The fine fellow denizens of the blogO'sphere over at Bird's Eye View put together a mid-season Orioles awards show each season. In the words of Jake from their podcast, their awards - the appropriately-named BEVys - are handed out to "Orioles fans, players, media ... anyone who looks at us the wrong way. The tone of the show ranges from light-hearted to mean-spirited, and so, too, do the awards."
I have been asked to participate and "present" one of the awards, which I am at liberty to create. After some consultation with Camden Chat readers, I've picked out an appropriate award to come from the people of Camden Chat. All I need is your help to make a decision on who deserves the award.
If you were around for the Great Run Differential Wars, you may recall there was a time where bloody combat was waged over the question of whether or not the 2012 Orioles were overachieving based on having a supposedly "lucky" run differential. There is a formula that predicts what a team's win-loss record "should" be based on its run differential and number of games played. This was dubbed by Bill James as the Pythagorean expectation, because the formula's use of squares is similar in nature to the Pythagorean Theorem that we all know.
For instance, the 2015 Orioles, heading into Monday's game, were actually predicted to have a record of 47-35 based on a +51 run differential through 82 games. Their actual record was 43-39 - so that may mean they've had some bad luck. By comparison, the 2012 Orioles, who ended the season with a 93-69 record, had a run differential of +7, meaning that their record was "supposed" to be only 82-80. As you can probably imagine, this was not a very popular metric with Orioles fans at that time.
After a week of time where every time the subject came up, things frankly became unbearable around here, leaving us with no choice but to tell people to stop talking about it. My final comment on the subject was this: "Pythagoras can project deez nuts."
In that spirit, the Camden Chat-given award for the 2015 BEVys is The Project Deez Nuts Award, and it should be granted to the player who you feel has most exceeded preseason expectations or projections. Note that this is NOT the same thing as the best Orioles player. Manny Machado is not on the list of nominees. We knew he'd be good, if not quite THIS good.
This is for the player whose performance you think gives the stereotypical dogmatic stats nerd or obstinate national baseball commentator the most reason to have egg on their face.
2015 ZiPS Projection: 167 IP, 4.10 ERA, 127 SO
2015 Season to Date: 102 IP, 2.82 ERA, 83 SO, .232 BAA, 1.11 WHIP
The ZiPS projection system is a program maintained by Dan Szymborski, not a person, so it would be silly to get angry at it. But if you were for some reason going to get angry at ZiPS, you surely couldn't fault it for not predicting any better for Chen, who's had an ERA of just over 4 in two of his three previous MLB seasons. Whether or not it was reasonable to have that kind of projection for Chen, the fact is that he's blown by it with his performance over the first half of the season.
2015 ZiPS Projection: 150.1 IP, 4.19 ERA, 145 SO, 11.4 BB%
2015 Season to Date: 94.1 IP, 2.96 ERA, 93 SO, 7.4 BB%
You didn't need a complicated mathematical formula to not have high hopes for Jimenez after the season he put up last year. How could the Orioles' $50 million pitcher possibly manage to turn things around enough to make that contract look like a good idea? Well, it turns out there's a reason why they gave him that money, and against everybody's projection or expectation for the season, that's what the Orioles are getting to see from Ubaldo so far this year.
2015 ZiPS Projection: .237/.266/.363, .279 wOBA, 11 HR, 56 RBI
2015 Season to Date: .305/.335/.492, .357 wOBA, 10 HR, 38 RBI
It's July and Paredes came into Monday's game fifth in the American League in batting average. He's already reached double digits in home runs and he's driven in 38 runs about halfway through the Orioles season. In spring training, it wasn't even a sure thing that he'd make the Orioles team. There was a lot of agony about if they'd have to pass him through waivers.
He has taken all of that and turned into the 2015 version of what the Orioles got from Steve Pearce, a surprising breakout from a hitter who has turned into a key contributor as the team tries to make its move up the standings.
2015 ZiPS Projection: LOL
2015 Season to Date: 24 IP, 2.25 ERA, 26 SO, 27.1 K%, .195 BAA, 1.04 WHIP
Roe was so buried in the baseball world that there was no ZiPS projection for him when Szymborski unveiled this year's ZiPS in January and February. Why would you bother? Roe logged all of two MLB innings in 2014. The Yankees didn't want him. He had to sign a minor league deal with the Orioles to stay in the game at age 28 and he spent spring training getting lit up as a sacrificial lamb in meaningless games. He did not look in March like anyone who would ever be in MLB again.
When the Orioles called him up and he had one nice game where he was basically the best Orioles player in the game, I thought that was a terrible omen. Remember, I know even less than Jon Snow. Roe has turned into an unexpectedly key link in the O's bullpen.
2015 ZiPS Projection: 72.1 IP, 3.24 ERA, 61 SO, 20 K%, 8.5 BB%
2015 Season to Date: 34.2 IP, 1.82 ERA, 41 SO, 30.4 K%, 5.2 BB%, .219 BAA, 1.01 WHIP
Britton was pretty good last year, so his strong performance in 2015 and being named to his first career All-Star team don't come as much of a surprise to real human beings who saw him in action last year. He was fantastic once finally freed from the illusion that he was a starting pitcher, and now he's one of the best closers in baseball for the past two seasons running.
But the ZiPS projection sure didn't expect he'd be THIS good, and that's why he is a worthy nominee for the Project Deez Nuts award.
Several are worthy of being the one who most embodies the notion of the award. Only one may win. Make your choice below. Choose wisely. Voting closes when the clock strikes midnight on Friday, July 10.