - Chris Jakubausus, SP (7 IP, 6H, 1 RA, 1 HR, 6 K, 1 BB)
Bowie (Box) - Steve Johnson, SP (6 IP, 5 H, 1 RA, 1 HR, 7 K)
Frederick (NA) - No gam
Delmarva (Box) - Jonathan Schoop, SS (1-3, HR (6), BB)

Three Morning Links

A government committee in Frederick recommended the Frederick Keys' proposal to stay at Harry Grove Stadium.  The city had been leveraging for a more expensive lease.  Another interesting item is that as I suggested a few months back, Kinston (who loses the Indians Hi A affiliate this year) has been eager to see the outcome of this process.  They would look to court the Orioles if anything fell through.

Austin Urban, a 27th round pick for the Orioles last year, is in the Junior College World Series.  It is widely expected that he will be drafted much higher this year.

Dixon Anderson is looking on Saturday to start for 23rd ranked Cal.  He was the Orioles' 6th round selection last year.  This is what we wrote about him last year.

Up Next

Baltimore starts its West Coast swing against the As.  Chris Tillman (126 ERA-, 86 FIP-, 4.61 xFIP) will try to keep the fire going against Gio Gonzalez (55 ERA-, 84 FIP-, 3.33 xFIP).  Tillman's flyball tendencies should be not as devastating at the Oakland Coliseum as it severely dampens home runs.

26 May 2011

The Merits of Bone Crunching Play

On-field collisions are a topic that I have great interest in.  Unfortunately, it had to take a promising young star, Buster Posey, to forcefully ask the question: should MLB allow intentional collisions?

My answer:
April 23, 2010 - Bobby Wilson (concussion)
June 8, 2010 - Gregg Zaun (shoulder)
August 1, 2010 - Carlos Santana (knee)
April 14, 2011 - Josh Hamilton (arm)
April 16, 2011 - Nyjer Morgan (leg)
May 25, 2011 - Buster Posey (leg)

These are the guys who I immediately remember from the past couple seasons.  This list is not comprehensive.  Even a listing that carefully scanned newspaper reports from the past year would likely miss all of the injuries caused by collisions.  Of particular note are the concussions suffered by runners and catchers from these events.  As we know from football, concussions are often hidden or not reported.  As we are beginning to learn from learn from football, these concussions can have long lasting damage well beyond the end of a career.  Further troubling for catchers are that they will sometimes suffer concussions by being hit by foul balls.  Simply put, an athlete running full speed into a stationary person is in no way safe and in the current state of the game, it is largely unavoidable.

Some would argue that catchers do not have to block the plate.  That it is their choice to do so.  I find this reasoning to be failing because blocking the plate is an industry practice.  All catchers block the plate.  If you want to be a catcher, you have to block the plate.  There is no way around it.  You have no choice.  Base runners are often given a choice.  A month ago, Felix Pie sprinted home on a passed ball.  Big-boned Joba Chamberlain blocked the plate before getting the ball and forced Pie to go around him.  A collision is not something the stringy Pie would have had much success with.  He chose not to force a collision and when he was called out, the fans gave it to him for not getting dirty.  Catchers have to protect the plate and are not blessed with an endless succession of Felix Pie's.

Is the game really better for having those collisions at home plate and these guys losing a week, a few months, a season, or a career?  Is baseball really more entertaining being without Josh Hamilton?  Is it more entertaining without Buster Posey?  These are the costs for allowing catchers to block home and permit runners to plough into them with basically no protective padding.  We should also suspect that dozens of concussions occur without any recognition and concussions are seriously dangerous.  I see nothing redeeming in keeping collisions.

Two things need to be done:
1. Catchers should not be allowed to block the plate.  Home plate should be no different than any other base.
2. All runners who intentionally try to injure a catcher need to be ejected immediately and given a month long suspension.

This needs to be implemented immediately.  It should have been put in place long ago.  Major League Baseball has a responsibility to those it employs to protect them within reason.  This is not equivalent to wrapping players in bubble wrap.  It directly addresses an issue that puts players in unneeded harm.  They have done this before.  Batters are required to wear helmets.  Base coaches are required to wear helmets.  Teams institute their own safety programs by including warning tracks and padded outfield fences.  It is difficult to find many industries that would permit tangential risks to its employees.  Yet, baseball continues to do so after several players serve as examples year in and year out.  This needs to stop. 

