24 April 2012

All or Nothing: Oriole Long Balls

The Orioles are sitting here today, 16 games into the season, with a 9-7 record (still above .500 - w00!). They have hit 23 home runs already (lead by Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, and Nolan Reimold with 5 each), which is the third most in the majors (behind the Yankees' 27 and the Rangers' 26) and puts them on pace for 230 on the season. Despite the power display, the O's have scored just 68 runs - their 4.25 runs per game is barely above the Major League average, and a quarter of a run below the AL average. That is, well, not so great.

The Birds have scored just under 3* runs per home run they've hit. That is not only lower than average (not surprisingly), but easily the worst in baseball - the Yankees would need to have their next 6 runs all come on solo home runs to pass the O's. They've gone deep 18 times in their 9 wins (scoring 5.4 runs per game), and only 5 times in their 7 losses (and never more than once a game, 2.7 runs on average).

* Last year the teams who "got the least" out of their homers were the Braves and... the Orioles (3.71 R/HR).

Obviously teams win more when they score more, and home runs should lead to more runs overall, but the gist of it is the offense is home run dependent, and when they don't go deep there are some struggles. With runners in scoring position, the team has just a .682 OPS (with only 3 home runs in 128 PA) - compared to .732 in general (and teams tend to hit better than normal with RISP) - and they've done a poor job of turning base-runners into points on the scoreboard.

Overall, the Orioles are hitting .244/.301/.430 - that's a bit below average (95 wRC+). And that line is partially carried by the home runs, which means that if other things don't pick up as the team's power drops off - a 15% home run to flyball ratio is not going to be sustainable (no team has maintained that for a full season since the '05 Reds) - the offensive production could be a bit ugly. So far this season they haven't walked much (6.5% walk rate is 4th worst in baseball), have struck out a fair bit (22.1% K rate is 2nd worst), and have a slightly below BABIP (.281).

It still very early. The offense is likely to improve, and has a good chance of being above average on the season. As long as things continue on as they've been going though, it'll be a bit of a schizophrenic* team to watch - one day they'll hit 3 homers and win 6-4, and the next they'll be kept in the yard and lose 4-1.

* Commonly incorrect usage noted.

1 comment:

Bret said...

They are extremely lucky to be 9-7 given that Reynolds, Betemit, Hardy, Nick Johnson, Markakis have all been below replacement level so far. Wieters and Reimold and Jones cannot continue the pace, especially Jones who has worse plate discipline than ever and is getting extremely lucky on balls in play and ISO. Team needs to be very careful about giving him big money. Very careful. Hopefully there will be a balancing effect on the left side of the infield especially otherwise bad things are on the horizon. Not sure on Reynolds though, he looks completely disinterested and unconcerned with going 0-4 with 4Ks every game.