In 2009, the Baltimore Orioles hit 160 home runs. I decided to look more into the situation today after picking up Weaver on Strategy, which is a classic bathroom-reader/cigarette-accompanier in this house.
Weaver wrote: ... Earl Williams lead us with 22 homers, followed by Grich, with only 12. The team only had 119 homers. I prefer my clubs to hit at least 150 homers. I don't want to take anything away from that club, but it won the fewest games of any division-winning club I managed. Every game was a struggle because of our lack of power, the unability to break it wide open with one swing of the bat. I've managed and won with guys who hit singles and stole bases, but I'd much rather have a power club. Those home runs make life a lot easier.
Since then, of course, home run totals have increased, and the team's 160 homers in 2009 were only good for 11th in the American League. The Yankees led with 244 home runs. In 1973, Cleveland led the American league, which had twelve teams at the time, with 158. So when Weaver is talking about desiring 150 home runs, he really means he wants a top-3 or top-5 team in the category. I'm not exactly trying to advocate that the Orioles need Weaver to manage again (he won't) , or that the Orioles need to take Weaver's book and make a bible out of it (hey, that might not be a bad idea, huh?). But it stands to point. The top five teams in home runs in order were NYY, TEX, BOS, TOR, TB. They averaged about 89 wins. In terms of the AL Least, 89 wins would have been good for third place. This is the situation the Orioles are in. Hitting more home runs would be very good for the Orioles in 2010! Isn't it a little depressing that every team in the division was a home run leader other than Baltimore?
All things being equal from 2009 to 2010, the Orioles need to hit 183 home runs have the average in the AL. That is a 14% increase. To catch up to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Orioles would have to increase by 39 home runs, or 24%. That is quite a formidable task if the team returns with mostly the same lineup. Where can we find these home runs? We might reasonably hope that Adam Jones plays in more than 120 games, which in itself should be good for 25 home runs (+6 over 2009) and that doesn't count any growth as a young player. If Matt Wieters hit home runs at the same rate that he did for all 96 games that he played it, and he plays 130 games, he'd only have 12 (+3, WOO we're getting somewhere. Except not really). Other than pointing out that Wieters could help in the DH spot on off-days, it also really points out how much of a breakout we are truly expecting from him. It's almost unreasonable.
We might also predict that Markakis will return to his 20-25 home run form, and hope and pray he develops into a 25-30 guy. On the other hand, Brian Roberts is most likely to not hit 16 home runs again. His peak is 18, and his average is 11.
This is why I'm starting to like the idea of Dan Uggla coming in to provide us with 30 home runs a year. I would barely care if he was a DH of if he learns 3B, which is really the only place that I believe he'll fit on the field. In 2010, the Orioles may find themselves missing Aubrey Huff. Aubrey Huff has averaged 25 home runs over the last five years. His 15 home runs in 2009 was just as flukey as his 32 in 2008. He's a hot/cold player, but he's not Luke Scott.
I also want to point out that home runs are not a necessity either, because there were four teams who posted below-average totals and still had winning records. This includes playoff teams LAA and MIN, with 173 and 172, respectively. This is because of superior OBP and SLG percentages.
Although the Orioles finished with above-average marks in doubles, the team was 11th in walks, severely hurting both their OBP (by getting on base less) and SLG (by raising the number of at bats) percentages. So I guess the Orioles could equally desire to pick up some walks, but either way, increasing the home run total is very important because honestly, only KC and OAK were worse than Baltimore. And also, I'm actually trying to focus this fanpost on home runs, obviously.
2010 will be an interesting year. I believe that the LF/DH/1B solution is in-house. But I can't figure it out. Which platoons to use? If Aubrey Huff is resigned, it would be a good thing, but it would mean that Luke Scott needs to be traded, esspecially if Wieters' bat demands to be in the lineup everyday. I liked Aubrey Huff at first in 2009.