It’s Wednesday, January 24, 2017. Fan Fest is three days away. Pitchers and catchers report in 20 days. Opening Day at Camden Yards is in 64 days. In the spirit of these numbers, here’s a look back at a handful of good, bad, surprising, not so surprising and telling statistics before the 2017 O’s season is fully in the rear-view mirror.
The Orioles high water mark came on May 9, 2017 at 22-10. At that point fans were optimistic, but the positive vibes wouldn’t last long.
A seven-game losing streak from May 21-May 28 dropped their record to 25-23 and it was very middling from there through the summer. They were never totally out of the race before Labor Day, but never really in it either.
Primarily on the back of Tim Beckham in August, the O’s heated back up and including a seven-game winning streak from August 23-August 30, stood at 71-68 on September 5. Amazingly, they were within striking distance of the AL Wild Card.
4-19 to 75-87
Of course, as we all know, the Orioles finished an embarrassing 4-19 to end the season at 75-87. The month of September could not have been worse for the black and orange.
Noting their 2017 ERA in parentheses, Wade Miley (5.61), Ubaldo Jimenez (6.81) and Chris Tillman (7.84) started 76 of 162 games (46.9%). That percentage is unbelievable. Miley, Jimenez and Tillman starting almost half the games? No MLB team can be successful with 3/5 of their rotation pitching with ERA’s north of 5.60.
Orioles pitchers ranked next to last (14 out of 15 teams) in the American League when examining five key statistical categories, including: hits allowed (1505), runs allowed (841), earned runs allowed (795), walks allowed (579) and homeruns allowed (242). These pitching numbers are about as bad as it gets.
The 4.97 O’s team ERA was also second to last in the AL. That is terrible.
2.75 and 1.99
On the positive side of the team pitching performances, Mychal Givens (8-1, 2.75) and Richard Bleier (2-1, 1.99) had very good seasons out of the bullpen. Not much else went right with the pitching staff, but the O’s stable of relievers is deep and good.
4.68 and 4.24
Kevin Gausman (11-12, 4.68) and Dylan Bundy (13-9, 4.24) had very average seasons. They weren’t horrible in 2017, but they weren’t that good either. Certainly, they did not meet expectations and that’s a major short and long-term problem unless things change.
While filling three open rotation spots is obviously essential, Mike Wright, Gabriel Ynoa and Miguel Castro are not the answer. Maybe one of them, but not all three. Besides, if Bundy and Gausman don’t become solid top of the rotation starters, the season will be lost and it won’t matter who is at the back end of the rotation.
The Birds were second to last in triples (12), second to last in walks (392) and rock bottom in stolen bases (32). Their ability to manufacture runs was basically non-existent.
Baltimore was 13 out of 15 in OBP (.312). That’s not good either.
34, 33, 32
Three AL players – Whit Merrifield (34), Cameron Maybin (33), Jose Altuve (32) – had at least as many steals as the O’s team. Wow.
On the slightly better side, Baltimore was 8 out of 15 teams in runs (743).
4/15 and 2/15
They were fourth from the top in batting average (.260), fourth in total bases (2458) as well as second from the top in hits (1469). They clearly used the Earl Weaver approach to scoring runs.
The 2017 Orioles were a respectable 12-4 in extra innings. At least there’s that.
The team was 21-20 in one-run games. This is surprising for a team with only 75 wins. It is likely a testament to their quality bullpen, even with the extended absence from Zach Britton.
They also had 12 walk off wins and only four walk off losses. Memory says Mark Trumbo had a disproportionate number of those hits, despite his overall down year, including the first ever Orioles walk off homerun on Opening Day.
With a 46-31 (.568) 2017 record at OPACY, the Orioles had something to smile about.
However, a 29-52 (.358) 2017 road record turned that smile upside down. If the Orioles were just average on the road they’d have been in the thick of the Wild Card race. The Minnesota Twins captured the Wild Card with an 85-77 record.
622-569 (.522) is Buck Showalter’s overall record managing the O’s since August 2010. That includes an AL East championship (2014), two Wild Card appearances (2012, 2016) and only two losing seasons.
In retrospect, looking at some of these numbers, it is remarkable the Orioles won 75 games in 2017. In my opinion, it is reflective of what a gift Buck has been to Baltimore baseball. He is as responsible as anyone – along with Peter MacPhail and Dan Duquette – for making baseball in Charm City relevant again.
I’ve tried to be optimistic all off-season, but time is running short for the roster makeover this team needs. Here’s hoping Buck and DD have a few tricks up their sleeves in the next few weeks. They’ve done it before – and the O’s have exceeded expectations and projections for years – so there is no reason they can’t do it again.