The Edge of the Abyss: the Orioles in the Second Half

July 12, 2012 | Mark Brown


Quietly, the Orioles have become one of the worst teams in baseball at actually getting on base. As a team, they are only batting .240 and getting on base at a .302 clip. That OBP is third-worst in the American League.

The O’s do have 106 home runs, which is third-most in baseball. They have five players with ten or more home runs at the All-Star Break. That is good. However, they are among the worst in many other categories.

The Orioles have the most grounded-into-double-plays, with a significant margin over the average team. They are among the league leaders in strikeouts. They have the fewest stolen bases and the worst success rate in stealing bases in all of MLB. They have one of the worst walk rates. All of that adds up to a big problem, which is that guys aren’t as likely to be on base for the home run threats.

In fact, the Oriole with the highest OBP is the oft-maligned Mark Reynolds, who sports a .335 OBP. Last year, the team was led by Nick Markakis with a .351 OBP.

Where is there room for the team to improve? The return of Markakis ought to help, unless he’s hampered by lingering effects of the broken hamate bone. Prior to the injury, Markakis was in the midst of an odd season, with a lower batting average and OBP but higher slugging percentage than he had shown since his 2008 career year.

There are other players you look at and think, “They have to be better than this!” These include J.J. Hardy, Robert Andino and Endy Chavez. Hardy and Andino will continue to be starters, and who knows what will happen with Chavez. They sure seem like they must improve, but it doesn’t mean they will.