This perspective should reach beyond home plate.  For instance, when Nick Swisher slide wide and dropped Nishioka.  It was a clean play as the rules are enforced.  However, looking at the photo it is difficult to see how this is not a case of a runner given too much liberty in what constitutes as a base path.  This type of play should result in an automatic double play, Swisher getting ejected, and him being suspended for a month.  None of this improves baseball.  All it does is remove skilled players from the field.  It prevents us from watching good players play good baseball.

It is a shame.

And this can be corrected immediately.

Game Wrap and Morning Links: May 26, 2011

Baltimore 9, Kansas City 2
Box Score / Play-By-Play / AP Recap

The Royals had a nightmare in the fourth inning.  The Orioles were able to score eight runs in the fourth inning off four singles, three walks, two doubles, a wild pitch, and an error.  It is quite the accomplishment to be able to string together all of those events to score a lot of runs.  The Orioles now stand at 23-24, a half game from .500 and in last place in the AL East.  If they were in the AL West, they record would put them a game behind first place.  It certainly has been a strange year with the run environment and the tightness of the divisions.

Stat of the game


The number of runners the Orioles left on base.

Orioles Game ball

Adam Jones (2-4, 2B (10))

MiLB game balls

Norfolk (NA) - No Games Scheduled
Bowie (Box) - LJ Hoes, RF (2-4, 2B (2))
Frederick (Box) - Bobby Stevens (3-5, 2B (5))
Delmarva (Box) - Tim Berry (5 IP, 2 H, 1 RA, 6 K, 5 BB)

Three Morning Links

Yesterday, the Orioles had their pictures taken for the new animal rescue calendar.  Buck has four basset hounds.  Yes, I give you only the most pertinent news stories.

LJ Hoes gives an interview about his promotion to Bowie and him transitioning over to the outfield.  At the moment, it sounds like a need for his transitioning, but it might be that they have given up on making him a second baseman.  That would make it more difficult for him to be a regular.

After being let go by the Orioles as a batting practice pitcher due to needing an additional southpaw, Tom Vaeth taught himself to throw from both sides. He is now gainfully employed as a coach in Winnipeg.

Up Next

Baltimore will go for the sweep today before heading out for a West Coast swing.  Jeremy Guthrie (88 ERA-, 108 FIP-, 4.01 xFIP) takes the mound against reclamation project Jeff Francis (108 ERA-, 94 FIP-, 3.59 xFIP).

25 May 2011

Collegiate Diamonds by the Numbers: Big West, West Coast, Southern, and Colonial Athletic Association

Here are links to the first two columns:
Introduction and ACC
Pac10, Big 12, Conference USA, Big East

This post will roll through four different conferences as very few players met this criteria.  In this grouping the Big West and the West Coast failed to notch a player.  I want to remind you that I am using adjusted numbers from College Baseball Splits and not raw numbers.  This post will highlight players who match these criteria in the Southern Conference and the Colonial Athletic Association.

Plate Discipline - Walk Rate (>15%) and BB:K ratio (>1.50)
Contact Rate - Batting Average (>.300)
Power - ISO (>.180)

Southern Conference

Rob Kral, C/1B, College of Charleston
342/496/591; 23.4% walk rate, 2.46 BB:K, .249 ISO

Kral has been steady with the bat, but there has been a good deal of questioning about his ability to stay behind the plate.  He will likely have to be pushed to first or DH as a pro.  He was drafted last year in the 16th round by the Reds, but decided to return to up his stock.

Just Missed

Ross Heffley, 2B, Western Carolina
398/471/621; 12.1% walk rate, 1.53 BB:K, .223 ISO

Heffley has three things you look for in a batter: great contact rate, power, and decent plate discipline.  The only thing is the walk rate, but with a near .400 batting average . . . he did not have much opportunity to get a lot of walks.

Colonial Athletic Association

Just Missed

Rob Lind, 2B, Georgia State
323/465/547; 21.0% walk rate, 1.38 BB:K, .224 ISO

Another player who is not very high on many lists.  He pulls in walks and hits home runs, but he also swings and misses a bit too much to be caught by these criteria.

Mark Micowski, LF/CF, Georgia State
349/441/534; 14.1% walk rate, 1.81 BB:K, .185 ISO

Lind's teammate and fellow senior also makes the list.  His ISO is supported mainly by racking up doubles.

Passing Thoughts

The deeper we go into Division I conferences, the more I question how useful the criteria are.  Only Rob Kral made the grade, but the other three are certainly interesting to follow.

