There are three teams in MLB who sport a starting rotation ERA of over 5.00. Two of them will be playing in this series. There are no good starters on either the Orioles or the Royals. There are only the bad ones, the worse ones, and the slightly less bad ones. Tonight's matchup features a couple of less bad ones: Alfredo Simon (4.23 ERA) and our old friend Bruce Chen (4.29 ERA). Note this is only less bad when compared to the peers on their own team. Both of these gentlemen are worse than the league average by about 0.30 runs.
Kansas City's offense outranks the Orioles in pretty much every category except for home runs. They walk more, strike out less, and still manage to hit for more power even without the home runs, probably because they actually hit doubles and triples, plus they steal a bunch of bases, so they probably actually have team speed. The Orioles, by the way are 14th in the AL in triples, tied for 12th in doubles, 13th in stolen bases, and tied for 12th in walk rate. On the other hand, they are 2nd in the AL in GIDPs (which is to say they hit the second-most), so there's that.
Earlier in the year, I joked about the Royals offense being based on what the French might call les babipes unsustainables. It's been a couple of months since that declaration and despite my cutting mockery, a couple of Royals are still persisting in higher-than-career BABIP numbers, notably Alex Gordon and Melky Cabrera. Gordon, it seems, may have finally figured out the whole hitting in the major leagues thing, as he's dropping a .302/.376/.495 on the league this year. Let's just take a look and... yes. That's a better OPS than anyone on the Orioles. Melky's .340 OBP is also better than anyone on the Orioles, and even Jeff Francoeur has a better walk rate than five of the O's hitters tonight.
Speaking of the lineup, I almost like it, except for two problems. One is that Vlad is hitting cleanup, but whatever, that's life at this point. The other is that it would look a lot better if the players were hitting like we thought they would be hitting. I guess that's life, too.
J.J. Hardy went 0-17 in the New York series, so let's hope he starts off with a hit. A home run would be awesome, and therefore has no chance whatsoever of happening.
|Orioles (A. Simon - R) @ Royals (B. Chen - L)|