Before the season, every Orioles fan on the planet knew the winning formula for Buck Showalter’s 2016 squad — hit home runs and rely on the bullpen.
Top to bottom, while we weren’t sure how the final roster would be made up, we all were confident that the O’s outlook was dependent on a limited script. Some of us projected 90+ wins. Others had the Birds at the .500 mark. A few — yes, there were a handful — who went along with a particular media outlet’s prediction and projected a last place AL East finish.
Nobody knew how the year would go, but the strategy, at-least on paper, seemed simple.
So, as the regular season wraps up and the Orioles prepare for the postseason (optimism, folks) — how did the team actually fare stacked up to the rest of the teams in Major League Baseball?
Below, a breakdown of where the team currently sits in MLB team statistical rankings, and perhaps a light shed on where they’ll need to be particularly great to secure a spot in the 2016 playoffs.
Let’s start, and react, in a spot where confidence wasn’t an issue.
The Orioles are 1st in the league in HRs (245). Next best: Toronto (217).
Well, this is working out nicely, eh? There was little doubt heading into the year that this lineup would provide the fireworks needed to propel them to wins in tight ballgames. Overall, the offense as a whole might be proving that they’re even better than originally thought.
Mark Trumbo (45) and Chris Davis (38) are certainly doing their part, but how about Manny Machado (36) and Adam Jones (28) continuing to consistently club the ball out of the park? They’ve done their jobs, as have Jonathan Schoop (26) and Pedro Alvarez (22).
Oh, by the way — that Trey Mancini guy is supposed to be able to hit the ball a little bit, too.
The Orioles are 15th in the league in average (.256).
You might initially think that this number is disappointing, but when you consider the bigger picture, a .256 team number isn’t a let down. The L.A. Angels, who are 9th, have a team .260 number. There isn’t a wide margin here; for the makeup of the Orioles lineup, this hasn’t been poor.
Sure, you’d like to see Chris Davis hit higher than his current .219, but the overall team numbers are well on par with postseason performance. They might be shaky in stretches, but this team isn’t getting close to 90 wins by performing poorly at the dish.
Frustrating to watch at times? Certainly.
Below average compared to the rest of the league? Hardly.
The offense has 1,269 strikeouts, 14th-worst in Major League Baseball.
That’s right. Despite the worries that every one of us shouted from the rooftops to begin the year, the Orioles are not going to set an MLB record for most strikeouts in a single season. In fact, they might not even be in the bottom 10 at the season’s end.
Celebrate good times!
It’s strange, because Davis, Trumbo, Machado and Jones are all on pace, if not worse, than last year’s strikeout percentage numbers. But, teams across the league are whiffing at far worse rates, saving the Orioles from putting into action the dreaded preseason “worst case scenario”.
Last year, the O’s struck out 1,331 times. It sure looks like this season’s results could beat that mark, even though they haven’t been great.
You can look away, if you’d like. It’s about to get a bit ugly.
The Orioles starter ERA is 4.82, 26th in the league.
Unfortunately, this was the mark that everyone anticipated in April: finishing in the bottom-five of the league in starting pitching ERA.
Take this into consideration — the Cubs, like the Orioles, have played 156 games. Their starters have tossed 960.1 innings; O’s starters have thrown just 848.1 innings.
Same number of games, more than 110 innings of a difference. That’s not exactly ideal.
Orioles starters have a team 1.42 WHIP, 23rd in the league.
Again, not great here. Starters have allowed 322 walks this season, second-worst in the AL and sixth-worst in the entire league. When strikeout numbers are low and free passes are high, it’s safe to say the recipe of success isn’t being put into action.
Rounding out the season, it’ll be up to the starting arms to not give away those crucial bases on balls to capture these divisional wins. Now more than ever, command must be a prime focus.
Piling together “reliever stats” is hardly an accurate way to describe a team’s bullpen, but the following number deserves to be spotlighted.
The Orioles relievers have a combined 3.42 ERA, 4th in the league.
I’ll be honest in saying that this mark surprised me somewhat, especially considering we’re discussing the entirety of the bullpen’s work in 2016.
Sure, the Brach and Britton duo is nearly unstoppable, but guys like Darren O’Day and Mychal Givens have had their fair share of rough performances this year. With everything factored in, a 3.42 bullpen mark is incredibly impressive.
What it all means
After last night’s ugly loss to the Blue Jays, we can look at these overall numbers as a nice representation of the year, but hardly a sign of good things to come. Especially if the offense continues to sputter, the notes of good production aren’t worth much more than a pat on the back.
What they do serve to prove is a small blueprint for the final stretch, one that’ll decide whether in a week from now, Orioles baseball season is over.
The offensive power must continue.
Getting on base must be a priority.
The starting pitching? You know the drill.
It’s been a fun season in Birdland. Not many believed, but the numbers don’t lie. The Orioles are a good baseball team.
Are they good enough to make the playoffs?
We’re surely about to find out.