2011 Depot Draft Preview - Finding 1:4 (Summary)

We began our draft preview with in-depth looks (links below) at the eight players we consider the top targets for Baltimore at 1:4 (1st Round, 4th Pick):

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

Upon completing these reports Jon and I have set our preference list (list of targeted players in order of preference) as follows:

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

Based on this list, assuming Baltimore's pref list is similar to ours, and assuming that Rendon and Cole will both be off of the board by 1:4, the choice for the O's might come down to bonus demands. Both Starling and Bundy are believed to be asking for near record bonuses for a high school position player and pitcher, respectively. Conversely, Gray is not believed to be a particularly difficult sign (though that does not necessarily mean he is a "slot" signing). To provide a broader context, the difference in scouting grades between Starling and Hultzen is not significant and certainly close enough that factors outside of Overall Future Potential need to be taken into consideration. The long and short being that the Orioles will have a half-dozen solid options -- they just need to figure out which approach best suits their desired direction for this particular draft with this particular pool of players.

Those readers that have been with us for a year or more are aware of the fact that we run a "Shadow Draft", wherein we make a selection for Baltimore in each of their draft slots through the first ten rounds. In last year's Shadow Draft, Camden Depot's 1st Round selection was Karsten Whitson (rhp, Chipley HS (Fla.)), who subsequently passed on pro ball and joined the Univ. of Florida baseball squad, stepping right into their weekend rotation where he has had much success already. Per draft rules, our Shadow Team is afforded a compensation pick this year, so our 2011 Shadow Draft will include two 1st Round picks -- 1:4 and 1:5. We will otherwise be selecting in the same spot as the Orioles through the first ten rounds.

Up next in our draft preview we will take a look at targets for rounds two through ten. That will begin tomorrow afternoon with ten brief reports on position players to target for rounds two through five. Friday afternoon we'll look at ten pitchers to consider for those same rounds. Next week we will run the same exercise for rounds six through ten. We'll conclude our pre-draft coverage with a description of our suggested overarching draft strategy for this pool of players, and perhaps a chat if readers find the topic interesting enough.

Game Wrap and Morning Links: May 25, 2011

Baltimore 5, Kansas City 3
Box Score / Play-By-Play / AP Recap

Color me surprised.  Joakim Soria is one of the best closers in the game.  The Royals, for all their faults, were 14-1 in games in which they led after eight innings.  None of that matter when Adam Jones dropped a 0-2 pitch 409 feet and into the stands.  That shocking moment cap a night that was largely an underwhelming performance.  The Orioles' best pitcher had one of his worst games of the year and somehow he still eeked out a quality start from it.  The hitters were unable to do much damage to an erratic Danny Duffy.  It was not exactly the amazing matchup between heralded pitching prospects that I was expecting.  It was a comforting return for Alfredo Simon, who managed to pitch effectively and notch his first win.  Regardless, it ended quite well and that is all we can ask for.

Stat of the game


The Orioles record this season in games where they trail after eight innings.

Orioles Game ball

Adam Jones (2-5, 2B (9), HR (6))

MiLB game balls

Norfolk (Box) - Josh Bell, 3B (3-5, HR (7))
Bowie (Box) - LJ Hoes, RF (3-4)
Frederick (Box) - Miguel Abreu, CF (2-4, 2B (4))
Delmarva (NA) - No Games Scheduled

Three Morning Links

The team does not expect Brian Roberts to be able to play for at least three weeks.  He has been suffering concussion-like symptoms and has seen specialists.  He gave himself a concussion last year when he hit himself with a bat, but it is also likely he has suffered minor ones in collisions at second base.

MASN's Steve Melewski reports that Kipp Schutz has been promoted from Delmarva to Frederick.  He has batted near .400 for the Shorebirds.  He was part of the lackluster 2009 draft class that is slowly beginning to shimmer.

The Orioles old spring training facilities will likely be turned into a water park now.

Up Next

Jake Arrieta (121 ERA-, 110 FIP-, 3.95 xFIP) will try to keep things rolling as he faces off against the Royals Luke Hochevar (111 ERA-, 135 FIP-, 4.04 xFIP).

2011 Depot Draft Preview - Finding 1:4 (Taylor Jungmann)

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.

