PiR: Orioles Defying the Nerds’ Projections Yet Again

Buck Showalter stands with his hands on his hips.

REALITY: The Baltimore Orioles are defying new-age baseball stats.

PERCEPTION: Outside of our Editor-in-Chief Tony Lombardi, I am the oldest regular writer on this site, and I’m okay with that. But I’m probably, also, the one guy who can’t stand the new-age stats. Frankly, half of them I don’t even understand. I couldn’t care less how fast a bat was hit out of the park, or what a players RC, RC27, ISOP, SECA, WAR, or any other abbreviation for a stat might be. I care about what I see. I care about results.

I’m old-school. I want to see their Batting Average, their On-Base Percentage, and… oh yea… if they win.

And right now, the Orioles are doing just that. I don’t care how they do it, as they as they keep doing it. “A Win is a Win.” “That’s Why They Play The Game.”

REALITY: The Orioles are tied for the best record in Major League Baseball at 22-11.

PERCEPTION: Think about this. The Birds have: baseballs best closer on the Disabled List; the team’s “ace” on the DL until last week; the reigning AL HR King has just four home runs; the team’s two top power-hitters are hitting under .240; and the team’s defense has been uncharacteristically iffy.

With all that going on, the O’s still have the best record in baseball. What happens when Chris Tillman is leading the rotation, Zack Britton is shutting down the 9th inning, and Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis start hitting the ball?

For now, enjoy the ride, Birdland!

REALITY: Hyun-Soo Kim has only played in 16 games this season.

PERCEPTION: Kim has the 3rd fewest at bats (from players on the opening day roster). He is only 10-for-44 and has 10 strike outs. I’m a big fan of Kim and I believe he should be given an opportunity. We saw last year that when he was given the chance to play, he made the most of it. It’s hard to make the most of it when you don’t get the opportunities.

Buck Showalter has his work cut out for him, trying to maneuver the 25-man roster each night, especially with outfielders. Adam Jones is playing every day and Seth Smith is showing that he deserves to play every day. With Trumbo as your everyday DH, that only leaves one position available for Trey Mancini, Joey Rickard, Craig Gentry, and Kim. There is simply not enough room.

I am a firm believer in not platooning. You need to give players the opportunity to get into a groove and playing one night and then having three nights off is not helpful at all. Gentry has become solely the late-inning pinch runner for this team, and even that spot will get more crowded if Michael Bourn every returns.

You would have to believe that someone would have to go, maybe via a trade. Mancini is too good with a great future in Baltimore, so he’s not going anywhere and I think Buck likes Rickard too much. So that could mean that Kim is the odd man out, especially if they need to make room for Bourn (without someone going on the DL).

Oh, and by the way, the O’s still have Pedro Alvarez in Norfolk.

REALITY: The O’s bullpen has been very inconsistent.

PERCEPTION: Do Orioles fans realize now how much Britton means to this team? Last year, many fans thought trading Britton while his value was high would be a great option because the team had Brad Brach and Darren O’Day waiting in the wings. I think we are seeing this year that would not have been a good choice.

It’s amazing the O’s record when you look at how inconsistent this team has been, at the plate and on the mound. The bullpen is nowhere near the “shut down” status they had last year. Last season, starters just needed to get through 6 innings with the lead and the game was over. This year, no lead is safe, no matter the inning.

REALITY: Keeping Ubaldo Jimenez over Yovani Gallardo was an important decision and Tuesday’s start might have been a reason why.

PERCEPTION: If you take out the 8th inning, Ubaldo pitched an absolute gem. He has started 6 games this year and has a 6.15 ERA, but when you look at his starts, you see the massive roller coaster that he is.

In his first two starts, he pitched just 4 innings and gave up 5 runs both times. But then he comes out and pitches 7.2 innings of 2-hit, shutout baseball. Then he pitches two more stinkers before pitching another gem.

The other similarities in the two good games this season is that they were both against NL teams.

When you watch him pitch, you can probably see that he is a really good pitcher who just has terrible control. In his two good starts he had great control. When he is on, he is nearly unhittable. But when he has no command, he is just awful.

I think Showalter and Dan Duquette knew this and hoped that they could help him find his command. His mistakes are more easily correctable than those of Gallardo. So when they had the chance to unload a pitcher this year, they choose the right one.

REALITY: Kevin Gausman has had his own control issues this year.

PERCEPTION: Gausman, like Jimenez, has control issues. This season he has also gone up and down. The inconsistent patterns that Ubaldo has had over his career seem to be rubbing off on Gausman. But maybe it’s not just him. Think about the Orioles starters over the last 5 years. They go through spurts where they have incredible and have streaks of no earned runs. But then a week later, the staff can’t make it through five innings. That has been, and will continue to be, the biggest issue in whether or not the O’s can take the next step in the Post-Season.

As of now, maybe Gausman and Ubaldo should pay more attention to Wade Miley and Dylan Bundy.

This entry was posted in Bird Feed, Blog View, Featured by Joe Polek. Bookmark the permalink.

About Joe Polek

Joe Polek
Joe Polek was born in Baltimore, MD, and was raised in Bel Air, MD. In 2001, he moved to Portland, Maine for a job in radio. In 2012, he moved to Columbia, SC for another gig in radio, where he currently resides with his wife, Nicole, and their two daughters....more

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