O's Weekly Wrap: March 31st - April 7th

Elsa

A poor start to the season has fans thinking "small sample size! small sample size!"

Standings

The O's are 2-5, cellar-dwelling in the AL East at two games back.

Results

The O's started the season off well with a win against Boston ace Jon Lester. Then they dropped the remaining two games of the set as well as the first two games against the Tigers. They rebounded with a hard-fought win over Justin Verlander, but faltered in New York as Hiroki Kuroda shut them down.

Run Differential

22 runs scored vs. 33 allowed is not how you want to run a ballclub. The offense has been sputtering since the beginning. The team's hit only three homers and has a batting line of .231/.273/.342. That's a 70 wRC+, dead last in the American League.

Best Hitters / Worst Hitter

There are some bright spots, though. Matt Wieters owns 1/3 of the team's HR total and is hitting for a 172 wRC+ (.391/.391/.565). Of course he hasn't taken a single base on balls. He's left that to Nelson Cruz who owns the other 2/3 of the team's HRs. Nellie's not hitting a lot but walked four times and made hard contact. As a result he's got a 153 wRC+ (.250/.357/.542). That'll play.

Poor Ryan Flaherty. He gets the "dunce of the week" award with a -70 wRC+. He's struck out nearly 37% of the time while walking just 4.5% of the time. That plus zero extra-base hits will lead to a .048/.091/.048 batting line. His .077 BABIP indicates he's not this bad, although his career BABIP of .252 means his ceiling is still very low, and his career strikeout rate is worse than average. No one else on the team comes close to being this miserable offensively, although Nick Markakis and his 67 wRC+ are trying.

Best Pitcher / Worst Pitcher

You have a tossup here, depending on your evaluation philosophy. Chris Tillman excelled with 9 K and 2 BB in 13.1 IP pitched. He's increased his K rate every year since 2010, so there's reason to believe he'll ramp up the strikeouts in 2014. He's the only O's starter to have prevented every single baserunner from scoring. If you remember, he was quite good at stranding runners last year also.

On the other hand, if you place stock in the FIP statistics and FanGraphs' pitcher WAR, you're compelled to pick Wei-Yin Chen as your best starter. He pitched just 5.2 innings but struck out a higher percentage of batters than Tillman did (18.6% to 16.7%), did not walk anyone, and did not give up a dinger. As such he's compiled more fWAR than Tillman (0.2 to 0.1) despite allowing 4 ER to Tillman's two.

It's your call! Personally I'd give the edge to Tillman for pitching more than twice the innings and being only a smidge worse.

Similarly, although Bud Norris and Miguel Gonzalez both had poor starts, Gonzalez struck out fewer batters, walked more (Norris didn't walk anyone), and surrendered two home runs to Norris' one. Who's worse? It's your call. FanGraphs says it's Gonzalez with -0.2 fWAR, while Norris was merely replacement-level.

Adam Jones "The Power and the Patience" Update

Jones has not gone yard yet, but he has two walks already!

Team Steve!

The Steves made some noise this week. Steve Clevenger led the way, with a double and a triple in five PA and a run scored. That's a .400 batting average, folks. Steve Pearce didn't have so much luck, as he did not reach base in two PA. Steve Lombardozzi was in the lineup much more; in 19 PA he's hit five times, all singles, for a banal .263/.263/.263 batting line.

Upcoming Week

The O's have two more games agains the Yankees then return home to take on the Blue Jays and the Rays.

Your Moment(s) of Zen

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