Taylor Jungmann (rhp, Univ. of Texas)
Ht/Wt: 6-6/220
B/T: R/R
Year: Junior
Age at Draft: 21y6m
Games Scouted: 1 (in person); 9 (video)

Grades - Now (Future):
Motion: 55 (55/60)
Fastball: 55/60 (60)
Curveball: 55/60 (60)
Change: 50 (55/60)
Control: 50/55 (55/60)
Command: 50/55 (55/60)
Feel: 55/60 (60/65)
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:
Long and loose with wide hips and shoulders. Handles body well, controls limbs and shows some athletic actions. Strong core, thickening quads through abs. Will add some upper-body strength as he finishes filling in.

Jungmann toes mid-rubber and ends to the far first base side with his balance leg as he enters his leg kick. His stride is to the inner-corner of the plate (to righties) and his release comes low-three-quarters across his body. Generally, the above description would lead to visions of a cross-body slinger with issues commanding the ball because of inconsistencies in release. This was partially true for Jungmann through last spring. The Texas ace has cleaned-up two aspects of his delivery in 2011 leading to improved command this year and much better consistency in his release, which in turn has improved the consistency of his secondaries. His stride last spring was more towards the righty batter's box, for one. He now strides more in line with the plate, though not directly at it, which has limited the extent to which he has to swing around his plant leg. Secondly, he has softened his landing, which in conjunction with the more direct stride has smoothed out the transition from kick to release. He is still able to create excellent angles with his long arms, but he is cleaner and more fluid in his actions. This allows him to stay low effort, with any recoil coming post release as he follows-through across his plant leg. Jungmann uses a medium stride, and while it might be tempting to try and extend it to get more drive (and velo) it works well with his arm action and cross-fire angle -- teams should probably be hesitant to tinker too much with something already so successful.

Fastball - Low- to mid-90s with his fastball, Jungmann gets some life on the pitch but really excels by keeping a tough plane to the plate. It's a difficult pitch for righties to square, and when he's working the inner-half of the plate it can be almost unhittable. He is supremely confident in the pitch and executes it well.

Curve - Jungmann's curve is a two-plane offering that was more accurately referred to as a power slurve entering the season. Since finding more consistency in his release with his softened mechanics it now has truer curve "shape", while maintaining the two-plane action. It has similar effectiveness to lefties as a back foot slider because of the angle and trajectory created by the low slot. He can work as low as 78 mph and as high as 82/83 mph with the pitch without losing command, shape or feel.

Change-up - Jungmann utilizes a more traditional change-up with some late drop and fade, getting arm slot and arm speed deception. He has also grown a once-gimmicky-now-filthy "screw" change, which he turns over with enough arm speed to give the offering near-breaking ball depth away from lefties. He tips the pitch sometimes -- particularly the "screw" variety -- but it is a third potential plus pitch with continued reps.

The word to describe Jungmann is "easy". The command, the velocity, the production all comes across as effortless. On the rare occasion where Jungmann runs into trouble, he is quick to shake it off and get back to business. He has also matured as a pitcher, showing an advanced approach and keeping his pitch counts relatively low while working deep into games on a regular basis. Jungmann hasn't received the fanfare of some of the other top arms in this draft, but his drafting organization is getting an advanced talent with the potential for three plus pitches and a long track record of success against some of the best collegiate talent around. He profiles as a front-end starter with a high floor.

Projected position: #1/#2 starter on tier one team
Suggested draft slot: Top ten overall


This scouting report originally published by the author here.

2011 Depot Draft Preview - Finding 1:4 (Dylan Bundy)

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.

Dylan Bundy (rhp, Owasso HS, Owasso, Okla.)
Ht/Wt: 6-1/200
B/T: B/R
Year: Senior
Age at Draft: 18y7m
Games Scouted: 0 (in person); 4 (video)

Grades - Now (Future):
Motion: 55 (60)
Fastball: 55/60 (65/70)
Curveball: 45/50 (60)
Change: 40 (55/60)
Cutter: 50/55 (60/65)
Control: 45/50 (60)
Command: 40/45 (55/60)
Feel: 45/50 (60)
Overall Future Potential: 58/62

*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:
Thick, sturdy build. Strength concentrated in thighs/butt, but well proportioned throughout. Athletic. Little projection.

Bundy generates his velocity and big spin on his breaking balls through a quick arm and explosive lower half. He gets quick drive out of his powerful legs and butt, rotating through with a strong core. Additionally, like Sonny Gray, Bundy uses a low ball drop to start his arm circle, which gives him extra time to accelerate the ball through release (think of a car accelerating in a straight line, measuring speed once at 200 ft and once at 300 ft). Bundy is strong and athletic, showing little trouble maintaining his mechanics and little effort past what you would expect out of an arm throwing in the mid-90s.

