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NumerO Cinco? Si!

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29299905_medium The Orioles are 63-70 on this off day, 18 games out of first place. In the last ten, they're the only AL East squad with a losing record, going 3-7. The rest of the division has won six of the last ten.

The Orioles are 50-45 in night games this season, and just 13-25 in day games. Good thing we don't have a Cubs schedule.

The Orioles are 20-23 in one-run games, a massive improvement on the 13-31 mark from 2007, which was by far the worst in Major League Baseball.

Jeremy Guthrie is tied for sixth in the American League in ERA (3.28). The top ten, with W-L records thrown in, looks like this:

Cliff Lee, CLE (2.43, 19-2) ... Justin Duchscherer, OAK (2.54, 10-8) ... Roy Halladay, TOR (2.69, 16-9) ... John Lackey, LAA (2.95, 11-2) ... Armando Galarraga, DET (3.20, 12-4) ... Guthrie, BAL (3.28, 10-10) ... Felix Hernandez, SEA (3.28, 8-8) ... John Danks, CWS (3.30, 10-7) ... Ervin Santana, LAA (3.41, 13-5) ... Mike Mussina, NYY (3.45, 16-7)

Looking over those records and ERAs, I think you have to really be somewhat in awe of how good Cliff Lee has been. Halladay has thrown more innings, but Lee has been so dominant that he's managed to go 19-2 on a team that is two games under .500. He's credited for nearly one-third of their wins.

The O's have scored 5.13 runs per game, good for fourth in the American League behind Texas (5.54), Boston (5.21) and Chicago (5.17). At Camden Yards, the Birds score 5.31 runs per game, and on the road, 4.96. Last year, the team scored 4.67 runs per game, ninth in the AL.

The O's have allowed 5.14 runs per game, which is second-worst in the American League, ahead of only the deplorable Rangers (a staggering 5.99). The O's team ERA is 4.88. Last year, the Birds allowed 5.36 RPG with a 5.17 ERA, so it is an improvement. Not much one of, but an improvement.

In these respects, I think the "improvement" of this year's team is to some degree a smoke-and-mirrors act. The pitching is still God awful and that desperately needs to be rectified. No matter how many runs you score, it's tough to win when you routinely give up just as many. We know this, right? Pitching has to be considered priority No. 1 as far as any potential offseason moves go. Guthrie can't do this all by himself.

Frankly, this year's O's squad -- the competitive! team -- has had one of the worst starting rotations we've seen yet. Outside of Guthrie, they are all terrible. Look at these numbers:

 

Pitcher IP ERA WHIP ERA+
Daniel Cabrera 171.2 5.24 1.55 83
Garrett Olson 108.2 6.38 1.71 69
Brian Burres 112.0 5.79 1.66 76
Radhames Liz 57.0 6.95 1.79 63
Steve Trachsel 39.2 8.39 2.02 52
Chris Waters 28.2 4.71 1.43 93
Adam Loewen 21.1 8.02 2.02 55

And yes, this means that Daniel Cabrera still sucks, and that he's just as bad as he was last season. This "useful back-end starter" thing is not really very true. He's really, really bad.

This one truly warms my heart: Nick Markakis is fourth in the American League in on-base percentage at .403. He trails Milton Bradley (.446), Joe Mauer (.410) and J.D. Drew (.408). Markakis is fourth in the league in walks (84).

Aubrey Huff is sixth in the American League in slugging percentage (.566), fifth in OPS (.932), third in doubles (40), first in total bases (286), tied for fourth in home runs (29), sixth in RBI (94), fifth in adjusted OPS+ (143), third in runs created (107), fifth in adjusted batting runs (31), fifth in batting wins (2.9), first in extra-base hits (71), seventh in offensive win percentage (.701), and has a VORP of 53.9, by far the best on the team.

In other words, Aubrey Huff is the balls.

Brian Roberts leads the league in doubles (46), is third in triples (8), tied for tenth in walks (68), fifth in stolen bases (33), and third in times on base (226).

You know who's first in times on base? Markakis, with 240.

Melvin Mora has 97 RBI, and is having his best season since 2004, which is almost entirely thanks to a hot July and an unimaginably scorching August. Let's not forget the Melvin Mora of the first half, though. He hit .232/.300/.385. He was freaking awful. Awful, awful, awful, terrible, bad. He was so bad that they should have given up on the old fart and tried strugglin' Mike Costanzo or Scott Moore or my cat or anyone. He was hideous.

But in July he hit .311/.373/.533 with five homers, and this month he's been postively Herculean, going ape bananas at .427/.463/.781 with eight home runs.

More on Melvin: in seven games against the Tigers, Mora has hit .571/.618/1.393 with six home runs and 17 RBI. In 12 games against the Red Sox, Melvin has decided to take a nap to the tune of .111/.222/.200 with two extra-base hits (a homer and a double).

Folks that say Jay Payton has done a super duper job this season live on a different planet than I do. I respect his capability to fill in in center field with AJ out and I haven't once been truly annoyed by the dude this year as I was last year, but he's getting a lot of compliments like he's been some sort of genuine positive to the team. There are a lot of fourth/fifth outfielders that could hit .256/.300/.363. He's just as bad as he was last year, but there's been a lot less of him.

I said around the All-Star break that I thought Ramon Hernandez would bounce back in the second half because he'd been incredibly unlucky in the first half. This was no grand statement or amazing guesstimate, but he's done pretty well, hitting .288/.344/.492 since the break. I'd take those numbers out of a catcher any day. Of course I'd also prefer one that wasn't as lazy as he is behind the plate. He has also regressed back to stinking in August (.253/.292/.361).

Left-handed batters are hitting .324 with seven homers against Jamie Walker. Ummm, not cool, bro. I still love Jamie Jam Walker, but he's had a terrible season.

Since coming to the Orioles, Juan Castro has hit .214/.248/.276. He's 36 years old. He's never been any good at all. And this is the guy that wins shortstop for the season. Unbelievable.

Luke Scott has been our version of Trot Nixon, and will probably have roughly the same shelf life. He really needs a lefty-mashing platoon partner (.762 OPS v. LHP is not horrible, though). In this regard, I'll give Payton a little credit: he has bopped lefties at a .551 slugging clip. All six of his homers have come against left-handed pitchers.

Lou Montanez has been fun to watch. No numbers.

This really should be the last season for Kevin Millar as an Oriole. I say that with respect for the guy, too. It's just that his OPS has dropped every season as an Oriole -- .811 in 2006, .785 in 2007, .755 this season. He's already pretty well below standard for a first baseman, and pushing him any further as a starter would probably be a really bad idea. He does get credit for making the team fun again, and giving them some much-needed personality. And he hasn't killed us as a player or anything. But any further down the ladder, and he will. He's not getting younger.