03 July 2017

The Orioles Offense Is Not Good

While the Orioles remain in the hunt for the both the AL East Division crown, and the wild card, the team has not inspired much confidence over the last two months. Yes, the pitching has been atrocious, as the staff went a record-tying 20 games allowing 5 earned runs or more (and we were all reminded of that on a fairly consistent basis). The pitching isn’t the only reason this team has played poorly, as the offense hasn’t been up to the task this season either.

A few weeks ago, Matt Kremnitzer pointed to a couple of position players in Baltimore who were having disappointing seasons. He specifically highlighted players such as Adam Jones, Manny Machado, Mark Trumbo, Chris Davis, and J.J. Hardy. And while those players have certainly been a disappointment, the numbers show that the entire Orioles offense in general is not good. Apologies for the “death by tables” aspect of this post, but I am going to blame it on the holiday weekend.

Baltimore 2017 Season Offensive Rankings

So as you can see the Orioles have an offense that doesn’t score many runs, doesn’t walk, strikes out a bunch, and hits for only average power. The power, which is what gave the team its offensive potency the last couple years isn’t showing up enough in 2017 to make up for the lack of everything else. Let’s take a look at a couple more numbers.

Baltimore 2017 Batted Ball Rankings
*FFB% and IFH% are both among highest in the league,
but since it would be better if they are lower, they were ranked in reverse order

The team BABIP indicates that Baltimore has neither been lucky nor unlucky. In fact, since both their BABIP and their line drive percentage are essentially at the league median, a basic argument can be made that the offense has been appropriately lucky. However, if you look at the table, I’ve also included the Infield Fly Ball Rate (i.e. pop-ups) and the Infield Hit Rate (i.e. um, infield hits). The high rates of each could be indication that the Orioles offense could have actually been lucky, despite the “ok” BABIP. Pop-ups are almost always outs, and since Baltimore isn’t a team full of fast runners, I would not expect that infield hit rate to stay at it’s current level.

One more table.

Baltimore 2017 Plate Discipline Rankings
*O-Swing%, F-Strike%, and SwStr% are among highest in the league,
but since it would be better if they are lower, they were ranked in reverse order

Compared to the rest of the league, the Baltimore offense swings at a lot of pitches out of the zone, make less contact on pitches they swing at, and fall behind in the count 0-1 more than all but two other teams. These plate discipline numbers pretty much help support why we see what we do in the first table, but I thought it was interesting to look at regardless.

This post isn’t necessarily advocating that the Orioles buy or sell at the trade deadline. It’s just a quick reminder that the team needs more than just starting pitching. The offense is not good, and while improvements through trade will help, any resources used to acquire that help leave fewer resources to address the pitching (keeping in mind that the Orioles have limited resources to begin with). Regardless of whether the team does trade for offensive help, the key will be for the players highlighted in Matt’s piece to hit much better. The Orioles have been waiting all year for that to happen, and now they have less than a month to see if they actually will before they decide whether to add or subtract.


Pip said...

Enjoyed this, but must ask a question;
If the Orioles pitching is bad, and the offense is bad, why are you not advocating selling? It is literally impossible to acquire the necessary pieces to make the playoffs( if a single game can even be considered such) even if our terrible players improve.
Just a thought… Really enjoyed the article.
A counter article might be a sentence or two about what, if anything we are doing really well.

Unknown said...

Davis is still getting $23,000,000.00 a year, right? That's a lot per strikeout -- even for a perennial league leader in K's.

Unknown said...

It's tough to advocate selling when the team is still very much in the race. As Matt mentions in his article, there are a number of guys who have historically performed better in the past, and outside of J.J. Hardy (who is hurt now anyway), there is a chance that some if not all start performing. If that happens and the Orioles stay close through July, there is an argument for buying based on the team's current window of contention.

In my opinion, for now, it's probably best to wait until we get a little closer to the trade deadline to determine what to do.

tony2302 said...

the closer you get to the trade deadline they are less likely to acquire quality for the stretch run. IF there is one. OR if they become sellers as well.

Unknown said...

I don't know how anyone can say the Orioles should be buyers. Can you buy 3 Starting pitchers with no farm system? Because that's the only thing that is going to give a chance to compete for a World Series. It's never fun to sell but idk how you don't take a step back and realize how terrible it was being an O's fan for the previous 12 or so years before our nice stretch. Cause were on a crash course headed there, have to do something.

Pip said...

Unfortunately, I strongly disagree. The longer we wait the smaller the return and the worse the result. We have literally no pitching. Nothing on the 25 man, nothing in the minors. Our offense is bad, our defense is bad, our fundamentals are apparently terrible. We have nothing of significant current value in the minors at this time, certainly nothing with which we can acquire any adequate reinforcements.
The only reason we are "still in contention" is because at this point in the season almost everybody is within a game or two of a wild-card spot. That was the intent behind the creation of the second wildcard; to maintain fan interest, and to fool the gullible into thinking their team was not terrible when it is in fact terrible.

Jon Shepherd said...

FYI...return value in deadline deals tends to be its highest about a week before the deadline. Historically, trades now are often marginal pieces unless the seller or buyer is desparate. Many teams right now are in wait and see mode which is made worse by how clumped it all is.

Jon Shepherd said...

Also keep in mind how value changes. Gausman now is worth more than he was two weeks ago. Trading guys who are doing terribly is not usually how you get a good return.