Fastball - The fastball is big and loud, clocking regularly in the mid-90s, with an ability to climb to 97/98 mph (and some reports that he hit triple-digits earlier this spring). He commands the pitch well to both sides and does a solid job working down in the zone. There is some question as to how easy it will be for Bundy to maintain the velocity on shorter rest over a longer season, but it's a potential plus-plus pitch.

Cutter - Bundy's cutter is an out pitch not, with borderline slider depth and late life. He snaps the pitch in the 86-88 mph range, allowing it to serve as a change-of-pace offering. It has developed into his most effective pitch, and could be plus or better at the next level.

Curve - Bundy's curve flashes plus right now. At its best it is a hard 12/6 breaker with good depth and hard snap. He can tighten the pitch with more use, giving it more consistent bite and shape. The foundation is here for a third plus or better bullet in his arsenal.

Change-up - Bundy used his change-up more last year, before his cutter took a big step forward. He has shown feel for it in the past, but will need to spend some time on it in order to bring it up to speed. He has shown enough to hang a future 50 on it, and perhaps better considering the Texas commit's overall feel for the craft.

Bundy has separated himself as the top right-handed high school arm in the draft, and is right there with Daniel Norris (Science Hill HS, Johnson City, Tenn.) as the top prep arms in the class. Bundy has more "now" stuff than Norris, and the overall ceiling is perhaps the best among all the draft-eligible arms. His advanced feel for three offerings and a chance for a forth pitch that is at least average, combined with steady and repeatable mechanics and a famous work ethic and training regimen give him a reasonably high floor for a prep pitcher. His size and past workload are two slight knocks, and while his spring numbers have been eye-popping they have come against uneven competition (as with many prep arms). Still, he has thrown so well this spring it's tough to envision him slipping outside of the top ten picks, or so, signing bonus demands not withstanding. He has an even demeanor on the mound, and is well equipped to tackle the challenges of transitioning to pro ball.

Projected position: #1/#2 starter on tier one team
Suggested draft slot: Top ten overall



This scouting report originally published by the author here.

2011 Depot Draft Preview - Finding 1:4 (Sonny Gray)

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.

Sonny Gray (rhp, Vanderbilt Univ.)
Ht/Wt: 5-11/180
B/T: R/R
Year: Junior
Age at Draft: 21y7m
Games Scouted: 1 (in person); 6 (video)

Grades - Now (Future):
Motion: 45/50 (50/55)
Fastball: 60/65 (65/70)
Curveball: 60/65 (65/70)
Change: 45 (55/60)
Slider: 45 (50/55)
Control: 45/50 (55/60)
Command: 45 (50/55)
Feel: 55 (60)
Overall Future Potential: 59/62

*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:
A bit undersized w/strong, athletic build. Strong upper-body, broad up top tapered to medium waist. Well put together, durable. Athletic actions.

Gray throws with some effort, falling off slightly to the first base side. He keeps a good pace with solid but sometimes inconsistent timing, utilizing an over-the-head wind-up and slight glove-raise entering his leg kick. At his best he gets into a rhythm where his hand break is fairly consistent. At times, he can speed up his motion just slightly, causing late hand break and forcing his arm to play catch-up. His medium arm circle comes with very good acceleration as he starts his drive home, and his release is generally consistent across his fastball and curve when he maintains his timing. The arm action is very easy, but there is explosive effort in his drive to home, resulting in some slight fall-off in his finish, and heavier fall-off when his timing is off. His arm angle is a true three-quarters slot and he maximizes his reach with a strong stride. Even with some effort, his head is fairly steady and he does a good job staying on target with his stride.

Fastball - Gray has big velocity, regularly sitting 94-96 mph and touching as high as 97/98 mph when he reaches back for it. There is good armside life on the pitch and when on he can fill-up the strikezone from black-to-black. Most impressive is his ability to hold that velocity deep into starts, and it isn't uncommon for him to hit his peak velocity for a start in the 7th or 8th inning.

Curve - Gray's curve is perhaps the best in the class, with hard downer action on the power bender. He is low- to mid-80s with the pitch and gets consistent shape and bite. It's a second potential plus-plus offering, along with his fastball, and is lethal as both a freeze pitch and as a bury pitch.

