The best part about the baseball season is that because of its length, in most cases the cream rises to the top. Make no mistake, they could end the season a month earlier and accomplish the same thing. There are teams that have gone from last to first in a year, (1987 Minnesota Twins, 1991 Atlanta Braves) but those were good teams that came together and stayed around for a while because of a solid nucleus of players. The 2012 Baltimore Orioles have been fun, but this may be coming to a crashing end.
When the Orange Kool-Aid was spiked in May, I was the voice of reason. I have always thought August 1st was a good date, as at that point, the contenders and pretenders tend to sort themselves out. Although, I will not stick a fork in our birds right now, because they do have a month to right the ship. Let’s have fun a do a progress report.
In this look, I want to compare the Orioles of this year to the last 5 winners of the American League East. The 2007 Red Sox, 2008 Rays, 2009 Yankees, 2010 Rays, and 2011 Yankees tell an interesting statistical story of what it takes to win the division. Frankly, I know that statistics do not tell the whole story, but in baseball, which is ‘stats driven’ it lets you know where you need to be as a team.
Let’s start off with what I think is the most glaring issue with this team, the defense. In the last 5 seasons no division winner has committed more than 102 errors. That was the New York Yankees off last year. Right now, the Orioles our on pace to commit over 145 errors for the year. That means that Orioles would allow ¼ of an out more per game than the Yankees of last year. No division winner in this span has ranked lower than 4th in the league in this category. As of now, the Orioles are last.
The range for earned run average over the past 5 years is between 3.73 and 4.26. Although the Orioles team staff ERA is right in line with the range of winners at 3.85, there is more to the story. Looking deeper into the numbers the staff ERA has gone up every month of the season. After a wonderful 3.03 in April, they went to 4.16 in May, and 4.25 so far in June, which is the red flag.
Let us turn to the offense and simply look at batting average first. Taking the Tampa Bay Rays from 2010 out, no other team has hit at a clip less than .260. The Orioles are at a .244 team average right now, and as we have seen lately, it isn’t getting any better. Everyone remembers than Tampa team for having an excellent pitching staff, with no hitting. Even they hit for a .247 average.
Lastly, looking at the OPS the Orioles .716 is .20 points lower than lowly hitting Tampa team from 2010. Frankly, if you look at the class of the division over the time, the Orioles need to get the OPS up to the .800 range.
Obviously these numbers are not the, all answers to everything, but it gives you a start of where the Baltimore Orioles need too be to win the division. At this point they do not seem to be measuring up.