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Orioles midseason review: Looking back on spring training predictions

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It's the All Star Break now. The Orioles are 44-44 after losing to the Nationals yesterday 3-2. My first half season here at Camden Chat has been a lot of fun and I wanted to go back over my posts from before Spring Training and see just how right or wrong I was.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles season is now at the All Star Break and the unofficial first half is over. The All Star break is a time for reflection and review so I decided to review my first half season here at Camden Chat and see how right or wrong I was with some of my predictions and proclamations.

Miguel Gonzalez is better than his stats. Why?

Summary: Gonzalez has been able to outperform his peripheral statistics, mainly FIP, by inducing fly balls and especially infield fly balls to reduce his BABIP and to strand runners on base.

Review: Well, Gonzalez has posted a 4.24 ERA this year which is not terribly great, but he is still out preforming his FOIP which is 5.07 to date. The rest of his peripheral numbers are all in line with career norms including IFFB%, FB%, K%, LOB%, and BB%. The only thing that stands out so far is his home run to fly ball ratio, (HR/FB) which is currently 16.5 percent which is 4.4 percent higher than his career. I would think this number is going to fall based on his track record in the major leagues which should help to deflate his ERA. Overall, I'd say I got this one right.

Breaking down Travis Snider's impact on the Orioles

Summary: From the original post, "In all likelihood, Snider is one in a cavalcade of rotating corner outfielders for the Orioles in 2015 that includes Alejandro De AzaDavid LoughSteve PearceDelmon YoungAlex Hassan, and Chris Parmelee."

Review: That was pretty right on as well. Although including Alex Hassan in the mix was pretty dumb. Snider has been okay in a limited role with only 206 plate appearances so far in 2015. He still has a nice 8.7 percent walk rate, but has struck out way more than he did in 2014 which has certainly limited his production. His HR/FB is only 7.5 percent right now, he has a career 12.7 percent, so I'd expect some more power production in the second half. Overall, I'd say I got this one right.

Should the Orioles think about extending Bud Norris?

Summary: If he can repeat the successes he had in 2014, maybe.

Review: Hahahahahahahaha. Well, Norris could not repeat any of his success from 2014 and has now been demoted to the bullpen and is steps away from getting the DFA hammer. Overall, I thought Norris was going to be a pretty good fifth starter coming into the year, so I'd say I missed pretty badly on this one.

Everth Cabretra looks to return to 2013 numbers

Summary: From the original post, "If the Orioles can get him to regain his prior patience at the plate than it would be a solid pickup. His speed and prior to 2014 patience gives the Orioles something they might not need, but it is something they definitely do not have. Cabrera represents another non-negative player. If injuries or poor performance push others to the side, Cabrera could step in and play average baseball, which is of value. If he can regain his 2013 contact rates, than they could have found another Nelson Cruz."

Review: Wow, I super missed on this one. He played about as poorly as one could have imagined and is now a free agent floating around in the desolate wasteland. I really compared him to Nelson Cruz?? Woof.

Ranking the Catchers of the AL East

Summary: The arrival of Russell Martin pushed the Orioles catching tandem back to second place in my mind. I then ranked the Yankees third, the Red Sox fourth, and the Rays fifth.

Review: Pretty spot on even if some commenters still do not want to admit that Martin is an elite level catcher. By catcher WAR, The Blue Jays rank first followed by the Yankees and a resurgent Brian McCann, then the Orioles, followed by the Red Sox and lastly the Rays. So I got that pretty right, the race for second is close and the Orioles could over take the Yankees in the second half.

The Orioles know how to hit a fastball

Summary: The Orioles were first overall in Pitch Value against the fastball in 2014 and ranked third best from 2012 to 2014.

Review: Well, they have not been as good in 2015 ranking 11th with only 14.5 runs added above average on fastballs and way behind the number one Royals who have added 47.3 runs above average on the fastball. Again though, these statistics are descriptive rather than predictive. So maybe it changes in the second half, but so far not so good for my prognostication.

What's behind the hot start for Adam Jones?

Summary: Jones' career low strikeout rate inevitably has led him to make more contact which has resulted in more hits and more extra base hits because he hits the ball very, very hard.

Review: At the time of the writing, Jones's K% was at 9.8 percent. It now is at 14.5 percent which is still well below his career average of 19.1 percent. As of Sunday night, he is hitting .281/.326/.490 good for a 123 wRC+ which would be his best season since 2012. Still, he could get even better. The time missed with the shoulder injury really affected him at he plate after he returned. He has a .292 BABIP, which is a good number but Jones has maintained a career number at .313. I'd expect that number to rise in the second half if Jones can maintain his health. Overall, I'd say I got this one right.

Alejandro De Aza may be on the hot seat after early season struggles

Summary: He was playing poorly and was going to lose his spot if he continued to play poorly.

Review: Well, he did keep playing poorly for the Orioles would eventually designate him for assignment and trade him to the Red Sox. So I guess I was right on that. However, De Aza has been sensational for the Red Sox batting .315/.357/.576 good for a 154 wRC+ from June 6th to July 11th. All of the things he could not do for the Orioles he is doing for the Red Sox. That sucks.

The Orioles continue to struggle in the corner outfield spots

Summary: On May 25th, the Orioles had not gotten anything out of their corner outfield spots.

Review: On July 12th, the Orioles still have gotten anything out of their corner outfield spots. They went from -0.1 WAR to 1.4 in left though. Yet, in right field they have actually produced -0.1 WAR in the same time period going from 0.5 to 0.4 WAR. Still atrociously bad even with some additions. I did say that the in house options still left a lot to be desired and so far they have, so score another one in the right column for me.

Matt Wieters' return may be good for both him and Caleb Joseph

Summary: Wieters coming off of Tommy John surgery may need the extra rest to build up stamina and still get at bats. Joseph also was much better at hitting after a day off and was going to reach a career high in games caught if the season kept going as it was.

Review: Well, so far so right. Wieters has begun to slowly catch on back to back days and still looks a little sloppy from time to time behind the plate. His hitting is alright although he is striking out way too much. Joseph had an .877 OPS on days of rest on June 1st, now it is .758 which is still much higher than the .654 OPS he has in games in which he has caught on consecutive days. Wieters should start playing on back to back days more after the All Star Break. We'll see how it goes from there. So far though, the arrangement has worked out well enough.

***

So, I did pretty good in my first half season here at Camden Chat. It always help to hedge your bets though. One interesting note is that I wrote what the Orioles would look like as sellers on May 18th and from then until June 29th they went 25-15 to go from three games under .500 to seven games over. Then, on June 29th, I wrote what the Orioles would look like as buyers at the trade deadline and they went 3-10 to go back to .500. I apologize profusely.