Change-up - Gray doesn't use his change-up much, but it flashes above average as a straight offering with some late dive. It's effectiveness is predicated upon arm speed deception, and while it may not be a true and consistent out pitch yet, the Vandy ace has shown some feel for it. He generally throws it mid-80s.

Slider - Gray has fooled around with a mid-80s slider, but it is still inconsistent and not often utilized. He has the general feel for his pitches that should allow him to grow it into an average or better pitch down the line, and he could even modify his grip and release at some point to go to more of a late-break cutter if it fits better in his arsenal.

Gray's sub-6-foot stature will turn off some, but he has shown through the last two springs as a starter and the last two summer with Team USA that he can maintain velocity late into starts and late into the summer. The durability is certainly there for Gray to start as a pro, and his arm strength is right there with the top arms in the draft class. Two potential issues related to his height are pitch trajectory and extension, as he doesn't get downhill as well as other top arms and his lesser reach gives an extra fraction of a second for hitters to pick up the ball. The former is addressed by the quality of his offerings, with the life on the fastball making it difficult to square, even on a flatter plane. His curve changes the hitter's eye-level, and once the change-up is more regularly incorporated pro hitters will have trouble sitting any one pitch. He negates the ill effects of shorter reach by showing good explosive extension in his stride and pumping plus to plus-plus velocity. Gray has one of the top three two-pitch combos in the class, and has an argument for the top fastball/breaking ball pairing. His size may drop him on some boards, but if he makes it out of the top five overall he'll provide incredible value to a lucky team. Probability is high, considering his fallback is as a potentially elite closer with two plus-plus pitches and long track record of big stuff and good production.

Projected position: #1/#2 starter on tier one team; shutdown closer fallback
Suggested draft slot: Top five overall


This scouting report originally published by the author here.

24 May 2011

Season Summary and Morning Links: May 24, 2011

No game last night.

Orioles Offensive Player of the Year (to date)

Matt Wieters, C
273/342/410; .334 wOBA; 1.3 fWAR

Wieters has come into his own this season with stunning play behind the plate and one of the better batting lines for a catch in either league.  Due to the massive hype following him prior to his rookie season, it will be difficult for him to emerge from his own shadow.  It is laughable that he was mentioned as a bust by some prior to this season.

Runner Up

Adam Jones, CF
289/337/440; .344 w OBA; 1.2 fWAR

Jones began the season in a prolonged slump, but he has exploded in the past month.  He still looks like a left fielder, but his play has looked more solid in center field this season.  It would not be surprising to see Jones pass by Matt Wieters when we reassess this at the All Star break.

Orioles Pitcher of the Year (to date)

Zach Britton, LHP
2.14 ERA; 3.74 xFIP; 55.6 GB%; 5.0 k/9, 2.9 bb/9; 1.0 fWAR

Britton was not supposed to be pitching in Baltimore until well into May or June, but a freak injury to Brian matusz changed that.  Britton has made the most of his opportunity and is challenging for consideration for MLB Rookie of the Year.

Runner Up

Chris Tillman, RHP
4.95 ERA; 4.61 xFIP; 37.7 GB%; 6.2 k/9, 3.5 bb/9; 0.9 fWAR

The numbers surprised me on this one.  I think it is largely of product of luck with only 2.9% of his fly balls leaving the yard.  Typically, that percentage should be around 10%, so that number should regress and Tillman's performances should regress as well.

MiLB game balls

Norfolk (Box) - Josh Bell, 3B (1-4, HR (6))
Bowie (Box) - Xavier Avery, CF (2-3, 2B (9), BB)
Frederick (Box) - Bobby Stevens, 2B (2-4, 2B (2), HR (4))
Delmarva (Box) - Jonathan Schoop, 3B (2-4, 2B (10))

Three Morning Links

Jim Pyburn passed away.  He was one of the first bonus babies signed by the Orioles.  He spent three seasons with the Orioles, but did not succeed.  He wound up being a solid assistant at UGA.

Mike Flacco was named SALLY player of the week.

Daniel Moroz of Camden Crazies tries to figure out what we can expect from the Orioles' most recent call ups.

Up Next

Kansas City comes to town and treats Baltimore to a battle of rookie pitchers.  The Orioles are putting up Zach Britton (55 ERA-, 91 FIP-, 3.74 xFIP) to face off against Danny Duffy(4 IP, 5.69 xFIP).  Be sure to watch this one.

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


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

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

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.


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


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+).